Business

Business

VPN: Chinese people's window to the outside world

Turning on the laptop, connecting to Shadowsocks, and then accessing Google. These are the necessary steps for some students in mainland China to complete their homework every day. During the outbreak of the coronavirus, many mainland students enrolled in colleges in Hong Kong have to stay in the mainland. In order to take online classes and complete course assignments, they need to scale the so-called Great Firewall, a virtual online barrier that keeps people in China out of specific foreign websites. Using Virtual Private Networks such as Shadowsocks, is a way to gain access to the uncensored Internet. Since the early 2000s, China has gradually blocked a large number of overseas websites including Google and Facebook. In recent years, the government has turned up the heat in its  control of the network so that VPNs have become more and more vital for people to cross the Great Firewall. Here is a guide to what you may want to know about VPN in China. What is VPN? VPN routes your device's internet connection through a private server rather than your Internet Service Provider. That way, it masks the identity of your device because all of your data will appear to come from a private server and enables you to operate data that can only be operated through the private network. By using VPN, software running on a computer or a mobile phone can gain some rights that only a private network has, such as security and some specific function such as internal resources of an organization. Take The Young Reporter for example, as a student publication the portal of TYR can only be logged in and managed when the user's device is connected to the university's network. In order to operate the portal remotely, editors need to use a VPN so …

Business

Fitness video games under home quarantine

Staying fit while under home quarantine because of the pandemic is a challenge for some, and not doing exercise may only worsen the cabin fever. So turning to Ring Fit Adventure maybe one solution. The fitness video game from Nintendo, a Japanese games and electronic company, topped the sale charts in Japan, America and Europe, with over 170 million copies sold in late February, after being released for five months. Ring Fit Adventure was launched at a price of 7980 yen, which is approximately 577 Hong Kong dollars. However, as demand soared since the coronavirus outbreak, the price jumped more than threefolds to around 2100 Hong Kong dollars at its highest point in February. The price of the game has risen rapidly since mid January in mainland China as well. According to Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at a gaming market research company, Chinese sellers are buying overseas game sets at the list price and reselling them for around 2200 Hong Kong dollars. He thinks that the huge price difference is due to global shortage. In Weibo, there are 10.2 million discussions under the topic of Ring Fit Adventures. Short videos and thoughts regarding the game are shared. Nintendo even had to apologize for the shortage, as shut down of factories in China affected the supply. On Nintendo's official website, the game experience is described as "Explore fantasy adventure worlds to defeat monsters using real-life exercises". In the adventure mode in Ring Fit, users are required to mirror the poses shown to defeat monsters. The poses are sorted into four main categories, each meant to train a specific body part. For example, under the "leg" category, users need to do squats, mountain climber and side steps. Claudia Cheng, 24, bought the game after the start of the epidemic. "As I …

Business

Invest for your Future: Retirement Savings should now be on Track

Retirement may seem a long way off for young people, but it is never too early to invest for better retirement life. Once entering the workforce in Hong Kong, fresh graduates will start to invest via the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) - an employment-based retirement protection system. Under the scheme, both employee and employer are required to make a monthly mandatory MPF contribution, which is equivalent to 5% of the employee's relevant income, with a cap of HKD$30,000 per month. Employees with monthly earnings less than HK$7,100 are exempt from contributing to their own MPF accounts, but their employers are still required to make a 5% contribution.  In that case, for someone who has worked for 43 years, he or she will have a minimum of $3 million of savings under the MPF Scheme.  However, MPF hasn’t made everyone feel secure enough. The Financial Literacy Monitor 2018 reveals only 34% of surveyed Hongkongersres aged 18 to 79 were confident that they were financially well-prepared for retirement. According to UN World Population Prospects 2019, the average life expectancy for Hong Kong people has reached 85 years, ranking the top in the world. As people in Hong Kong generally retire at 65, retirement can potentially last for more than 20 years. During retirement, your monthly living expenses, medical fees as well as the cost of inflation can come up to much more than you expect. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the average monthly expenditure of retired households is $22,634. However, the survey done by the University of Hong Kong shows that respondents expected an average monthly retirement living expenses of about $12,600, which is less than half the actual monthly expenditure from the census and statistics department survey. Nearly 80% of the respondents considered that the average monthly expenditure after …

Business

Hong Kong budget plan subsidizes employment programmes under weak economy

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: BellaHuang、Cynthia Lin、ShukmanSo、Sunny SunEdited by: Mark Chen、AlecLastimosa
  • 2020-02-27

The Hong Kong government will provide additional annual funding of $30 million for employment programmes of the Labour Department to relieve job loss and financial pressure on individuals and companies, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in the Feb 26 budget plan. The economy in Hong Kong has been hit hard by the outbreak of the coronavirus and months of anti-government protests, which makes the labour market subject to huge pressure. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong has risen to 3.4% from November 2019 to January 2020.  Over the same period, the employed population has decreased by over 10,000 to 3.80 million, and the number of people available for work has dropped by around 16,300 to 3.93 million. "The labour market eased further as economic conditions continued to worsen," said Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Labour and Welfare. "The year-on-year decline in total employment widened further," he added. Dr Law said that the dramatic fall in employment rate signified that some people may have chosen to leave the labour force after losing their jobs. In light of the worsened employment situation, Paul Chan encourages employers to hire the elderly, the disabled and young school leavers by raising the ceiling of on-the-job training allowance under different employment programmes. The Youth Employment and Training Programme is a pre-training programme for all young school leavers aged 15 to 24. Participants of the programme can apply for one-month internships provided by the government, welfare agencies and private enterprises, as well as an internship allowance of $45,800. "I came to Hong Kong last year and worked as a handyman. But our industry has been affected by anti-government protests since last September," said Wong Tsz-Hong, 23, who has been working after graduating from high school in Foshan, Guangdong. …

Business

Health sector calls for wise spending on $75 billion fund for Hospital Authority

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tomiris Urstembayeva、Han Xu、Leone Xue、RonaldFanEdited by: Tomiris Urstembayeva、Han Xu、Leone Xue、RonaldFan
  • 2020-02-26

Financial Secretary, Paul Chan, has made the fight against COVID-19 a priority in this year's budget. In his speech in Legco on Wednesday, he promised $75 billion will be granted to the Hospital Authority, however, some professionals worried that the budget is not going to be spent wisely.  "They are not managing their money effectively. The government should be monitoring how the HA uses the money effectively and properly," said Cyrus Lau Hoi Man, a registered nurse and an officer of Hong Kong Allied Health Professionals and Nurses Association. Out of the $75 billion, $30 billion will be spent on setting up Anti-epidemic Fund to facilitate the provision of prevention supplies by sourcing them worldwide, while supporting local production to satisfy soaring demand.  "Making good use of fiscal reserves to support enterprises and relieve people's hardship is certainly in line with our people's expectations towards the government under the current difficult environment," said Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po. The Hospital Authority will get $600 million to increase manpower and improve the quality of. Services. Another $650 million will go toward supporting the District Health Centre in Kwai Tsing and to set up six more centres around Hong Kong in the coming two years.  "(We) will continue to allocate resources to promote district-based primary healthcare services, with a view to enhancing the public's capability in self-health management and providing community support for chronically ill patients," said Mr Chan.  Rehiring retired doctors and nurses is one of the ways the government is planning to solve the doctor shortage. But according to Mr Lau, this solution is only "a bottle of water to put out a big fire" as retired doctors are not as "energetic" as the younger ones. He also thinks that it's necessary to propose "punishment" to avoid any unfairness in …

Challenges that local businesses are facing

  • 2020-02-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: SamuelMo、Carol Mang、Moon LamEdited by: SamuelMo、Carol Mang、Moon Lam
  • 2020-02-26

Government is pumping money for businesses amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Financial Secretary has released measures, including reducing profit tax, waiving the rates, and subsidizing the electricity bills, to offer relief to businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak

Business

Coronavirus outbreak forced people to work from home

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Kylan Goh、Leone XueEdited by: Clara Ip、Mark Chen、Mereen Santirad
  • 2020-02-19

Zhang Yuxiang, a fresh graduate lawyer in Fuzhou, mainland China, has been working through online meetings since the coronavirus started. He hasn't come closer to what he dreams about - working in bed while snuggling with a cat. Mr Zhang enjoys working from home since it provides flexibility during office hours. "I have more free time and sometimes I can even loaf on the job since most of my cases are not in a hurry at this stage," he said. Employees in mainland China have started to work online at home to quarantine themselves from the rampant novel coronavirus. On February 13, the Hong Kong government also announced the "Work from Home" arrangement that will last until February 23.  Although it's convenient to work from home, Mr Zhang feels that people may use Internet delay to excuse their inefficiency, adding that communicating with colleagues is one of the major difficulties.  "I spent most of the time waiting for others to reply," said Mr Zhang, feeling annoyed while checking his WeChat to see if he gets any reply from his colleagues. "Even a simple conversation can take up a whole day," he added.  With the city shut down, on-site work could not proceed. "The procuratorate and the court are not open to the public during this period. Trials and many cases that need follow-up are postponed," said Mr Zhang. However, some employees found that working online has brought them closer to their family. "Home office lets my parents understand what I am doing," said Wang Yiqing, a Chinese teacher at a high school in mainland China. Ms Wang's mother is also a teacher, but she could never understand the notion of self-learning.  "She thought self-learning is just an excuse for being an irresponsible teacher," said Ms Wang. "I'm glad she finally …

Business

Copenhagen's rising rainbow economy

The rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, is common as one strolls down the streets of Copenhagen. Businesses proudly display rainbow stickers on their windows as a show of support for Copenhagen's diverse community.   Copenhagen is widely regarded as one of the most LGBT+ friendly cities in the world. But some say it is just a colorful facade for clever marketing strategies that focus on making a profit. Over The Rainbow Rainbow marketing, rainbow capitalism or the rainbow economy, refer to companies which brand their products with rainbow flags and colors.  This is especially noticeable throughout the city during Copenhagen Pride. The annual event held in this August draws over 300,000 people to the streets to celebrate the diversity of Denmark’s capital city.     Thomas Rasmussen, Head of Communications for Copenhagen Pride, though says the increasing popularity of rainbow marketing may harm businesses and brands because they might be perceived as "attempting to make a profit by catering to the LGBT+ community. There hasn't been any official claim of how big Denmark's rainbow economy market could be, however, the huge profits potential of such a business model can be seen from the American LGBT+ community. According to the latest data from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, America's LGBT+ community holds an estimated buying power of $917 billion annually. "It is of great importance that the marketing directed at the LGBT+ community is backed by action and real change," Mr. Rasmussen said. Different Orientations, Different Views For some LGBT+ community members, such “supports” from the businesses which only can be seen in the pride season might not be genuine enough. "Showing real support is not how you brand yourself one day or a month, but it's about how you run your business and all of the other days of the year. I think that's what really counts," said Sami Kleit, 27, an openly gay student from …

Business

Working holiday scams

Working holidays are a popular way for young people from Hong Kong to spend time living abroad, but some are scammed because they weren't well prepared. Living in a concrete jungle like Hong Kong that's notorious for its expensive real estate, many young people may want to explore other countries by going on a working holiday. These vacations typically involve short term employment in lower paying jobs, such as working on a farm.  A working holiday allows participants to stay in a country for a longer period, ranging from a year to three years, depending on local regulations. Temporary jobs such as strawberry farming or helping out in a winery are popular.  According to the statistics from the Hong Kong government's Labour Department, 44,731 working holiday visas were granted between 2014 and  2018, and Australia has been the most popular among the 14 countries participating in the working holiday scheme. But there have been complaints of holiday makers being scammed because they are unfamiliar with the labour laws.  Garcia Fung, a 35 years-old backpacker, warned of the working holiday traps. "For instance, you may be underpaid by your employers, employers asking employees to transfer money before arrival, or some might even find that don’t have a job because it does not exist," he said. Mr. Fung went to Germany for a working holiday when he was 29.  He had a limited choice of jobs because he did not speak German. He started his first job after staying in Germany for six months. During his stay, he had a job as a box packer. Mr. Fung was paid €2 for each box. However, he realised something was unusual after packing a couple of boxes when he was instructed to pack bags of white powder. When he asked  what the powder was, …

Health & Environment

Weekend review: veganism struggles to grow in Hong Kong

People believe it costs more time and money to produce animal-free food and products in Hong Kong. Last weekend, PMQ Central held the first international trade fair and conference for vegan  living, VeggieWorld Hong Kong. And guests including nutritionists and company founders gave speeches inspire the Hong Kong community to live a vegan lifestyle. Vegan food has been the spotlight in the market. The first VeggieWorld Paris in 2016 attracted 6000 to 8000 visitors with the vegan products , such as superfoods, food supplements and meat and dairy alternatives. More than 50 vegan-friendly brands gathered in VeggieWorld Hong Kong to showcase visitors different types of vegan produce as alternatives for the regular ones like chips, chocolate, bread and cheese. Sarah, a foreigner who is living in Hong Kong, said she was glad to have discovered Mayse Artisan Bakery based in Tai Mei Tuk, a bread store which produces plant-based and gluten-free bread, because she has been suffering from gluten-intolerant.   She said despite the fact that the store is far for her, she is happy to start seeing vegan alternatives around because there had not been much choices in Hong Kong for her before.    Mikus, one of the owners of Mayse Artisan Baker, said although the ancient formula he uses to bake their gluten-free bread is successful, it takes them a maximum of  two days to produce a single loaf of bread. "Most of the bakeries nowadays use bleached flour and instant yeast to make bread faster for sales, but the outcome  is not good at all," said Mikus. Holding her new foldable recycle cup while strolling along stalls in the fair, visitor Jenn, who is not a vegetarian, dropped by briefly knowing there were recyclable cups, which she had "always wanted" on sale.   Though impressed by the creativity …