By: CAO Jingyi、Li Shiwen、Mereen Santirad、Wang ZiweiEdited by: Janice Lo

Society

“No experience, no technology, no talent”: how poor supervision of tech investment in China lead to a waste of funds

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: CAO Jingyi、Li Shiwen、Mereen Santirad、Wang ZiweiEdited by: Janice Lo
  • 2021-02-17

Hongxing Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (HSMC), a government-backed manufacturing project in Wuhan, has gone belly-up. The 128 billion yuan (HK$153 billion) project is now just an abandoned construction site. The weeds have grown over what is supposed to be the floor of the factory. Local authorities reported that the project was stagnant due to “poor planning and shortage of funds”. The semiconductor business in China has a history of fraudulent players. Two decades ago, the much-hyped Hanxin microchip project, also known as “heart of the Han” processor was later discovered to be a scam. Workers at the plant were simply replacing Motorola brand chips with the Hanxin logo.The developer, a university professor from Jiaotong University in Shanghai, was found to have stolen the technology from Motorola. He was later found guilty of fraud and banned from state funded projects. In July 2020, Dekema (Nanjing) Semiconductor Technology Co. Ltd declared bankruptcy due to “financial difficulties”, leaving behind 19 billion yuan (HKD$23 billion) in unpaid debt and wages. China’s state council set a goal to become a global leader in the semiconductor industry by 2030 and aims to produce 70% of the semiconductor by 2025. The central government put up about 764 billion yuan (HK$465 billion) in the industry over the five years, including 388 billion yuan (HK$465 billion) from provincial and municipal governments, according to the report by the Central for Strategic and International Studies. However, the plan to create a domestic semiconductor industry was just a little successful due to “no experience, no technology, and no talent” of the semiconductor industry, for instance, HSMC.  The company received 15.3 billion yuan (HK$18.3 billion) funding for the operation in 2019, according to the Wuhan Municipal and Reform Commission.  By July 2020, HSMC was already in trouble. Construction of the factory had stalled since …

Society

Hotel workers call for recognition of their efforts during COVID-19

Local hotel workers are demanding a one-off subsidy in recognition of their contribution in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. They also want priority in vaccination because of the risks they have to take. The Hong Kong Housekeeping Employers Association and Hotels, Food & Beverage Employees Association said in a press conference today that the government should provide a one-off subsidy of $3,000 for each worker. They urged the government to increase the capacity of banquets from 20 to 80 people and set up an Emergency Relief Fund for hotel workers who lost their jobs. “Housekeepers have to put on personal protective equipment when cleaning the rooms used for quarantine. But the equipment limits their movements, and cleaning time has increased from 30 minutes to almost two hours,” said Hector Ngai Chee-keung, the membership affairs officer of the Hong Kong Housekeeping Employers Association. He said housekeepers now have an increased workload because of strict hygiene standards for both staycation and quarantine guests. “Housekeepers need one to one-and-a-half hours to clean each room because they find red wine stains on carpet, rotten fruit and peanuts shells in the rooms,” said Mr Ngai. By providing a one-off subsidy of $3,000 for each worker, Mr Ngai said it could reward those who have maintained professionalism amid the pandemic. Nerine Yip Lau-ching, Secretary-general of the Hotels, Food & Beverage Employees Association said that it is crucial for hotel workers to get vaccinated first because they face a high risk of catching COVID-19 when serving food. “By allowing us to have a higher priority for vaccination and encouraging the public to get vaccinated, it could prevent a fifth wave of the pandemic from hitting Hong Kong,” added Cheung Tsz-yeung, director of the Hotels, Food & Beverage Employees Association. Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan Shiu-chee announced today that …

Society

Social distancing measures to relax on Thursday as COVID-19 cases fall

Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan Shiu-chee announced today that social distancing measures will ease from Feb. 18. Hong Kong recorded nine new cases of Covid-19 today, the second consecutive day in the single digits. Prof. Chan said that in view of the low number of COVID-19 cases, catering businesses can provide dine-in services until 10 pm and the maximum capacity per table will be increased from two to four people. Some businesses such as sports facilities, gyms, beauty parlours, cinemas, and game centres can also be reopened for business until 10 pm, provided that their staff undergo virus testing every 14 days. “Owners and staff should undergo the first virus testing between Feb. 11 to Feb. 25,” added Prof. Chan. People entering these premises are required to scan the QR codes using the Leave Home Safe app or register their personal information along with visiting date and time to record their whereabouts.  Prof. Chan warned that if restaurants and other premises do not comply with the requirements, their opening hours for dine-in services will be shortened to 6 pm and the number of people per table will again be restricted to two people. They may also be subject to temporary closure of between 3-14 days. Meanwhile, bars, nightclubs, bathhouses, party rooms, mahjong parlours, swimming pools and karaoke establishments will remain closed. 

Society

City's Lunar New Year flower markets head into their last night with smaller crowds and less stock

The city's Lunar New Year flower markets, initially cancelled due to the fourth coronavirus wave, gear up for their final night of the holiday season today after the government U-turn allowing them to open just three weeks ago. Stall owners said they lost out on business because of the government's back and forth decision to cancel and reopen markets again, and crowds this year were much smaller than usual. "As the government announced the closure of the flower markets earlier, we did not purchase much flowers and our supply is not quite enough," said Au Chun-yuen, 29, a stall owner at the Victoria Park market, adding that he had 30% less stock than last year. Mr Au said he has been offering discounts to compensate for the loss of business from shortened market hours. "Selling prices are already reduced by 10% to 20%.  But as my ultimate goal is to sell all the flowers, I am willing to offer an extra discount if the customers bargain with me," Mr Au added.   The decision to open the markets was made after careful consideration and listening to the comments of the flower farmers, Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan Shiu-chee said at a press conference on Jan. 19. The government's virus control measures included closing the market for two hours each day 1:30 pm and 6:30 pm for cleaning and disinfection. Visitors in the market can stay during disinfection sessions, but Mr Au said that opening hours are shortened as people waiting outside the market can only enter after the cleaning sessions end. Chris Jones, 67, a customer at the flower market, questioned the government's decision. "1:30 pm is in the middle of people's lunch break and 6:30 pm is when people want to come here after work, so it is impossible …

Society

Lack of transparency in quarantine policies in China

For university students, the Winter break is supposed to be relaxing. But for Knightley Liu and me, returning to the mainland from Hong Kong began with a 14-day quarantine in a hotel room ridden with cockroaches and more. With the coronavirus pandemic unabated, quarantine policies are now common worldwide. Mainland China's quarantine policies vary from place to place, depending on local governments. There is a limited number of flights between Hong Kong and major mainland cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. So Shenzhen and Zhuhai, the only two mainland cities that have road connections with Hong Kong, are popular among people who choose to be quarantined elsewhere before they go to their final destinations. To cope with the large group of inbound travellers, Shenzhen and Zhuhai have adopted corresponding measures. Shenzhen now requires travellers to reserve a place, without a choice of hotel before they enter the city, and sets the daily limit to only 2,000 returnees. There are currently only six shuttle buses from the Hong Kong border to Zhuhai daily, each carrying a maximum of 40 people. The Hotel: No Choice After crossing the border into the mainland, Kightley and I were taken to a bus bound for the quarantine hotel, while I received no response when I asked medical officials where I am going. I could only check my location on a map. In Hong Kong, the Department of Health provides a list of hotels that inbound tourists can choose from, with the room rates and various hotel policies such as whether the hotel offers takeaway services. But in the mainland, travellers can choose how much they wish to pay and the kind of facilities which they want to stay in, but not the actual hotel. Knightley, a mainland year three student from Hong Kong,who returned to the …

Culture & Leisure

Art exhibition calls Hong Kong people to reflect on the meaning of migration

The Cypher Vol. 10: Migration A Self-Return Show exhibits works from five local artist units, calling people to reflect on the significance of migration. The art exhibition takes place at Negative Space in Wan Chai from Jan. 16 to Jan. 30. It is co-organised by Video Cypher, a platform that gathers local video creators since 2017. The 15-day exhibition is a sequel to the online screening last November, where five local artist units were invited to produce a video on the topic "Migration". Installations and decorations shown in the exhibition are a self-reflection of the artists as a form of continuation to their work. S Chan, the curator of the exhibition, mentioned that the artists emphasized the change of physical distance in their work of their own accord.  Ms Chan therefore decided to conduct the exhibition in a home-like area to illustrate a sense of familiarity for people to reflect on migration. The exhibition area is paved with foot massager pads to convey a sense of painfulness to the visitors. "The foot massager pads are associated with the sea water background on the poster, through which we would like to analogize the difficulty of migration," Ms Chan explained. The first artwork, "Road to Nowhere", is a two minute animation made by Ziki Cheung Kit-yin. The animation makes people reflect if migration is still a good option for people to escape from the problems in their home country and have a fresh start in a new place even when there are problems all around the globe.  An installation of bowling pins placed in front of a television with the ball is set in front of the screen, which Ms Cheung created to further evolve the message presented in her animation. "The bowling pins are associated with the television which trapped the …