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By: Karmen LiEdited by: Jayde Cheung


Multimedia: Urumqi's vigil in Hong Kong

Demonstrators gathered in Central at around 7 pm to mourn the victims of a fire accident in Urumqi amid strict lockdown in mainland China. Mainlanders from provinces including Shanghai and cities like Guangzhou and Chengdu held blank sheets to protest against the COVID-19 measures, and chanted slogans to oust Chinese president Xi Jinping since last Saturday. After the ten mainland Chinese students mourned at the University of Hong Kong last Sunday, protestors in Central held blank papers and sent flowers to pay tribute to the ongoing protests in mainland China despite the police’s social distancing checks.  Youtube Link:  


Commemoration held in Central for victims of Urumqi's fire

More than 100 people in Central mourned the fatal Urumqi fire last Thursday, following the unprecedented backlash against the rigorous zero-COVID measures in mainland China. Participants held white papers to resemble the “A4 revolution” that went viral in the mainland, expressing their discontent with the censorship on state-controlled social media with a blank white paper, alongside chrysanthemums tied with white ribbons for commemoration.  “I need to support mainlanders who are speaking and fighting for their basic living rights,” said Ying who speaks on condition of anonymity. “The containment has gone too far that has affected the grassroots too much.”  At around 8:15 pm, activist Alexandra Wong Fung Yiu, known as Grandma Wong, fell on the ground when her yellow umbrella was grabbed by an unidentified man. She has been sent to hospital and the man has been arrested by the police. Last Thursday night, a fire broke out in a residential building in Urumqi, causing 10 deaths and 9 injuries. Chinese netizens said the victims in the building were unable to leave due to COVID-19 restrictions, while the entrance door was locked and firefighters were blocked by the barriers set for pandemic prevention when they wanted to enter the building. But it has been denied by the city officials in the press conference held on Nov 25, who said that residents could go outside but lacked safety knowledge and the parked vehicles had blocked firefighters' access to the burning building. “None of the unit doors was locked and all the blockade images circulating online are fake news,” the spokesman said at the press conference. Snap lockdowns perpetuated in China, sparks anger across the country.  As of yesterday, protests erupted across 51 universities in China including Tsinghua University and the Communication University of China, Nanjing, according to Hong Kong media Ming …


New LeaveHomeSafe arrangement disturb residential students

More than 20 students queue up at the residential halls after Hong Kong Baptist University requires the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app, while lifting all other registration requirements and to set foot in the school.   Starting from Oct 8, students and staff need to scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code before entering the university, according to the school's internal email delivered last Monday.  The new arrangement replaced the identity verification and health declaration that was used since the start of the pandemic. Vaccination requirement is lifted to attend face-to-face lessons, despite special premises including sport facilities and restaurants. The undergraduate housings firstly started the LeaveHomeSafe system last Friday, together with the existing identity verification system. Only blue code holders are permitted to the hall. “Last time I spent around 15 minutes to get in and then waiting for the elevator for an even longer time,” said Yernar Baltabay, a hall resident. “ People are forced to huddle together.”  The undergraduate halls offer 1,770 residences for full-time students. Residents have to record their entrance to the hall by scanning the LeaveHomeSafe QR code, and scan the vaccine pass by a mobile phone app at an appropriate distance and angle. The mobile phone cannot detect vaccine passes sometimes, according to Freya Chan, a hall resident. “Usually you will spend a long time getting the machine to read your QR code. If you move slowly, the queue will start behind you. That is extremely embarrassing,” she said. If the scanning does not work, students need to show their vaccine records to security guards in the hall for confirmation. “We are willing to better serve students using this system, but we now spend more time and energy checking the Vaccine Pass in person, because the machine is not working well,” said the security guard Chan Chung, who …


A Tale of Two Hotels: Food quality varies wildly between Hong Kong’s budget and luxury quarantine hotels

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tracy LeungEdited by: AMALVY Esten Carr Claude Ole Eriksen
  • 2022-07-29

Hong Kong’s government-designated quarantine hotels are required to provide three meals a day to guests. But many staying in the least expensive hotels have been horrified by what they are served, while those that can afford it, order delivery or stay in more expensive hotels, often double or triple the price. “Can’t believe this is called a hotel. Motels overseas are much better than this, even Airbnb. The food tastes bad and there is even no chair for eating. I feel helpless,” said Fanny Chan, a guest at the Ramada Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Sai Ying Pun on quarantine day 16. Ms Chan said she paid HK$12,390 for 21 nights. Ms Chan reported that after a week, she had developed an allergic skin reaction due to the dirty state of the room and poor quality of the food she was offered. The hotel did not provide any help for her, she said.  The Ramada hotel has yet to comment. “Healthy food includes grains, dairy such as milk and soya milk, vegetables, fruit and meat or alternatives like nuts and canned fish,” Director of the Hong Kong Community Dietitian Association, Bonnie Leung said. “It is highly recommended for people with special needs to notify hotels about their history of allergy when they first move in,” Ms Leung said. Nicholas White and Edith White stayed at the Sheraton Hong Kong & Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui in September for 21 nights. They paid HK$36,330 for a room with a city view, nearly double the cost of Ms Chan’s room. “We were fully aware of how difficult a 21-day quarantine stay would be so prepared to pay a bit more for a decent sized room with reasonably good food,”  said Mr White.  “Frankly speaking, most dishes are not bad compared to …


Sunset traditional culture: Hong Kong’s last homemade “Yuk Bing Siu” liquor store, Kwong Yu Yee Winery

Tucked away in a tenement building on Pei Ho Street in the Sham Shui Po District is a time-honoured winery store, Kwong Yu Yee. While the simple façade looks no different from the other stores in the neighbourhood, the intoxicating aroma of rice wine from within draws visitors to stop by every time. The winery moved from Guangzhou to Hong Kong more than 70 years ago. The old shopfront originally had two stories. After being demolished in the 1960s, it was rebuilt into a six-story tenement building on the original site. The golden lacquer signboard which reads “New Kwong Yu Yee” and the wooden beamed ceiling, together with the paint-peeled floor have been well-retained. 65-year-old Wong, who claims to be very low-key and would not give away his full name to anyone, is the second generation of the shop owner. “My father was the owner and I started to run it more than 40 years ago when it was in its golden age,” he said. Wong recalled during that time, there were four restaurants nearby and his shop wholesaled wine to them. “Back then, they had to register to buy our wine,” Wong said, “And let’s say if you tie your shoelaces in front of our door, the whole street would be blocked by our customers soon.” “There’s no restaurant now,” he said, “It’s really hard for us to do business now.” Wong said that nearly 60% of the shop's business nowadays comes from neighbourhoods. “Our regular customers contribute to our business most now, but the epidemic situation is putting us in a tricky situation since every customer is being more sensitive and concerning more about the price," Wong said, "But it seems to be better now." In addition to the foreign wine wholesale business, the winery also sells the …

Health & Environment

Online fitness in China soars

  • By: Kate ZhangEdited by: Kate Zhang
  • 2022-07-27

"Goodbye fat, hello muscles! Say it out loud with me!" Liu Genghong gives instructions to Li Yuxi, a 25-year-old bank clerk in Shanghai, as she does aerobics to the beat of the music on her phone. Every day, Li opens Douyin, a Chinese short video platform, to follow Liu, her star personal trainer, to exercise at home. Liu is a Taiwanese singer, actor and personal fitness trainer, but his experience in show business has not made him famous. Now, he has attracted viewers from all over the country with his live broadcasts on social media. After Shanghai was locked down due to Covid in March, Liu, 49, and his wife Vivi Wang, Miss Universe Taiwan in 1999, live-streamed fitness five times a week for a 90-minute session each time. The couple taught the audience to do aerobics to the fast-paced tunes of pop star Jay Chou, and one of his most-watched fitness routines were set to Herbalist Manual from Chou's album. Most of the movements are simple, including Liu’s signature shuttlecock movement, which mimics the action of kicking a shuttlecock, a traditional Chinese folk game called jianzi. Liu's fitness classes have been so popular that they have broken Douyin's live streaming record so far in 2022, according to data analytics platform Chanmama. His live broadcast has accumulated over 100 million viewers within 30 days, with a maximum of 44.76 million viewers for a single live broadcast. Liu's Douyin account grew by more than 50 million followers in April. By July 19, he had amassed 73.2 million followers and got more than 120 million likes. "I worked out every day with Coach Liu, and after a few weeks of dancing, I saw the changes in my body," Li said. "I lost three kilograms of weight, while I became very relaxed after …


Hong Kong's health care system under stress during the fifth wave of Covid-19

Wong Sze-kai, 30, is a frontline doctor at the Accident and Emergency Department. He feels that some of his patients are "waiting to die". “They were lying on the ground. No meals, no medicine, and no one can help them change their diapers. It’s a living hell,” he said.  As the number of older and critically ill Covid-19 patients continues to mount, Hong Kong’s public hospitals, especially their Accidents and Emergency Departments, are under intense pressure.  Hundreds of  infected elderly people in need of treatment and oxygen had no alternative but to stay in the A&E wards, in corridors, or in lobbies because there was no space in the general wards. “I've heard a few junior nurses cry, not for themselves, but because of the pitiful sight of the patients,” Wong said. As of March 27, nine of the city’s 16 public hospitals reached full occupancy, according to the Hospital Authority’s figures. Wong said the very purpose of creating the Hospital Authority 30 years ago was to tackle the same problems of overloading capacity in hospitals with long waiting times that have been faced year after year. But the problem still exists even before Covid hit the city. Sunny Ho, 22, is a nurse from the Specialist Outpatient Department at Queen Mary Hospital, one of the 10 public hospitals that have been stretched to the limits during the outbreak of the fifth wave of Covid. “The guidelines are constantly changing. The government imposed too many unnecessary preventive measures, adding to the burden on the medical staff. For example, as soon as there was a case, they immediately closed the lift and the overpass and did a lot of contact tracing,” Ho said. “But now the outbreak is a mess. There is not enough manpower and resources to follow the previous …


Cornering caregivers at home puts them under intense pandemic stress

Debby Kwan Ho-kwan, 27, has been suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus for 10 years and stiff person syndrome for three years. Lupus is a form of immune system disorder that requires life-long medication and treatment, and stiff person syndrome leads to progressive muscle stiffness. Although Kwan can manage her own medical treatments like anticoagulant injection, her mother worries about a relapse of SLE. She frets over whether to seek hospitalisation if that happens, which may expose her daughter to COVID-19. The pressure builds when Kwan’s mother tries to understand new policies and chart new solutions almost every day.  “Sometimes, my mum suffers from insomnia. She has to take medication under such mental pressure,” said Kwan.  Since the start of the pandemic, caregivers like Kwan’s mother often prioritise the elderly, children and chronically ill patients over themselves. The restriction of face-to-face contacts during COVID-19 poses challenges to patient rehabilitation. Their caregivers often have to extend their working hours and more preparation work is required. “Many caregivers cannot withstand the pressure-cooker-like environment anymore,” said Zoe Chong Suk-yi, a dementia care planner working at Renascence Integrated Rehabilitation Centre. Chong and Alvin Shum Chun-kit have devoted their support to dementia patients and their caregivers throughout the pandemic.  Since the fifth wave of Covid outbreak, they have suspended on-site visits. Instead, they prepare extra cognitive training tools for home-training and help carers overcome technical issues when they engage with dementia sufferers during online training sessions because the patients often have a short attention span.  Dementia patients need a regular rehabilitation schedule in order to maintain their brain functions. They need constant cognitive therapy and practice, otherwise their conditions will deteriorate quickly, Chong explained.  “A number of them seemed to be more sluggish than before,” she said.  Before the fifth wave of pandemic struck Hong Kong, …


Blind saxophonist in China’s national disabled performing troupe speaks on success and overcoming challenges

“One more time. Don’t make the audience feel your actions are too stiff, ” the director of the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing said to Wang Qi as he practiced walking and turning on the stage.  “Try to reduce the sense of performance,” the director said. Wang was practicing raising his hands to display the emblem of the winter Paralympic Games to the world at the opening ceremony on March 4.  “I had to practice once and once again to form muscle memory,” he said. “We have been rehearsing intensively since January.” Wang, 40, a leading saxophonist in China, has been performing in the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe for more than a decade. His performance has been seen at many historic moments of China including APEC Summit and Shanghai Expo 2011.  Wang, who wears his hair long and is always in sunglasses, has been blind for almost 30 years. “For visually-abled people, it's natural to go to the center of the stage and then turn around and face the audience. But because we blind people can't see, we don't know which position to go on the stage, and we don't know how much to turn around is appropriate, ” he said. “But if we practice too much without correct guidance, our movements will be too deliberate.” In 1995, when Wang was 15 and had been blind for two years, one teacher at the special education school in his hometown Dalian led a group of students to a room full of musical instruments, where Wang befriended the saxophone. “I was standing in the big room, trying to recall those instruments I saw before losing my sight,” he said. “Suddenly, the saxophone jumped into my mind. I walked ahead and held it in my arms.”  …


SF Intra-City’s shares plunge as the company lose more last year

Share price of Hangzhou SF Intra-city company (9699.HK) slumped 5% to HK$ 7.03 today, after the company announced its net loss for 2021 expanded to 899 million yuan, as shown in the annual report released yesterday. The largest third-party on-demand delivery service provider in China saw a high open of HK$ 7.70 this morning , up 4.05% from the previous close, but the price went down afterwards to as low as HK$ 6.96. The company reported a net loss of 899 million yuan for the year 2021, versus 758 million yuan in 2020, it said in the result. The company achieved revenue of 8.174 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 68.77% and its gross profit and gross profit margin have recorded positive numbers for the first time, at 94.809 million yuan and 1.2% respectively, as of December 31, 2021. SF Intra-City was officially listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on December 14 last year. However, it sank on the first day and closed at HK$14.9 per share on the same day, down 9.26% from the offering price, with a total market value of HK$13.91 billion. In the past five years, the instant delivery industry has ushered in a period of rapid growth, and the overall size of orders in the industry was 27.9 billion last year, said the report from iresearch.  SF Intra-City has become the largest third-party on-demand delivery service platform in China, with a steady market share of over 11%, capturing the emerging business opportunity of the instant delivery service according to its press release yesterday. Zeng Hailin, CFO of the company, said in today’s phone conference that he is confident that the company's gross profit margin will continue to improve and the expense ratio will further decline, and will strive to achieve breakeven as soon as …