Lai See

Tung Chee-hwa's faulty connection to the leadership

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 4:13am

We had always assumed that former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was pretty well plugged into what was going on in the upper echelons of the leadership in the mainland. But the recent changing of the guard and the new lin-up in Beijing would seem to indicate that is not actually the case.

Tung is a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation. The old boy told CNN in September that President Hu Jintao was likely to remain chairman of the Central Military Commission for a few years after the 18th national congress - much as Jiang Zemin did in 2002.

The feeling was that Tung wouldn't have made these remarks without some sort of tacit authorisation and without some confidence that he had his finger on the pulse of the senior leadership. However, it turns out he was completely wrong and Hu has stepped down from the commission. If Tung does have a connection to what the leadership is thinking it seems to have been faulty on this occasion.


The Best of British

Good to see such a high-level turnout yesterday to promote British Beef in Hong Kong. Yes we are talking about meat. There was Britain's Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, who had just flown in from Shanghai where he opened the largest food trade fair in China, the Food and Hotel China exhibition. We met the new British consul general in Hong Kong, Caroline Wilson, and were able to discuss the elative merits of grass fed over corn fed beef.

The big news that this event sought to promote was that most British beef cuts are effectively allowed back into Hong Kong. It was banned in Hong Kong following an outbreak of mad cow disease in 1996. In 2009 restrictions were lifted on boneless beef from cattle of all ages and earlier this year beef rib cuts and other bone-in products, except vertebral column cuts, from cattle less than 30 months old.

All of the beef experts on hand assured us that not only was British beef the best, but that Britain had undertaken an enormous clean-up of the industry and significantly enhanced controls. It can now, according to one of yesterday's experts, "trace the field in which the cow grazed in".

This was reassuring since we then tucked into an excellent rib of English beef. Britain produces about one million tonnes of beef a year and exports some 16 per cent of this. Paterson says the aim is to get British beef established in Hong Kong which will then lead to demand for it in the mainland.

Interestingly by far the biggest British "food" export to the region is whisky.


Poke in the eye for Citic

Citic Securities, which is in the process of taking over stockbroker CLSA, has had a poke in the eye from regulators in the mainland.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has sent Citic Securities a letter accusing it of providing dishonest disclosure in relation to an offering by Bros Eastern that it sponsored, the magazine FinanceAsia reports.

Two months after launching its two billion yuan (HK$2.47 billion) lisiting in June, the company reported that net income fell 96 per cent in the third quarter to six million yuan.

Unsurprisingly there was no warning of this scenario in the prospectus. Investors, disenchanted by this unexpected turn of events have dumped the stock. It has fallen 43 per cent from its IPO price of 13.60 yuan to 7.75 yuan.

The CSRC's letter said Citic and its representatives had "failed to exercise honesty and integrity" in managing Bros Eastern's IPO. The commission will also suspend processing requests from two bankers involved in the deal for three months.


Macau airport affairs

Macau's airport is due to hit new highs this year with revenue of 3.4 billion patacas. This represents a year-on-year growth of 13.3 per cent. Much of the increase has come from the additional 1,158 square metres of retail area.

Deng Jun, chairman of the Macau International Airport, said it was important to further develop "non-aeronautical activities at the airport". In Macau, this could cover quite a range of activities.


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to