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Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival kicks off in blaze of colour
9 June 2016 - Scores of paddlers clashed on the waterways in glorious sunshine on Thursday morning as they kicked-off the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Across the city, centuries-old traditions returned with events scattered from Tai O to Aberdeen, Stanley to Sha Tin, with hordes of chanting onlookers and participants bracing themselves for the tough competition and searing conditions. The races were a feast for the senses as boats sped past the spectators in a flurry of spray and bright fabric. The highlight in Tai O village was was a water parade featuring three dragon boats bearing temple deities and shuttling around the stilt houses, in hope of entertaining the gods and blessing the village. (more)

Hong Kong shares close at seven-year high on hopes of fresh inflows
10 April 2015 - Hong Kong stocks closed on Friday at a seven-year high, posting their biggest weekly gain in more than three years, as the city's bourse expects investment quotas for mainland investors to rise by over 30 per cent to accommodate heavy capital inflows. On Friday, mainland investors used about half of the 10.5 billion yuan ($1.69 billion) daily quota for Hong Kong shares under the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect scheme. (more)

Incense trees flourish again in Hong Kong
24 December 2014 - On land deep in Hong Kong's lush green northern suburbs near the border with mainland China, farmer Koon-wing Chan is working to keep a legendary scent alive in the city known as the Fragrant Harbour. Chan runs Hong Kong's last commercial plantation of agarwood trees, prized throughout the centuries for aromatic resin used to make incense, perfume, and medicine. (more)

Hong Kong protests thin as two sides agree to talk
7 October 2014 - Crowds of protesters who filled Hong Kong's streets with demands for more democracy thinned dramatically Tuesday after student leaders and the government agreed to hold talks in the increasingly frustrated city. The government and students leaders announced they will begin talks on political reform on Friday. Just a few days after tens of thousands of demonstrators thronged the city's streets, only a couple thousand protesters were scattered across the three main protest areas on Tuesday night. (more)

Organic food growing popular in Hong Kong
14 September 2014 - It's a rural tradition that faded out decades ago as Hong Kong turned into a neon-lit megacity: rice seedlings being dropped into watery paddy fields with gentle plops. But now a new wave of farmers are growing the staple again in sleepy Long Valley in the city's northern New Territories, where buzzing insects and flocking birds offer a rich contrast to the high rise blocks in the distance. The naturally-farmed rice paddies started reappearing in Long Valley seven years ago after a 40-odd year absence. (more)

Hong Kong starts destroying ivory cache
15 May 2014 - Hong Kong started incinerating its nearly 30-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory on Thursday to show it's serious about cracking down on an illegal wildlife trade that is devastating Africa's elephant population. Destroying the 28-ton stockpile, which is one of the world's biggest, is expected to take until mid-2015. The fine dark gray ash left after incineration will be mixed with cement and lime and dumped in a landfill. About 1.6 tonnes of ivory will be kept for educational or scientific purposes. The destruction follows similar initiatives in the past year by Belgium, France, China, the US, and the Philippines. (more)

Hong Kong: Special stamp issue - 'International Day of Families'
30 April 2014 - Hongkong Post on 30 April announced that a set of special stamps titled the 'International Day of Families' will be released for sale with associated philatelic products on 15 May. The family is the mainstay of society, a press release stated. Hongkong Post will issue a set of special stamps on the theme of the International Day of Families to highlight the importance of upholding family values. (more)

Hong Kong ushers in the year of the horse
1 February 2014 - Chinese communities around the world were ushering in the year of the horse with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is marked with a particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial centre that expects nearly 8 million visitors from 29 January to 6 February -- more than the local population of 7.1 million. (more)

Fulfilling conservation groups' request, Hong Kong to burn one of Asia's major stockpiles of ivory
23 January 2014 - Hong Kong plans to destroy 95 per cent of one of Asia's major hoards of confiscated ivory, fulfilling a long-standing demand by conservation groups that battle trafficking in the contraband material. The incineration will begin this year and is expected to take one or two years to complete. The ivory is currently stored in four undisclosed government facilities under tight security, complete with closed-circuit television cameras and guards. (more)

Cashmere World 2013 a big success; Afghanistan generates buzz
11 October 2013 - Serenity prevailed at the Cashmere World 2013 that closed its doors on 27 September 2013, after three days of intense activity between more than 60 exhibitors and 2,000 buyers who visited the fair held in Hong Kong. There was a lot of buzz around the AfghanMade cashmere booth. Afghanistan is currently the third largest producer of cashmere in the world after China and Mongolia, and the potential for the cashmere industry in Afghanistan is significant. Production from Afghanistan is hoped to alleviate the worrying global shortage of raw material, attributed to the reduction of grazing land and of animals raised for their fibres. (more)


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Short Summaries of Top Stories


Hong Kong study: E-cigarettes -- a million times more harmful than outdoor air for cancer-causing substances
29 February 2016 - Electronic cigarettes were found to contain one million times more cancer-causing substances than outdoor air in a study by Baptist University. Researchers also discovered a type of flame retardant that affected the reproductive system and could lead to cancer -- the first such discovery in e-cigarettes. The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, which commissioned the study, called for a ban on e-cigarettes as soon as possible before they become more popular. In analyzing 13 types of e-cigarettes bought on the market, researchers found that the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) -- a by-product of burning petroleum that is commonly detected in roadside air -- ranged from 2.9 to 504.5 nanograms per millilitre. The substance, which contains highly carcinogenic chemicals such as benzo(a)pryene, also carries various kinds of chemicals that promote growth of cancer cells. (more)

In Hong Kong, no endgame for chaotic protests
17 October 2014 - Three weeks ago, students at a rally stormed a fenced-off courtyard outside Hong Kong's government headquarters, triggering unprecedented mass protests for greater democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese city. Since then, the movement has spiraled into a volatile and dangerous crisis with no clear endgame. A government offer to negotiate with students appears highly unlikely to resolve the largest uprising since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 17 years ago. Here are three key questions as the democracy protests continue to unfold: (more)

Hong Kong standoff reflects wide rifts in society
5 October 2014 - The story of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's top leader, is the type of rags-to-riches tale that is generally admired in this commercially-minded city. But Leung is deeply unpopular, thanks mainly to his longstanding ties with mainland China. Beijing's burgeoning influence in this former British colony is a key factor driving protests that have paralyzed parts of this dynamic city and brought on some of the worst confrontations in decades. Anger toward Beijing is not shared by all in Hong Kong, and the scuffles that began Friday between protesters and people trying to force them off the streets reflect widening rifts within this city of 7 million. Protesters and their supporters have turned out by the tens of thousands at times over the past week to voice their disapproval of Leung and of plans that would require a pro-Beijing committee to screen the nomination for Hong Kong's inaugural election for chief executive in 2017. The dissatisfaction that sparked the protests extends well beyond unhappiness with Leung and political reforms. Incomes have stagnated while living costs have soared. (more)

Masses of Mercedes thicken Hong Kong air-pollution mess
15 April 2014 - Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world to do business. As long as you don't breathe. Toxic air caused 3,279 premature deaths last year in the city that means 'fragrant harbour' in Chinese, contributing to more than 5.5 million doctor visits in the metropolis of 7.2 million, according to an index developed by the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health. A 35 per cent surge in private-car registrations in the past decade is confounding the policy makers who want cleaner air without the license restrictions and congestion charges imposed by rival financial centres London and Singapore. Even other Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are trying to clear pollution by curbing vehicles. Hong Kong has the third-most vehicles per kilometre of road -- after Monaco and the United Arab Emirates. Cars dominate major links at peak times even though most people use mass transit, according to a study from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, supported by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. While 90 per cent of residents rely on public transport to commute, buses accounted for no more than 7 per cent of vehicles on Central's Connaught Road at rush hour and 30 per cent in Causeway Bay, the study found. (more)

Hong Kong's air kills 1,600 early in 2013 first half, says study
12 July 2013 - Hong Kong's air pollution caused more than 1,600 premature deaths in the first half of the year, almost 40 times the number of fatalities attributed to the H7N9 avian flu virus, according to a study by the Clean Air Network. The air pollution also cost HK$18.7 billion ($2.4 billion) in the six months ended 30 June, showed the study, which cited data from the Hedley Environmental Index. It was responsible for 76,361 days spent in the hospital and 3.6 million visits to doctors, the data show. (more)

Worst pollution this year envelops Hong Kong
15 April 2013 - On Monday, 15 April, Hong Kong residents breathed in the worst air of 2013, joining citizens in mainland China who have been choking on dangerously high pollution levels, and further undermining the city's role as an Asian financial centre. The situation was caused as pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide, became trapped within the city where skyscrapers packed together stop air from circulating, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said. People with heart or respiratory illnesses, the elderly, and children were advised to stay indoors as the city's iconic harbour was shrouded in thick smog and the skyscrapers of Hong Kong island were barely visible from Kowloon. (more)

In wealthy Hong Kong, poorest live in metal cages
7 February 2013 - For many of the richest people in Hong Kong, one of Asia's wealthiest cities, home is a mansion with an expansive view from the heights of Victoria Peak. For some of the poorest, home is a metal cage. The cages, stacked on top of each other, measure 1.5 square metres (16 square feet) and resemble rabbit hutches. Some 100,000 people in the former British colony live in what's known as inadequate housing, according to the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group. The category also includes apartments subdivided into tiny cubicles or filled with coffin-sized wood and metal sleeping compartments as well as rooftop shacks. They're a grim counterpoint to the southern Chinese city's renowned material affluence. Forced by skyrocketing housing prices to live in cramped, dirty and unsafe conditions, their plight also highlights one of the biggest headaches facing Hong Kong's unpopular Beijing-backed leader: growing public rage over the city's housing crisis. (more)

Hong Kong govt criticised over slow response to plastic spill on beaches
4 August 2012 - Hundreds of millions of potentially toxic plastic pellets from containers knocked off a vessel during Hong Kong's worst typhoon in 13 years have washed up on its beaches where they lay for more than a week, activists said on Saturday. The Hong Kong government estimated that 150 tonnes of the pellets may have been spilled on its beaches, of which a third have been cleaned up so far. Local media questioned the government's lack of public notice about the spill, almost two weeks after Typhoon Vincente which was upgraded to Signal 10. It was the first time since 1999 that the city's meteorological body had invoked its highest measure. While the pellets are harmless in their original state, they absorb toxins and pollutants over time and could poison the food chain when marine creatures consume them. (more)

Hong Kong smothered in worst air pollution two years
2 August 2012 - The worst pollution in two years smothered Hong Kong for a second day on Thursday, prompting warnings to the old and sick to stay indoors and obscuring one of the world's most famous views. Pollution readings were 'very high' in business and shopping districts such as Central, Western, Causeway Bay, and Mongkok, air monitoring stations showed, surpassed only once in March 2010 when a sandstorm in northern China covered Hong Kong in dust. In a recent survey by human resources consultancy ECA International, Hong Kong distinguished itself as a place where its air quality was among the worst in the world. The pollution comes largely from coal-fired power stations and traffic, though a significant contribution wafts down from the tens of thousands of factories in China's neighbouring manufacturing heartland of the Pearl River Delta. (more)

Ketamine abuse may lead to bladder damage, pain
8 July 2011 - A new study finds that long-term regular use of the club drug ketamine, sometimes called Special K, can alter bladder function, leading to bothersome symptoms such as urgency and pelvic pain. Abuse of ketamine, a powerful anesthetic, is on the rise in many countries. Repeated use has been linked to mental problems such as hallucinations and impaired memory, thinking, and concentration. It also causes high blood pressure. Symptoms may persist for up to a year or more after a person stops using ketamine. (more)

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