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Business

Live streaming commerce triggers another wave of consumption

"Don't go to sleep! Stay awake! Or you will lose hundreds of yuan!" A male live anchor yelled on the mobile phone screen, banging a gong. It was already 12 o'clock in midnight. Li Yuqing, a 20-year-old student from The Open University of Hong Kong, couldn't take her eyes off this live stream conducted by Austin Li, one of the hottest live streamers in mainland China. Meanwhile, another 100 million viewers tuned in, just like Ms Li.  Ms Li spent one thousand yuan on skin care products, pet supplies, and some luxuries from this live streamed show. It lasted seven hours and closed 8.809 million orders worth 690 million yuan. "Live streamers can provide more detailed explanations of the goods during live streaming, as well a lower price and more freebies," Ms Li said. This year's Double Eleven sales promotion activities have kicked off from Oct.21, with series of live broadcasts on the mainstream social media platform. According to the E-commerce live broadcast daily rank, the total revenue created by top 20 sales anchors from Taobao, Kuaishou, Tik Tok, reached 7.26 billion yuan on one day. This sales model releases huge consumption potential, drives the resumption of production and work, and becomes an important engine of traditional consumption and economic transformation. In February, over 30,000 sales anchors accessed to Taobao per day. The number of new anchors can see 100%. New live broadcasts as well as a 110% year-over-year growth in Gross Merchandise Volume. According to Sohu, Guangzhou Live E-commerce Research Institute and data provider Datastory jointly issued a live e-commerce trend report. The report reveals that the average of live views peaked in July at 2.4 million, but the average of each live streaming sales was at the lowest point during the same period, and turned to rise in …

Business

China's push on "street vendor economy" faces urban challenges

It is 4pm, Wang Jiayu brings a large parcel of toys to Archaize Street, in order to occupy a good position for the coming night before other vendors trickle in. The Street is the paradise for the night market in Datong, a city in Shanxi Province in mainland China. Every night, there are a host of vendors selling various goods. Wang Jiayu is one of the "familiar faces" of the street stall here as she has been setting up her stall since early June this year.  But they sold almost nothing, as if no one is visiting. She was so idle that she played with her pet dog, Lala. "Since school started, fewer people would like to hang out and we lost lots of customers," said Mrs.Wang.  She said her sales were 50% less than the summer vacation as the amounts of tourists and students significantly decreased. The goods she provides, such as toy cars and cartoon character models, are mostly targeted to children aged 5-12 who need to go to school on weekdays and busy with homework or tutorial classes at the weekend.  Apart from the instability caused by the fluctuation of the holidays, the street vendor economy also brings pressure to the city's sanitation, even affecting the physical stores.  Gao Yizhen, this 67-year-old man, is the cleaner of Archaize Street. He always works up late to make sure the streets are clean the next day since they night markets are not closing until midnight, "it is too exhausted to clean up until three in the morning." During summer vacation, when the night market with a large people flow is over, garbage such as plastic bags and bamboo sticks could be seen everywhere in this street. In addition to sweep the trash, the most difficult part for him was …

Society

Hong Kong ethnic minority face racial discrimination when seeking for housing

Malik Omar Zaman, a Pakistani who moved to Hong Kong 6 years ago, has been rejected more than 35 times when seeking a house in Hong Kong. He looked at about 50 apartments before he finally got to rent the current one.  "We found a nice apartment and the agent told us the landlord is not willing to give it to you," said Mr Zaman. Mr Zaman lives in a 350 square meter apartment in Yuen Long, one of the less expensive districts in Hong Kong, with his wife and two daughters.  Mr Zaman is among the 90% of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong who face racial discrimination when looking for a home, according to a survey  by two local NGOs, Hong Kong Unison and Hong Kong Ministry Refugee Group in late 2018. And though Hong Kong’s discrimination law makes this illegal, there is little recourse for rejected tenants who are often forced into illegal sub-divided flats and other substandard housing. There are a total of 583,383 ethnic minorities residing in Hong Kong, constituting 8% of the whole population. This includes Filipinos, Indonesia, Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Bangladeshis, and Sri-Lankans, according to the 2016 population By-census Thematic Report. Many of the ethnic minorities live in Tsim Sha Tsui, Yuen Long, Sham Shui Po, Tin Shui Wai, and Tuen Mun - where living costs are relatively low and around 40% of them live in a subdivided flat, according to the survey.  According to local ethnic rights advocacy groups, preconception about ethnic minorities and no legal charge for a rejection of tenants based on nationality are reasons for landlords not to lease apartments to ethnic minorities. The race discrimination ordinance in Hong Kong states that in any circumstances if on the ground of the race of that other person, a person treats that …

Politics

Masses gather at Prince Edward despite police banning placing flowers

Hongkongers mourned with flowers outside Prince Edward MTR station Monday evening - the 15-month anniversary of the 831 incident - despite police warning that those laid flowers might face prosecution.   Three people were fined for littering after presenting flowers near the exit around 4 pm, said Mong Kok East constituency District Councillor Ben Lam Siu-pan. "We just peacefully give flowers at the Prince Edward station. The police still crack down on us. It is ridiculous," Mr Lam said.  Mr Lam and other pan-democracy district councillors used to collect flowers left by protesters on the last day of every month outside the station. This year, they moved the paper boxes to Mr Lam's nearby office so that the ceremony could continue.  "The spirit still lives. We do not forget the 831 incident," he added.  Police have been accused of indiscriminately beating up passengers with batons and using pepper spray inside train compartments amid arrests of anti-extradition protesters in the railway station in August last year.  Rumours claimed someone died in the raid while officials declined. At least seven people were injured in the incident.  The city's protester Alexandra Wong Fung-yiu, nicknamed "Grandma Wong," appeared on the scene with white flowers and a yellow umbrella that had logos of the Union Flag on it. In October, she alleged that the Chinese authorities had detained her for 14 months in the mainland after she joined nearly every anti-extradition protest.  Mrs Lam, 58, only wants her surname to be shown for fear of being targeted by authorities, held a white flower in hands while facing the Prince Edward station across the street. She said she had stood there for one and a half hour to commemorate the "deaths" Mrs Lam said she joined the memorial at least five times. The recent surge of COVID-19 …

Health & Environment

COVID-19: Hong Kong might see more mass testing

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Simran Vaswani、Jasmine Tse、Janice LoEdited by: Cara Li
  • 2020-11-25

Hong Kong might see wide-spread COVID-19 community testing again, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday, as the city sees the highest number of infections since this summer, sparking a fourth wave.  Testing would be voluntary, she said, and targeting high-risk groups and asymptotic carriers. "It is essential for us to take all necessary measures to strengthen epidemic control by guarding against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections," said Mrs. Lam.  The first large-scale universal community testing was conducted in September with 1.78 million people tested, around 20% of the city's total population. The mass testing found 42 COVID-19 infections. Vinci Chan Hei-man, a registered nurse, agreed with the government's decision. "If implemented, such a step needs to properly target high-risk groups," said Ms. Chan.  "[Testing] has to be accompanied by stringent contact tracing and a population that understands the importance of strict adherence to social distancing rules," she added. A cluster was linked to elderly care homes in July, which caused a surge in the coronavirus death toll in the city, which is now 108. Hon Pierre Chan, legislative council member from the medical sector, said in a press conference that testing for high-risk groups is a "pragmatic and ideal" measure. "Even for the seasonal influenza, not all citizens are willing to get vaccinated. It is important not to force citizens to do testing," said Dr. Chan. Dr. Chan said Hong Kongers are hoping for stricter border control. He urged the government to block loopholes in border control policies.  Travellers from high-risk places such as the US, UK and India, need to provide proof of a negative virus test before boarding planes and a hotel confirmation for their 14-day quarantine.  A quarantine-free travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore …

Society

Hong Kong's frustrated medics still on shift despite fight over COVID, social unrest with government

For Dr. Arisina Ma, alarm bells rang in late August when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor called critics of the mass screening "the so-called doctors and experts who had political calculations and intended to smear the Central Government and damage its relationship with Hong Kong."  "I think this is the first time our officials used such strong comments about our usual, independent advice towards our healthcare policy," said Dr. Ma, the president of the Hong Kong Public Doctor's Association, the largest medical union in Hong Kong representing over 6,800 doctors and dentists. The turmoil last year -- from police brutality during pro-democracy protests to COVID-19 policies -- has amplified the frustration of public healthcare workers with the Hospital Authority and the government. Although the private sector might have greater autonomy and a lighter workload, medics are choosing to stay in the city's public hospitals.  Dr. Ma often shared professional opinions that did not align with official COVID measures. In late August, she said in an RTHK interview that she did not see the necessity of the mass screening when COVID-19 cases were slowing down and raised concerns over the test's accuracy. She published an article on Stand News in September, saying that relying on the health code, which is a proposed government policy, could put the city at risk because of "false-negatives." Non-participants might be restricted from entering public spaces and thus have their rights harmed, she also wrote.  Despite piled-up dissatisfaction, Dr. Ma continued working in United Christian Hospital, a public hospital operated by the Hospital Authority and the second public hospital she worked at after returning from the private sector in 2011.  "I stay for my patients. I don't stay for my boss or employer. I don't have any passion for my employer," Dr. Ma said.  …

Society

Mixed-mode art exhibition lights up Hong Kong cultural service in post-pandemic age

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Kitty Wang、Summer LiEdited by: Han Xu、Cassie Zhang
  • 2020-11-21

In face of the declining visits due to the public gathering restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong cultural sectors seek innovative solutions by delivering online/offline art programmes to the audience.  The Fest Box program, launched for free by the Leisure and Cultural Service Department on Nov. 1, enables the public to enjoy and immerse in various cultural programmes by simply clicking on the programme's website at home. "The online world allows us to explore more possibilities," said Addy Wong Ngan-ping, Senior Media Coordinator of Muse Fest HK in a promotion video of the Fest Box. Facilitated with advanced online technologies, the team was able to create a chance for global audiences to appreciate artworks at any time. The Fest Box is not the pioneer of the virtual exhibition in the arts industry. Statistics from HK01 show that since the implementation of the restrictive policies amid COVID-19, 94.9% of art performances, festivals, and venues have been cancelled or postponed during the first quarter of 2020. As a result, many local art exhibitions, art festivals, and venues have switched to online mode. From March 18 to 25, Art Basel Hong Kong, one of the local signature activities that were originally cancelled due to the epidemic, set up the "Online Viewing Rooms." The initial form was so welcomed by the public that online visitors increased by three times to 250,000 compared with the previous offline ones, according to the statistics of HK01. As the LCSD announced on October 28, the limit on the number of visitors in each facility of LCSD museums, performance venues, and parks was relaxed from 50% to 75% starting from Oct. 30. In response, some art service providers started to organise both online and offline cultural activities. The Hong Kong Space Museum presented the "Univers/e" virtual reality exhibition …

Business

Local tourism emerges as a cross-border travel stops

The tourism industry has been devastated since the outbreak of COVID-19. The number of visitors to Hong Kong dropped drastically by 99.9 per cent year-on-year, as mentioned earlier by Mr Edward Yau, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.  Since the government relaxed the social distancing ban last week, many travel agencies started to organize local tours. At the same time, the Hong Kong tourism board relaunched the "Hello Hong Kong" scheme to help the sector.  The board offers free tours for the citizens who spend HK$800 or more on the local brick-and-mortar shops, including retail stores and restaurants. It is estimated that the government will subsidize the travel agencies in total HK$5 million on a selective basis. While some travel agencies find the policies effective for their recovery, some think the policies did little in relieving the plight of the tour operators. Sue Tsang, the customer service officer of the China Travel Service, said there is popular demand for the campaign, and it directly brings business opportunities to domestic tourism.  The number of tourists who sign up for other locally escorted tours remains limited. For the sake of overcoming the difficult times, China Travel Service also promotes discounted prepaid coupons and staycation packages.  "I have to stretch my legs. Although the local tour is not my priority, it is still a choice," said Eric Cheung, a middle-aged man who intends to enquire about international tours in the travel agency, chose to join local tours instead. Although the government has reopened the border, executed measures such as local inbound tours, the agencies' staff reckon that it is still unable to save those agencies which are on the verge of collapse. "There is no room for survival if the government does not implement new rules for cross-border tourism," said Wong Ka-lam, …

Society

"Cyberpunk" exhibition takes place at former Sham Shui Po homeless camp

The "Heart of Cyberpunk" exhibition opened last week at the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market in Sham Shui Po, which used to be a homeless camp. The 9-day free-to-enter exhibition featured various workshops, guided tours and interactive sections with local artists. It marked the start of #ddHK, a 3-year Creative Tourism and Placemaking Project by Hong Kong Design Centre, since last October. However, the venue of the exhibition turned controversial as the Market was known as the camp for the homeless. The market was locked and the homeless had to move to the Tung Chau Street Park nearby.  This project was criticized as an accomplice in driving out the homeless, despite they had clarified later on their Facebook page. Ng Wai Tung, Community Organizer of the Society for Community Organization, agreed that there was no causal relationship between the exhibition and clearance of street sleepers at the spot. "The clearance took place in 2019, and ended by the end of the year. The police would suspect street sleepers for keeping drugs or offensive weapons, and bring them to the police station, and cordoned off their wooden house right away." Mr Ng said that the clearance was a step-by-step operation. The Highways Department would clear up the wooden house, and set up wire fences. So the homeless had no choice, but moved into the Tung Chau Street Park, and places like McDonald's. However, street sleepers' belongings had been damaged and lost during the clearance by the police. The Society for Community Organization has been helping 10 street sleepers, filing claims to the government at the Small Claims Tribunal for loss of personal belongings, ranging HK$2,200 to HK$13,290.  The lost items included clothing, cards, and cash, however invaluable items such as gifts from family, and photos, were unable to claim for compensation. …

Business

Exhibition of food and beverage industry in HK draws over 270 brands

The 3-day Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong X Gourmet Asia exhibition at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre ended on Nov. 13. Once postponed due to COVID-19, the Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong X Gourmet Asia exhibition was the only trade show for Hong Kong's food and beverage industry this year. Over 270 exhibitors and brands were participating in this event presenting spirits and beer; food service and catering equipment; hospitality design and supplies, as well as hospitality technology. The exhibition adopted hygienic precautions amid the pandemic. According to the posters and leaflets inside the venue, people were required to wear masks at all times and keep a safe distance of 1 meter when in queues. Buyers were asked to dispose of used lidded paper cups in a designed rubbish bin. Liang Jia, a 29-year old wholesale buyer who sought to buy meat said she felt the rules and measures were stricter compared to last year. She felt it is inconvenient to toss the trash into the designated bin since the bins were located far from each stall. Some exhibitors made their products specifically to cater to the time of the pandemic. Sales manager Twinkle Wong from BBPOS, a payment service provider, introduced their new vending machine without human contacts in the purchasing process. She believed that the risk of being infected would be reduced. "COVID-19 has shown the society the need for zero-contact ordering and payment methods in the food and beverage industry," Ms Wong said, adding that this was the debut of the machine in Hong Kong. The pandemic has raised the need among consumers to live a healthy and green life, which leads to strong demands for natural and organic products. Sales representative Winnie Choi from Green Common, a vegan product company, said they have seen …