Hong Kong – HKETO, Brussels hosts reception in Paris to celebrate Chinese New Year (with photos)

HKETO, Brussels hosts reception in Paris to celebrate Chinese New Year (with photos)


     The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) hosted a Chinese New Year reception in Paris, France, on January 30 to celebrate the start of the Year of the Dragon. 

     In her welcoming remarks, the Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union, Ms Shirley Yung, emphasised Hong Kong’s role as the prime gateway to China, and its distinct advantages under the “one country, two systems” principle. Ms Yung added that Hong Kong was “uniquely positioned with the necessary network and resources to help European businesses gain easier access to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”. Highlighting Hong Kong as a city full of exciting events and festivals, Ms Yung encouraged the guests to visit Hong Kong and experience the vibrancy of the city.

     The HKETO, Brussels took the opportunity to showcase Hong Kong’s East-meet-West culture through a creative and unique performance, amalgamating ballet dance and Chinese calligraphy. Performers were artists born in Hong Kong, including Lam Chun-wing, who was the first Chinese person to join the Paris Opera Ballet, and Nancy Kan, an esteemed actress and radio host in Hong Kong whose passion and talent in Chinese calligraphy and painting have earned her a reputation beyond the screen.

     The reception was hosted in co-operation with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the France Hong Kong Business Association. More than 300 guests joined the reception, including officials from national governments, consulates and embassies, financial and business sectors, academia, cultural and creative sectors, media and the Chinese community.

Hong Kong – Speech by FS at Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute 75th Anniversary Celebration (English only) (with photos/video)

Speech by FS at Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute 75th Anniversary Celebration (English only) (with photos/video)


     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, at the Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute (HKCGI) 75th Anniversary Celebration today (January 31):
David (the President of the HKCGI, Mr David Simmonds), Ellie (the Chief Executive of the HKCGI, Ms Ellie Pang), Ernest (the immediate past President of the HKCGI, Mr Ernest Lee), Edith (past President of the HKCGI Ms Edith Shih), fellow HKCGI members, ladies and gentlemen,
     Good evening. It’s a pleasure to join you tonight to celebrate the Hong Kong Chartered Governance Institute’s milestone 75th birthday. It is also the 30th anniversary of the Institute’s incorporation as an independent, local body.
     For three-quarters of a century now, the Institute has been championing good corporate governance. That, to be sure, has been central to Hong Kong’s success as an international financial centre.
     Today, as David noted, the Institute counts more than 7 200 members, along with 3 000 students in Hong Kong and the Mainland. I’m proud to be a member, too – to be one of you.
     The Institute has done much good work over the years. It establishes its thought leadership through thematic researches and studies, and provides valuable professional training and support to its members. Most importantly, you are a staunch partner of the Government. From corporate governance to ESG and anti-money laundering, the Institute has been providing sound advice and contributing to Government’s policy formulation and implementation.

A Resilient Hong Kong
     Ladies and gentlemen, “Resilience in Governance” is the apt theme of both this anniversary gathering and the Institute’s year as a whole. Indeed, “resilience” is an equally compelling character of Hong Kong. 
     We are firmly in the post-pandemic economy now. That said, we have a new and equally complex set of challenges to overcome. An enduring high-interest rate environment is affecting asset prices and investment appetite. Geopolitical tensions have led to greater protectionism, geoeconomic fragmentation, and negative narratives about the Mainland and Hong Kong. Competition among economies has intensified, too.  
     Still, we have good reason to be optimistic.
     For so long, Hong Kong has weathered one challenge after another. Remember the Asian financial crisis in 1998, or the global financial crisis in 2008. Each time, we rose to the challenge, and strengthened our defences. We emerged stronger and more resilient.
     Just as the National Security Law (NSL) was enacted in June 2020, there were doubts and criticisms, at first. But the facts speak for investor’s confidence. Banking deposits in Hong Kong, for instance, were at HK$16.2 trillion at the end of 2023. That’s around 17 per cent higher than before the enactment of the NSL. 
     And Hong Kong remains Asia’s leading asset and wealth management centre, handling more than US$4 trillion in assets in 2022. We are also Asia’s largest hedge fund hub and the region’s second-largest private equity centre. We lead Asia in green and sustainable finance as well.
     Last year, Invest Hong Kong attracted more than 380 overseas and Mainland companies to set up or expand their businesses in Hong Kong, increasing by 27 per cent than 2022. They will invest more than $61 billion, up more than 1.9 time than the year before.
     The American Chamber of Commerce’s annual business sentiment survey was released just yesterday. And 60 per cent of its members said Hong Kong’s business environment was excellent, very good or good. Nearly 70 per cent said their operations last year had not been negatively impacted by the NSL.
     As for this year, 74 per cent believed our business outlook will be optimistic or neutral.
     Coincidentally, the President of the German Chamber of Commerce also recently expressed confidence in Hong Kong’s investment environment. 
     Yesterday, the Government launched an important consultation. Our plan to legislate for Article 23 of the Basic Law. It will complete our constitutional obligation, and also reinforce the very basis of our city’s development, that is a safe and stable business environment. Our unique strengths under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, such as the common law system, the rule of law, trusted regulatory regimes, the free flow of capital, information, goods and people, all that, and more, will remain firm as ever.
     In short, Hong Kong will continue to be a friendly and favoured city for doing business.
Staying ahead of competition
     In fact, we are making great strides to spur the city’s economic development.
     In the short term, we’re focusing on tourism and private consumption. In the first half of this year, more than 80 mega events, covering culture, arts, sports, finance, trade exhibitions and more, will be held here. 
     They will attract tourists and business travellers alike, showcasing Hong Kong’s openness, vitality and new opportunities to the world.
     In the medium to long term, the eight strategic roles given to us under the National 14th Five-Year Plan will empower our economic growth. Among them, financial services and innovation and technology (I&T) will be the most important dual growth engines. 
     For I&T, we have been focusing on four areas: life and health technology, AI and data analytics, fintech, and new energy, new materials and advanced manufacturing.
     To jumpstart this development, we are working very hard to attract more leading companies with cutting-edge technologies to come and settle in Hong Kong.
     We have so far attracted more than 30 such strategic partners. They include pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, new energy giant CATL (“寧德時代”) and others. They will invest more than HK$30 billion in Hong Kong, creating over 10 000 jobs. A majority of them will be R&D and management positions.
     There’s more. The Chief Executive’s Policy Address last year announced the development of the “headquarters economy”. Its mandate is to attract more companies to set up headquarters or corporate divisions in Hong Kong.
     And as part of that effort and to capture the opportunities brought by the onshoring of offshore companies arising from OECD’s BEPS 2.0 reforms, we are also working to introduce a re-domiciliation regime for non-Hong Kong companies to relocate here. 
     The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau is on its way to introduce the related legislation into LegCo in the first half of the year. I know your sector is interested in the transitional arrangements for those incoming companies in regard to, for example, tax obligations. Let me assure you that clear provisions will be set out in the relevant bill.
     Allow me turn now to ESG, another key area of interest to you. As you know, the Government and financial regulators are also leading the world in developing a roadmap for the appropriate adoption of IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards locally. 
     The Standards will focus on four key areas: sustainability reporting, assurance, data and technology as well as capacity building. We are now identifying the circumstances specific to Hong Kong that must be considered in implementing this international standard.
     For this, we welcome your thoughts on how best to adopt the standards to suit the needs of Hong Kong.
Concluding remarks
     Ladies and gentlemen, for 75 years now, the Government and the financial industry have looked to the Institute, to you, for insight and invaluable support. My congratulations to you once again, and we look forward to continuing our close collaboration in the decades to come.
     May I also wish you all the best of health, business and good governance in the promising new Year of the Dragon, just 10 days away. Let’s make this dragon fly. Thank you.

Hong Kong – LCQ3: Raising the awareness of water resource protection

LCQ3: Raising the awareness of water resource protection


     Following is a question by the Hon Nixie Lam and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (January 31):


     There are views that fresh water is a precious natural resource, but public awareness of water conservation is weak. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the division of work between the Environmental Protection Department and the Water Supplies Department in promoting and enhancing the knowledge of water resource protection, and the respective effectiveness of their work;

(2) whether it knows if the authorities of the Guangdong Province have included the cost of ecological protection in the calculation of water prices in the recently signed Dongjiang water supply agreement, thereby making the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government explicitly shoulder the responsibility for ecological compensation; if they have, of the details and the proportion of such cost; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether it has plans to allocate additional resources to enable more young people to learn first-hand about the history of Dongjiang water in the form of exchange tours, so as to strengthen the sense of gratitude for the source of benefit and the awareness of conservation through a deeper understanding of our country; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Local yield and imported Dongjiang (DJ) water are the main sources of water supply in Hong Kong. We have been adopting a multi-barrier approach to protect the local water resources in order to safeguard water quality. Besides, the Water Supplies Department (WSD) has been implementing the Total Water Management Strategy since 2008 with emphasis on strengthening water conservation through public education and exploiting diversified water resources for enhancing resilience of water supply in Hong Kong. 
     My reply to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Nixie Lam is as follows:

(1) Local yield is one of the important sources of potable water in Hong Kong. Over the years, Hong Kong has developed an extensive rainwater collection and storage system. About one third of Hong Kong’s land has been designated as water gathering grounds where rainwater is collected for storage and there are 17 impounding reservoirs in use for storage of collected local yield or DJ water. The raw water is treated by water treatment plant facilities to meet the Hong Kong Drinking Water Standards and then supplied to the public for drinking. The WSD is the key party responsible for the protection of water resources within the water gathering grounds.

     Currently, most of the water gathering grounds also fall within country parks and are protected by the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208). Development and activities within the water gathering grounds are stringently controlled. 

     In accordance with the Waterworks Ordinance (Cap. 102), any person who pollutes the water in the waterworks, including impounding reservoirs and water gathering grounds, shall be guilty of an offence. The WSD conducts regular inspections and institutes law enforcement actions in accordance with the Ordinance. 

     To raise public awareness of protecting water resources, the WSD implements continuous education and publicity initiatives, which include erection of warning signs in the vicinity of water gathering grounds and reservoirs and distribution of leaflets, against contaminating precious fresh water resources. 

     Besides, the WSD exercises various measures, including promoting water conservation culture in schools and amongst youngsters, implementing the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, distributing or assisting to install flow controllers for water taps and/or showers for the public etc, in striving to promote water conservation.

(2) DJ water has been uninterruptedly supplied to Hong Kong since 1965. To secure the quality of DJ water supplied to Hong Kong, the nation has carried out various major infrastructures, and environmental and ecological measures over the years, such as construction of sewage treatment and sewage diversion infrastructures, implementation of sewage interception works at DJ river basin, stringent control of development in the protection zones along the basin, prohibition of activities such as quarrying, mining and extensive poultry farming within protection zones, as well as relocating polluting factories in the vicinity and carrying out the land rehabilitation works relating to the environmental and ecological protection measures. These measures secure the quality of DJ water supplied to Hong Kong in compliance with Type II waters in the Environmental Quality Standards for Surface Water, which is the highest national standard for surface water applicable to human consumption.

     Basically, the water price in the DJ water supply agreement is a lump sum price for DJ water supplied to Hong Kong covering associated fees of water resource, the cost of measures to protect the quality of DJ water supplied to Hong Kong, maintenance cost for the infrastructures along DJ, system operation and maintenance costs, etc.

     The water price is adjusted regularly following the established principles accounting for the changes in the exchange rate between Renminbi and Hong Kong dollar, the consumer price indices of Guangdong (GD) and Hong Kong and the operation costs. We are thankful that price adjustment in recent years emphasised more on the changes in the exchange rate between Renminbi and Hong Kong dollar and the consumer price indices of both sides in lieu of full consideration of the additional costs of the GD side on ecological conservation and other aspects by the nation. As such, we do not have to record the breakdown of costs on ecological conservation incurred by the GD side.

(3) To enable the public, especially youngsters, to recognise our country’s efforts to secure the supply and quality of water provided for Hong Kong, we are enriching youngsters’ knowledge about DJ water through various communication means, including the “Cherish Water Campus” Integrated Education Programme for schools, and the roving exhibitions about DJ water supply in H2OPE Centre, etc. In addition, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of DJ water supply to Hong Kong in 2025, the Development Bureau and the WSD have arranged to progressively launch a series of publicity plans this year, including exhibitions, seminars, open days and TV programmes, to strengthen national education and patriotic education with a view to enable the public to understand the nation’s great contribution to Hong Kong on this aspect. 

     Meanwhile, the Education Bureau and the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau have been devoting resources to implement youth exchange and internship programmes in the Mainland and overseas. Amongst the programmes, some contents covered the protection of water resources. For example, youngsters can learn about how DJ water is imported to Hong Kong from the Mainland and the importance of the associated projects to the fresh water supply in Hong Kong, through site visits to the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply Scheme and the associated Xinfengjiang Hydroelectric Power Plant. The WSD will provide support for the above internship programmes and visits and continue to enhance the content of students exchange programme. 

     Thank you, President.

Canada – Consultation on a Proposal to Update Fees for Pest Control Products

Current status: Open
Opened on 31 January 2024 and will close for consultation on 31 March 2024.

Health Canada is proposing changes to its fee structure associated with Health Canada’s post-market regulatory activities with respect to pesticides (in other words, the annual charge).

The proposed changes are being brought forward to more accurately reflect the costs for Health Canada’s regulatory activities on pesticides, while also ensuring that appropriate mitigation measures are in place to minimize the economic burden on small businesses and enable continued access to certain pesticides.

How to get involved
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) invites the public, stakeholders, and partners to submit written comments on the proposal to update fees for pest control products.

This consultation is available for comment for 60 calendar days from the date of publication, with a closure of the comment period on 31 March 2024. Open the “Consultation Document ” link to access the document.

If you would like to comment, see the Pest Management Regulatory Agency Publications Section  page to submit your comments using our online consultation comment form or for contact information to submit your comments by email or mail. Please be sure to include the title of the consultation document on which you are commenting.

Reporting to Canadians
The feedback received will be considered as Health Canada refines its fee proposal. It will then be published in Canada Gazette, Part I in anticipation of a formal consultation on regulatory amendments to the Pest Control Products Fees and Charges Regulations. Final regulations will then be published in Canada Gazette, Part II.

Interested in our other consultations? Sign up and stay informed about topics that matter to you.

If you have any questions, contact the Pest Management Information Service.

Resolution Games is Launching ‘Game Room’ for Apple Vision Pro on February 2

One of the first spatial games designed for Apple Vision Pro, the collection of classic board & card games will be available on Apple Arcade for iPhone and iPad as well

Stockholm, Sweden – WEBWIRE

Game Room brings to life realistic recreations of traditional tabletop classics such as Chess, Hearts, Solitaire, and more right into your own home with no cards or pieces required for unique and engaging gameplay experiences.

Resolution Games, the studio responsible for leading spatial gaming experiences including Demeo, Demeo Battles, Racket Club, Spatial Ops and Blaston, today announced that its first title for Apple Vision Pro will be available on February 2. Leveraging the powerful capabilities of Apple Vision Pro to transform the space around players and merge the physical and virtual worlds, Game Room brings to life realistic recreations of traditional tabletop classics such as Chess, Hearts, Solitaire, and more right into your own home with no cards or pieces required for unique and engaging gameplay experiences.

The most remarkable experiences in spatial computing are often the most familiar, and with the capability of Apple Vision Pro to deliver lifelike immersion in real world environments, Game Room has been designed to provide the most authentic digital game night to date to bring people from around the world together, said Tommy Palm, CEO and founder of Resolution Games. The physically-based rendering that Apple Vision Pro supports allows for gaming experiences that are practically indistinguishable from their real world counterparts. By reproducing classic gaming pieces that everyone is familiar with, from playing cards to pawns, were excited to be able to showcase this incredible capability of Apple Vision Pro.

Already a leader in the digital tabletop games space with titles such as Demeo and Demeo Battles, Resolution Games is now bringing tabletop games to even more platforms with the launch of Game Room on Apple Vision Pro. Developed natively for Apple Vision Pro – and also playable for iPhone and iPad – Game Room takes advantage of visionOS, which features a brand-new three-dimensional user interface and input system controlled entirely by a users eyes, hands, and voice, ideal for tabletop gameplay and using your hands to pick up game pieces, cards and more.

At launch, Game Room features a selection of the worlds most popular games now brought to life with spatial computing:

  • Chess – the strategy board game of pawns and kings for two players (play with others in real-time or with turn based correspondence on your own schedule)
  • Solitaire – organize cards into ordered piles in the best-known version of solitaire
  • Hearts – a trick-taking card game of collecting suits and shooting the moon
  • Yacht – roll the dice and rack up the points in this six-sided twist on poker
  • Sea Battle – sink enemy ships before they sink yours

For multiplayer games, players can choose between connecting with real players through FaceTime using SharePlay (in which players can challenge their friends by initiating a FaceTime call via iMessage or from within the game), Game Center Friend Invites, or Game Center Quickmatch, or battle AI competition in Game Rooms selection of multiplayer card and tabletop games.

Game Room, which supports 1-4 players through online play, will be available February 2 on Apple Arcade for Apple Vision Pro as well as iPhone, and iPad as part of an Apple Arcade Subscription. All Apple Arcade games are ad-free and have no in-app purchases. And with Family Sharing, up to six people in the household can enjoy Apple Arcade at no additional cost. To learn more about Resolution Games, be sure to visit resolutiongames.com and follow the company on X/Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


About Resolution Games:
Resolution Games is redefining how people come together and play, evolving the craft of multiplayer game development and publishing with its approach to delivering new games across existing and emerging platforms, from PC to XR. The studios titles rank among the top-rated and most downloaded games in the space. Games like Demeo, Demeo Battles, Racket Club, Ultimechs, Blaston, Bait!, Acron: Attack of the Squirrels! and Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale illustrate the innovative and immersive ways the studio is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Founded in 2015, Resolution Games is privately held and based in Stockholm, Sweden, with offices in Austin, Texas and Linkping, Sweden. For more information please visit www.resolutiongames.com.

Apple Vision Pro, Apple Arcade, iPad, and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions.