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Hong Kong

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Jia Jia, a giant panda believed to have been the oldest ever kept in captivity, has died at the age of 38, Hong Kong officials say.

Jia Jia’s age in human terms was more than 100 years.

Her death was announced by the Hong Kong theme park where she lived.


Jia Jia’s condition had worsened rapidly in recent weeks and she had lost her appetite, the park said.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

The giant panda was put down by vets at Ocean Park, her home since 1999.

“She was a member of our family and she will be deeply missed… she has served as an important animal ambassador for her species,” the park said in a statement.

According to the park, in the last two weeks, Jia Jia’s daily food intake had dropped from over 10kg to less than 3kg per day, and she had lost weight.

“Over the past few days, she has been spending less time awake and showing no interest in food or fluids.

“Her condition became worse this morning. Jia Jia was not able to walk about without difficulties and spent the day laying down.”

Vets took the decision to put the giant panda down to prevent suffering, the park said.

The Hong Kong park held a high-profile celebration for Jia Jia’s 37th birthday at her enclosure in July 2015.

Born in 1978 in the wild in Sichuan, China, Jia Jia was given to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the semi-autonomous city’s handover by Britain two years earlier.

Pandas normally live to around 20 years of age in the wild, and 25 in captivity.

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Hong Kong maids have taken to the streets of the city to demand a ban on them being asked to clean windows in high-rise buildings.

The protest came after the deaths of several helpers in recent months.

Domestic workers also called for a pay rise, a limit on working hours and better accommodation.

Spokesman for the Asian Migrants Co-ordinating Body Eman Villanueva told the South China Morning Post: “We are hopeful that our demands will be met.”

He added: “There are no reasons to reject them unless this is an anti-immigrant government.”

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

Early last month, a 35-year-old Filipino domestic worker fell to her death as she was reportedly cleaning the windows of her employer’s flat. At least four other helpers are reported to have died this year from work accidents or suicide.

The protest also called for a rise in the minimum wage for foreign domestic workers to HK$5,000 (US$645) a month.

Hong Kong’s minimum wage is currently HK$4,210 per month, and employers are required to provide “suitable accommodation” as well as free food or a food allowance.

The South China Morning Post quotes a study by the non-profit Justice Centre which suggests the average domestic worker in Hong Kong works nearly 12 hours a day, and nearly 40% did not have their own room.

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A North Korean defector has entered the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong seeking asylum, the South China Morning Post reports.

The publication reported that the 18-year-old

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

defector participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad held in Hong Kong recently.

Police patrols around the area have been boosted and security stepped up.

China, which has authority over Hong Kong’s diplomatic issues, has reportedly been notified.

South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to comment, with an official saying the government’s position was not to make any comments related to defectors from Pyongyang.

Local media suggests the Hong Kong government is keen to avoid a similar outcome of a saga in 2013 where US whistle-blower Edward Snowden hid in a Hong Kong hotel before flying to Russia for temporary asylum.

Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the constitutional document of the territory, China has authority over diplomatic issues.

China usually sends back North Koreans found entering its territory illegally. South Korea usually takes in and rehabilitates North Koreans who escape.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry’s website says more than 29,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the Korean War.

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Hong Kong police have clashed with protesters in Mong Kok district after clearing of illegal food stalls set up for Lunar New Year celebrations.

At least 23 people were arrested.

Violence erupted overnight as food and hygiene inspectors tried to remove vendors from the junction of Portland Street and Shan Tung Street.

Angry protesters threw bricks and other missiles at police.

Police used batons and pepper spray and fired two warning shots into the air. At least 44 people, including police and journalists, were injured.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung has condemned the unrest, saying Hong Kong “can never tolerate that and the police will spare no effort to arrest the rioters”.

It is the largest unrest in Hong Kong since the massive pro-democracy street protests in 2014.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Street stalls are common in the Mong Kok area year-round, but particularly during the New Year holiday, where they are popular with locals for selling traditional New Year snacks.

Ahead of the clearance operation, hundreds of people had gathered in the area to defend the hawkers.

Police said the vendors and activists were told to leave but ignored the warnings.

Clashes then broke out in the early hours, and carried on past dawn..

Among the protesters were reportedly some “localist” – anti-Beijing – groups.

One of them was arrested, CY Leung said.

Acting District Commander Yau Siu-kei confirmed reports that an officer had fired two warning shots into the air. He said the officer had to act protect colleagues, the South China Morning Post said.

The unrest was widely referenced on social media, where it was dubbed #fishballrevolution after one of the food delicacies sold by the hawkers.

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Chinese police have arrested 19,000 suspects in a three-month cross-border anti-triad operation in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong province, state media say.

Police said triad gangs were increasingly expanding into mainland China.

The organized-crime involved includes drug dealing, gambling and prostitution.

Triads are transnational crime groups, often based in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, but operating globally.

Photo Tumblr

Photo Tumblr

“The message we want to send out to the public is that police have zero tolerance for organized crimes and any other illegal activities,” Au Chin-chau, chief superintendent of Hong Kong police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau told journalists.

Illegal loans were also found to be a new source of income for the gangs, he said.

Reports said 4,343 people, 1,177 of them from mainland China, were arrested by police in Hong Kong, where more than 7,500 properties were searched.

In Hong Kong, police seized $102 million Hong Kong dollars ($13 million) in cash, along with drugs, pirated DVDs, weapons and contraband cigarettes worth HK$67 million.

In neighboring Guangdong province, more than 11,000 suspects were arrested.

In Macau, almost 4,000 people were picked up by police.

The crime-sweep, part of a regular operation codenamed Thunderbolt 15, was reportedly the longest joint operation of its kind, and a model for increasing cross-border police cooperation in the future, state media said.

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China has decided to stop issuing multiple entry Hong Kong visas to residents of Shenzhen, state media reports.

The move is an attempt by Beijing to ease growing anger in Hong Kong over shopping trips by mainlanders who are take advantage of lower taxes.

Shenzhen residents will now only be able to enter Hong Kong once per week, and stay for no longer than a week.

Hong Kong officials say 47 million visits were made in 2014 by mainland Chinese people.

About a tenth of those visits were by people who entered Hong Kong more than once a week, a large proportion of them Shenzhen residents holding multiple entry visas.Shenzhen travel

Many of the visitors buy up household goods in bulk to resell across the border – as Hong Kong does not charge sales tax – despite this being illegal.

There have been angry protests in recent months over this so-called parallel trading, occasionally resulting in scuffles in shopping malls close to the border.

China’s Xinhua news agency, citing the ministry of security, said on April 13 that the new rules applied immediately.

It said the decision had been made because of concerns that Hong Kong was struggling to cope with the huge numbers of tourists.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung welcomed the move, saying he had raised the issue with Beijing in June.

Mainlanders have to get permission from their government to enter Hong Kong.

CY Leung warned that existing visas would remain valid, meaning it could take some time for the effect of the change to be seen.

He also cautioned that the “unruly protests” seen in towns close to the border had actually hampered the discussions and “hurt the feelings between the people of Hong Kong and the mainland”, the South China Morning Post reports.

Parallel trading has been a key factor in the growing anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong.

There is huge demand in China for household items from Hong Kong, in particular milk powder, as they are seen as being both cheaper and better quality.

Hong Kongers say this trade pushes up costs and causes huge delays at border crossings, while also complaining about poor behavior from mainlanders.

The authorities on both sides of the border routinely arrest people caught smuggling and crack down on commercial operators, but locals have long demanded more decisive action.

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Law Wan-tung, the Hong Kong woman convicted of abusing her Indonesian maid, has been jailed for six years.

Law Wan-tung was found guilty earlier this month of causing grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages.

Maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih drew global attention last year when she returned to Indonesia in need of hospital treatment.

During the trial, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih described being beaten and starved by her employer.

The case drew intense scrutiny in Hong Kong, where a significant number of families rely on domestic helpers.Law Wan-tung sentenced to six years in jail for abusing Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

The city’s residents employ about 300,000 maids from other parts of Asia, mainly Indonesia and the Philippines.

In addition to the jail sentence, Law Wan-tung, 44, was also fined HK$15,000 ($1,934). She had faced a maximum sentence of seven years.

During the six-week trial the court heard that Law Wan-tung beat Erwiana Sulistyaningsih with various household objects and deprived her of proper food, allowing her only a small portion of rice and bread.

Law Wan-tung, a mother of two, only allowed Erwiana Sulistyaningsih to sleep four hours a night. On one occasion Law Wan-tung punched the maid so hard that her incisor teeth fractured.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Amanda Woodcock said Law Wan-tung “showed no compassion” to Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and other domestic staff.

Law Wan-tung saw them as “people that are beneath her”, Judge Amanda Woodcock said and called for an investigation by authorities in Hong Kong and Indonesia into workers’ conditions.

Twenty-four-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih arrived in Hong Kong in 2013. She went home to her village in Central Java in January 2014 after working for Law Wan-tung for about eight months.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih came home beaten and bruised, too weak to walk and without any money. Her face, hands and legs were covered with scabs and lacerations. Parts of her skin were blackened and peeling.

The maid’s case has prompted the Indonesian government to look at better ways of protecting its migrant workers.

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McDonald’s has suspended sale of chicken nuggets and some other products in Hong Kong.

The fast food chain said it had imported chicken and pork from Shanghai Husi Food, the Chinese company that allegedly supplied out of date meat to fast food firms.

China has suspended operations of Shanghai Husi after local media reports claimed it re-processed expired meat.

McDonald’s had removed nuggets from its menus at its Japanese outlets earlier this week over the same issue.

It said on Wednesday that about 20% of its chicken nuggets sold in Japan came from Shanghai Husi.

McDonald's has suspended sale of chicken nuggets and some other products in Hong Kong

McDonald’s has suspended sale of chicken nuggets and some other products in Hong Kong

McDonald’s said that nearly 500 stores in Japan had removed chicken nuggets from their menu, adding that sales were expected to resume after it switches to other suppliers in China and Thailand.

The company has also stopped selling its McSpicy chicken filets, chicken and green salads, fresh corn cups and iced lemon tea at its outlets in Hong Kong.

The move came after Hong Kong’s food safety regulator suspended all imports from Shanghai Husi Food.

The regulator added that any food products from Husi already imported into Hong Kong would be marked, sealed and banned from sale, pending the results of the ongoing investigation by Chinese authorities.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency quoted McDonald’s as saying that it had imported certain products from Shanghai Husi between July last year to June this year, but no food items from the Shanghai supplier remained in stock.

“We reiterate that until today, all the food sold at McDonald’s restaurants conforms to the food safety standard under Hong Kong legal regulations,” the company said.

Shanghai Husi is the Chinese unit of US-based food supplier OSI Group.

Its other customers in China include Yum Brand owned KFC, coffee chain Starbucks and Burger King.

Japanese convenience store operator, FamilyMart, has also admitted that its “Garlic Nugget” imported from the Shanghai firm was sold at nearly all of its 10,000 outlets across Japan.

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Over 500 protesters have been arrested in Hong Kong during a pro-democracy sit-in at the city’s business district.

The demonstrators were arrested for illegal assembly and obstructing police officers, Hong Kong police said.

The sit-in came after tens of thousands of protesters marched on Tuesday in what was described as the city’s largest democracy rally in a decade.

The annual rally, marking the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, was to demand full electoral freedom.

Organizers said turnout at the rally was 510,000, while police said about 98,600 took part during the peak of the march.

After the main march had ended, hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in in the city’s Central district.

Police said the sit-in was “unauthorized” and began removing some of the participants in the early hours of Wednesday.

Over 500 protesters have been arrested during Hong Kong annual rally

Over 500 protesters have been arrested during Hong Kong annual rally

Some demonstrators linked arms in an attempt to stop police from moving them.

Police said a total of 511 demonstrators – 351 men and 160 women – were arrested in the operation to clear the area.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihoods,” CY Leung said.

Analysts say Hong Kong faces divided views on the city’s democratic development, and growing tensions between activists and the Chinese government.

Pro-democracy activists want Hong Kong people to be able to elect the city’s leader, known as the chief executive.

China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for the city’s 2017 election – but wants a committee to approve the candidates.

In June, an unofficial referendum on how to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day referendum had no legal standing. The Chinese government has described the referendum as an “illegal farce”.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

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Hong Kong activists are organizing the largest pro-democracy protest in more than a decade.

The annual rally, which marks the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, will focus on pressuring Beijing for full electoral freedom, organizers said.

The rally is organized days after an unofficial referendum on how to choose the chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day poll had no legal standing.

Organizers expect more than half a million people to join the rally, which will kick off in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park at 03:00 and will head to the Central district.

Several campaign groups have also indicated that they will stage peaceful overnight vigils after the march.

More than half a million people are expected to join Hong Kong pro-democracy rally, which will kick off in Victoria Park

More than half a million people are expected to join Hong Kong pro-democracy rally, which will kick off in Victoria Park

The rally in 2003 drew half a million people, who demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws which were later scrapped.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihood,” CY Leung said.

Beijing has said it will hold elections for the role of chief executive in 2017, but the public will only have a choice of candidates selected by a nominating committee.

Campaigners want the public to be able to elect Hong Kong’s leader directly and believe that Beijing will use the committee to screen out candidates it disapproves of.

The unofficial referendum, organized by campaign group Occupy Central, allowed the public to decide which of three proposals – all of which involved allowing citizens to directly nominate candidates – to present to Beijing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems”, where the city would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs” for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.

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An unofficial referendum organized by pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and denounced by Chinese authorities is now in its final day.

At least 738,000 Hong Kongers have done something China’s 1.3 billion people can only dream of: Cast a ballot to demand a democratic government.

The 10-day poll is organized by protest group Occupy Central, which says more than 700,000 have already voted online or in person.

A Hong Kong government spokesman has said the vote has no legal standing.

Campaigners want the former British colony to be able to elect their leader, or the chief executive. China has pledged direct elections by 2017.

More than 700,000 people have already voted online or in person in Hong Kong’s unofficial referendum

More than 700,000 people have already voted online or in person in Hong Kong’s unofficial referendum

However, voters will only have a choice from a list of candidates selected by a nominating committee, and China’s communist authorities have said all candidates must be “patriotic”.

The voting in polling stations or on popvote.hk website began on June 20. The deadline was originally set at June 22, but was later extended after organizers claimed were several cyber attacks on the website.

Popvote.hk was designed by the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University to measure support for Occupy Central’s campaign.

In the referendum, voters have the choice of three proposals – all of which involve allowing citizens to directly nominate Hong Kong’s chief executive – to present to the Beijing government.

Pro-democracy activists want the public to nominate the candidates.

But Chinese leaders believe this is illegal and would like to see a committee decide who is on that public ballot, effectively limiting the candidate field to those approved by the authorities in Beijing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems”, where the city would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs” for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.

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Lufsig, a stuffed toy wolf stocked by IKEA, has sold out in Hong Kong, after it became an unlikely symbol of anti-government protest.

Based on the Red Riding Hood fairytale wolf, the toy flew off the shelves as people queued up for it from morning.

An anti-government protester is said to have thrown the toy at Hong Kong’s leader CY Leung over the weekend.

Its Chinese name sounds similar to a Cantonese profanity and critics have long nicknamed Mr Leung “the wolf”.

A spokesman for IKEA Hong Kong said that customers arrived at the stores to queue for the toy at 07:00 local time and that by 11:10 the wolf had sold out.

IKEA’s Lufsig has sold out in Hong Kong, after it became an unlikely symbol of anti-government protest

IKEA’s Lufsig has sold out in Hong Kong, after it became an unlikely symbol of anti-government protest

IKEA did not comment on any political message being read into the small stuffed animal, but it did say that none of its products in Hong Kong, including its soft toy range, had Chinese names.

The wolf in question is called Lufsig in Hong Kong as it is elsewhere in the world.

However, IKEA’s website for mainland China features the toy with a Chinese name, which sounds similar to a profanity in the Cantonese dialect.

CY Leung has long been labeled “the wolf” by his opponents because his name resembles the Chinese word for wolf and they accuse him of being cunning.

The toy even has its own Facebook page featuring spoof pictures of the wolf in various locations, including one with an image of the chief executive’s face superimposed on top.

CY Leung was appointed as Hong Kong’s chief executive by a committee last year and has suffered from extremely poor popularity ratings.

Among his tasks will be introducing a blueprint for universal suffrage allowing Hong Kong residents to choose his successor in 2017.

His critics are skeptical of his ability to manage this process because of his ties with Beijing.

Meanwhile IKEA says that new stock of Lufsig is expected in early January 2014.

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Thousands of people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to protest against what they see as a lack of government transparency and accountability following Hong Kong Television Network controversy.

Police put the turnout at 20,000, while organizers said 120,000 were there.

The controversy was sparked last week when the government declined to grant a free-to-air license to Hong Kong Television Network.

Thousands of people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to protest against what they see as a lack of government transparency and accountability

Thousands of people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to protest against what they see as a lack of government transparency and accountability

Critics of the government have urged officials to give a clear account of why the license was refused.

Organizer Kristine Chan, from Hong Kong Free TV Action, told the Associated Press: “People are feeling very angry about this event, that the government is not really giving us many choices of free TV and trying to monopolies the industry by limiting the licenses.”

Lawrence Lau, a Hong Kong citizen taking part in the protest, said: “They don’t have the resolve to make a fair decision. They always suppress Hong Kong people and try to favor the government in Beijing.”

A spokesman for the city’s Commerce Bureau has said the content of discussions made during meetings of the Executive Council were, as a rule, not made public.

Hong Kong is preparing for the arrival of typhoon Usagi, which is expected to be the strongest storm to hit the city in more than 30 years.

Officials have suspended activity at the port – one of the world’s busiest – and cancelled most flights.

In mainland China thousands of boats in the Pearl River Delta have been taken inland due to fears of high tides.

At least two people were killed by the storm as it crossed the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Typhoo Usagi – which means rabbit in Japanese – packed winds of 103 mph as it closed in on China’s densely populated Pearl River Delta.

China’s National Meteorological Centre has issued its highest alert, warning that Typhoon Usagi would bring gales and downpours to parts of the southern coast, according to Xinhua news agency.

More than 80,000 people have moved to safer ground in Fujian province, Xinhua said, and the authorities in Guangdong have asked more than 44,000 fishing boats to return to port.

Hong Kong is preparing for the arrival of typhoon Usagi, which is expected to be the strongest storm to hit the city in more than 30 years

Hong Kong is preparing for the arrival of typhoon Usagi, which is expected to be the strongest storm to hit the city in more than 30 years

Technicians at the Guangdong nuclear plant have been trying to ensure the installation is secure ahead of the typhoon.

Many airlines have cancelled flights to cities in Guangdong and Fujian, and shipping has been suspended between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, Xinhua reported.

In Hong Kong, meteorologists are warning of severe floods due to powerful winds and exceptionally high tides.

The Hong Kong Observatory warned of “severe” disruption to the city.

If the situation does not improve soon, many businesses including the stock exchange will be shut on Monday.

En route to Hong Kong and southern China, Typhoon Usagi forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people in southern Taiwan.

It also hit the northernmost islands of the Philippines, where it cut communication and power lines and triggered landslides.

Typhoons are common during the summer in parts of East Asia, where the warm moist air and low pressure conditions enable tropical cyclones to form.

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A passenger on board of Newark-bound United Airlines flight has claimed to have “poisoned everyone on board”.

The suspect is being restrained by others on board and there is no evidence that passengers have been poisoned, Eyewitness News reports.

A passenger on board of Newark-bound United Airlines flight has claimed to have poisoned everyone on board

A passenger on board of Newark-bound United Airlines flight has claimed to have poisoned everyone on board

The United Airlines flight, from Hong Kong, is set to land at 2:05 p.m.

Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington, D.C., are aware of the incident and are responding.

The man and others on board will be interviewed when plane lands.

Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong have marched to the US consulate in support of ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

They demanded that local authorities protect Edward Snowden, who is in hiding in Hong Kong.

Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed that US agencies had systematically gathered vast amounts of phone and web data.

He also gave an interview to a local newspaper alleging that US intelligence had been hacking into Chinese computer networks.

Protesters and local politicians have demanded clarification from the US government on the allegations.

“Hong Kong is one of the few places in China where internet freedom is still OK. Now the American government is hacking into us,” one protester said.

“That is a crime against human rights.”

Another man brought a poster containing a picture of US President Barack Obama and the words “Big Brother is watching you”.

Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong have marched to the US consulate in support of ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong have marched to the US consulate in support of ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post this week that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had led more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including many in Hong Kong and mainland China.

He said targets in Hong Kong included the Chinese University, public officials and businesses.

Edward Snowden left Hawaii for Hong Kong shortly before the highly sensitive leaks surfaced and has vowed to fight any attempt to extradite him to the US.

“I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Edward Snowden told the Post, which said the interview was carried out in a secret location in Hong Kong.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate.”

In a US Senate hearing earlier this week, NSA director Keith Alexander defended the internet and telephone data snooping programmes, saying they had disrupted dozens of terror plots.

Intelligence officials have insisted agents do not listen in on Americans’ telephone conversations. And they maintain the internet communications surveillance programme, reportedly code-named Prism, targeted only non-Americans located outside of the US.

Although the information leaked by Edward Snowden has angered the US government, so far he has not been charged by the authorities, nor is he the subject of an extradition request.

Hong Kong’s government says it does not comment on individual cases but will follow any request according to the law, our correspondent reports.

Analysts say any attempts to bring Edward Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.

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Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency, ending a two-year battle that has split opinion.

The case had centred on Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a maid from the Philippines who has worked in Hong Kong for more than 17 years.

Domestic workers had argued that denying them permanent residency was unconstitutional.

The ruling has implications for Hong Kong’s 300,000 domestic workers.

These workers come mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia, often spending years in the territory.

Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has ruled that domestic workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency

“The FDH [foreign domestic helper] is obliged to return to the country of origin at the end of the contract and is told from the outset that admission is not for the purposes of settlement and that dependants cannot be brought to reside in Hong Kong,” the Court of Final Appeal said in a written judgement.

Evangeline Banao Vallejos was “speechless but calmly resigned”, her lawyer, Mark Daly said.

“While we respect the judgment we disagree with it,” Mark Daly said.

“[The ruling is] not a good reflection of the values we should be teaching youngsters and people in our society.”

Evangeline Banao Vallejos had filed the appeal jointly with Daniel Domingo, another Filipino domestic helper, who had lived in Hong Kong for 28 years.

The issue of right of abode is a sensitive subject in Hong Kong, with campaigners arguing that not allowing foreign domestic workers to settle in Hong Kong amounts to discrimination.

Eman Villanueva, spokesman for the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, said that the ruling “gave its judicial seal to unfair treatment and the social exclusion of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong”.

An initial ruling from the High Court in 2011 said that domestic workers should not be excluded from a rule that allows foreigners to settle in the city after seven years of uninterrupted residency.

Foreigners in other jobs can apply for permanent residency after seven years, which enables them to work and vote in Hong Kong without a visa.

The 2011 ruling led to protests in Hong Kong, with some anxious that allowing the maids to apply for residency would lead to an influx of domestic workers and place a strain on public services.

In March 2012, the government won an appeal against the High Court ruling.

The government had estimated that 125,000 helpers would be eligible to apply for abode, and if each had a spouse and two children, that number of potential new residents could reach 500,000 – although campaigners said that only a fraction of those eligible were likely to apply.

Monday’s judgement by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal puts an end to the two year legal battle.

Hong Kong’s domestic workers receive a guaranteed minimum wage, statutory holidays and annual paid leave.

But their lack of residency rights means that if they leave an employer, they have only two weeks to find a new job before being required to leave the country.

In Monday’s ruling, the top court also
rejected a request from the Hong Kong government to seek advice from the Chinese government on the matter. It said that the court was able to reach the ruling through reading Hong Kong’s Basic Law alone.

Seeking a legal interpretation from Beijing could potentially have sparked public criticism that the Hong Kong government was undermining its judicial independence.

Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give the region a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover.

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Six crew members have been arrested after two boats that collided in the waters off Hong Kong on Monday night leaving 37 people dead.

“Police arrested six individuals this afternoon. They are being investigated for endangering people’s lives at sea,” Security Minister Lai Tung-kwok said.

One of the boats was carrying more than 120 people to a fireworks display when it half-sank following the collision near Lamma Island.

The search for survivors is continuing.

The crash happened about 20:30 local time on Monday.

Dozens of people were thrown into the waters as the pleasure boat sank within minutes of impact. The ferry was able to reach Lamma and disembark its passengers as it was taking on water.

The government has confirmed that 37 people died – 32 adults and five children. More than 100 people were injured. The number of people missing is unknown.

Police have arrested three crew members from each of the vessels involved in the accident, the security minister told a news conference.

The head of police, Tsang Wai-hung, said the suspects were responsible for operating the boats.

“From the investigation so far we suspect that the crew responsible for manning the two vessels had not exercised the care required of them by law to ensure the safety of the vessels as well as the people on board.

“We expect further persons to be arrested… The investigation will focus on criminal liability,” he said.

The crash is one of Hong Kong’s worst maritime accident in decades. It occurred during a busy period for passenger travel, at the end of a long holiday weekend to mark the mid-autumn festival that this year coincided with China’s National Day on 1 October.

Power company Hong Kong Electric confirmed that it owned the boat which sank. It was taking staff and family members to watch National Day fireworks in Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung dismissed concerns it would damage Hong Kong’s reputation as a centre of global maritime trade.

“This is definitely an isolated incident. The marine territory of Hong Kong is safe,” he said.

He said an independent committee would be set up to look into the causes of the crash, and suggest measures to prevent similar tragedies in future.

He declared three days of mourning starting from Thursday, and expressed his sympathies with the victims’ families.

Lamma lies some 3 km (two miles) south-west of Hong Kong island, and is popular with tourists and expatriates.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels, but its ferries have a good safety record.

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Australian police have seized drugs worth over $500 million dollars and broken up a Hong Kong-based drugs ring.

Four Hong Kong nationals and three Australian residents were also arrested in raids in Sydney on Monday.

Over half a ton of drugs, including 306 kg (674.61 lb) of crystal methamphetamine – also known as ”ice” – and 252 kg of heroin, were seized.

The haul is the largest seizure of ”ice” and the third largest seizure of heroin, police said.

Australian police have seized drugs worth over $500 million dollars and broken up a Hong Kong-based drugs ring

Australian police have seized drugs worth over $500 million dollars and broken up a Hong Kong-based drugs ring

The drugs are estimated to be worth A$500 million (US$526 million), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

The raids and arrests followed a year-long investigation.

“Countless lives would have been affected had this seizure made its way to Australian streets,” Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told Australian media.

He said investigations would continue and more arrests could take place.

The investigations into the syndicate began in August 2011 after a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, police said. The drugs were found in a shipment of terracotta pots on 19 July.

The suspects will face charges for importing and possessing drugs in a Sydney court.

 

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Rare pink diamond Martian Pink is expected to fetch at least $8 million when it goes under the hammer in Hong Kong.

The Martian Pink diamond is about 12 carats in size. Pink diamonds as large as this are extremely rare.

The gem was named by famed American jeweller Ronald Winston in 1976, the same year the US sent a satellite to Mars.

The most famous pink diamond in the world belongs to Queen Elizabeth II.

Rare pink diamond Martian Pink is expected to fetch at least $8 million when it goes under the hammer in Hong Kong

Rare pink diamond Martian Pink is expected to fetch at least $8 million when it goes under the hammer in Hong Kong

The Williamson Pink was given to Queen Elizabeth II for her wedding in 1947 – the cut, 23.6-carat round stone was later set in a brooch.

The Martian Pink is estimated to be worth $8-12 million, says Christie’s auction house.

It is the largest round fancy intense pink diamond to ever go under the hammer, says Christie’s.

 

CY Leung is the newly elected leader of Hong Kong after an unusually turbulent campaign.

Self-made businessman CY Leung, 57, was elected by a committee of 1,200 business leaders and other influential citizens, mostly loyal to Beijing.

The Chinese government switched its support to CY Leung late in the campaign after a string of scandals rocked early frontrunner Henry Tang.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters gathered outside the convention centre where the vote took place.

The tumultuous campaign has fuelled calls by pro-democracy activists for Hong Kong’s 7.1 million residents to be able to directly elect their own leader, something China has promised will happen in 2017.

CY Leung was declared Hong Kong’s new chief executive after securing 689 votes. With most of the votes counted, Henry Tang had 285 and pro-democracy candidate Albert Ho 76, election officials said.

CY Leung is the newly elected leader of Hong Kong after an unusually turbulent campaign

CY Leung is the newly elected leader of Hong Kong after an unusually turbulent campaign

Before the vote, CY Leung had told reporters he would work hard to “get rid of people’s negative perception about this election”.

The son of a policeman, he had originally been seen as having only an outside chance of securing the leadership.

But Beijing’s early choice, Henry Tang, was wounded by a series of gaffes and scandals. The heir to a textile fortune confessed to cheating on his wife and building an illegal underground basement, which was reported to have housed an entertainment suite, jacuzzi and wine cellar.

Albert Ho’s outspoken pro-democracy stance meant he was widely seen as being unacceptable to Beijing.

CY Leung will replace Donald Tsang, who served two terms and could not run for the post again.

Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, has been enjoying high degree of autonomy from Beijing.

But Communist leaders in Beijing have resisted public pressure for full democracy in Hong Kong.