By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Alison Leung

Business

Pop Mart wins as blind box mania sweeps through Chinese youths

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Alison Leung
  • 2021-02-27

Anna Wang Kai-cen, a 27-year-old wealth manager, is one of the beneficiaries in China’s mystery or blind box craze by snapping up the toys and shares of Pop Mart International Group Ltd. (9992), the most famous blind box retailer in China. "I first entered the Pop Mart shop in Beijing two years ago, just out of curiosity why my friends bought so many of their toys," said Ms Wang. Twenty minutes later, she got her own toy, a vinyl doll dressed in a yellow suit with big blue eyes called Molly. Since then, apart from buying toys, Ms Wang started to pay attention to the designer toymaker and seller behind, Pop Mart, which went public in Hong Kong on Dec. 11 last year. The young wealth manager is among hundreds of thousands of investors betting their money on this Chinese largest designer toymaker, setting eyes on the behind “new economy” growth opportunities.  Within one day after IPO,  Ms Wang earned more than HK$70,000 by selling her some 2,000 new shares of Pop Mart, thanks to the blind box mania, which is taking over China by storm. Shares of Pop Mart jumped to a high of HK$89.60 in December, more than doubling its initial public offering price of HK$38.50, boosting the total market value of the company to more than HK$120 billion. The stock closed at HK$89.9 on Friday. "Of course I know its toys are popular among us young generation, but I didn’t expect their stocks are also that popular in public," Ms Wang said.  The "first blind box stock" Pop Mart is famous for its blind box selling strategy. Customers will not know what the toy looks like until they unpack it, sharing the same nature with toys in a capsule called Gashapon, or “niu dan'' in Hong Kong.  …

Business

Budget Address 2021: Effects of unemployment loan in doubt

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Wednesday unemployed citizens can apply for government-backed low interest personal loans of up to HK$80,000 but citizens cast doubt on its effectiveness because some fear that they cannot repay the loan. The one-off loan at an interest rate of 1% per annum is part of the government’s relief measures announced by the Financial Secretary in his budget speech amid the city’s unemployment rate hitting a 17-year high of  7% in January, with more than 250,000 people unemployed. “The labour market deteriorated sharply,” said Mr Chan in the speech. “This prolonged economic downturn has plunged some people into financial difficulties.” As an extra financing option for the unemployed, eligible individuals can pay interest only in the first year, and then repay the principal plus interest within the next five years. People who repay on time will get the interest back at the end. “I think the budget is reasonable and fair, especially in giving low interest rate loans to the unemployed,” said Teresa Tong, 65, former Partner at Ernst & Young Hong Kong. “ It’s a new idea for this year and it’s pretty innovative. It’s the right way to support the poor and unemployed rather than just offer them money.” “But some people are reluctant to borrow from the government”, said Kwok Man-ho, district councillor Tin Shui Wai. He has received comments from about a dozen of residents and none of them planned to apply for the loan as they were not sure if they were able to repay later. Besides, Mr Kwok also said the amount of the loan was too small, especially for people who were not living in public housing. “Since the unemployed have no idea when they can find jobs, most of them prefer direct unemployment grants …

Business

Budget Address 2021: Deficit hits record high Forecasts economy return to growth this year

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰、Cai Chuchu 蔡礎礎Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong government's fiscal deficit would hit a record of HK$257.6 billion this financial year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his budget speech on Wednesday. The deficit was expected to narrow a bit to HK$101.6 billion in 2021/22, accounting for 3.6% of GDP as a series of supporting measures and the continued increase in recurrent expenditure.  Mr Chan also forecasted the city's economy would return to growth of between 3.5% to 5.5% this year, due to an expected recovery in the global economy and the effect of local stimulus measures. The Financial Secretary delivered his budget speech at a Legislative Council meeting today with a focus on “stabilising the economy and relieving people's burden”. He said the economy would still face significant challenges in the first half of the year, but "economic recovery will likely gain a stronger momentum in the second half of the year in tandem with an expected rebound in the global economy." However, he also said, “With the epidemic still lingering, our economy is yet to come out of recession.” “As the social distancing restrictions are relaxed and more people are vaccinated, confidence among investors and citizens will increase, and there will be corresponding economic activities to help the economy recover,” said Billy Mak, associate professor from the Department of Finance and Decision Sciences of Hong Kong Baptist University. “But the recovery process may take three or four years, and the economy this year will still be difficult.” Mr Chan also alerted that Hong Kong would record a deficit for a number of years after achieving a surplus for 15 years. Despite this, the government still decided not to cut spending that affects people's livelihood, especially resources for education, social welfare and healthcare, in order to protect people's livelihood and maintain public confidence. By …

Business

Budget Address 2021: Hong Kong sees 2021 positive GDP growth at 3.5% - 5.5%

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Alison Leung
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his budget speech on Wednesday that the city’s economy is expected to return to positive growth this year after experiencing two consecutive years of recession. Hong Kong's economy will face significant challenges in the first half amid COVID-19 while the economy is expected to recover in the second half on a rebound in the global economy, Chan said. He forecasts the economy to grow by 3.5-5.5% in real-term this year on back of the stimulus effect of the fiscal measures. But Chan also said, "The progress of economic recovery will hinge on the development of the epidemic." From 2022 to 2025, he expected the city's economy will grow by an average of 3.3% per annum in real terms, with the underlying inflation rate forecasted to average 2%.    The Financial Secretary expected the government to post a budget deficit of HK$101.6 billion in 2021/22, accounting for 3.6% of GDP due to the relief measures and the continued increase in recurrent expenditure. The government also announced several one-off measures including cutting personal salaries tax and personal assessment tax by 100% with a ceiling of HK$10,000. Enterprises will also be eligible for 100% reduced profits tax with a limit of HK$10,000. Unemployed citizens can apply for a government-backed personal loan capped at HK$80,000 at an interest of 1% per year, said Chan.  In addition, to stimulate domestic consumption, every Hong Kong permanent resident and new arrivals aged 18 or above will receive HK$5,000 electronic consumption vouchers, which will involve about 7.2 million people with a total of HK$36 billion.

Business

Hong Kong strives to achieve carbon neutrality goal, long-term decarbonisation strategy expected mid-2021

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-19

The 2021 Budget Plan will be released next Wednesday in which global climate change is expected to be a topic in concern while the Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has said that a long-term decarbonisation strategy, including the promotion of using electric vehicles, will be announced in the middle of this year. The Financial Secretary said in his blog on Feb. 7 that the government will promote the use of electric vehicles by creating more EV charging stations and phase out existing high-emission Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles before 2027. The government would strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the 2020 Policy Address. However, the development of electric vehicles in Hong Kong is still slow, said Wong Chun-sing, 32, who would like to buy an electric vehicle but stopped by government measures. “The electric vehicles charging stations are not enough, I wanted to buy an electric car but I think it is hard to charge electric cars in Hong Kong,” said Mr Wong.  When compared with Singapore, Hong Kong is still lagging behind in terms of green infrastructures. Singapore announced on Tuesday in its budget that it will create 60,000 EV charging points before 2030, or more than 30 times of what they have now. "I think the development progress of Hong Kong is way behind Singapore,” Mr Wong said.  As of December 2020, Hong Kong had 3,351 electric vehicles charging points, according to data provided by the Environmental Protection Department.  Hong Kong also released certain policies to promote green technology for reducing air pollution by vehicles and ferries in last year’s budget. The government has earmarked HK$80 million for launching electric public light buses and HK$2 billion to subsidise the installation of EV charging stations for residential buildings and to …