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    Executive Producer:Diana Wan


    The People’s Republic of China is a self-declared atheist state. During the Cultural Revolution, religious figures and symbols were condemned, vandalised and destroyed. Organised religion has been viewed as a threat to state power. Recently, Christian churches have been destroyed and crosses taken down, and at the recent Party congress, religion was once again declared an enemy of Communism. Yet the Vatican and China seem to be coming to a rapprochement, but at what cost? On Friday, Cardinal Zen, the most senior and outspoken opponent of this rapprochement, spoke to a number of reporters.

    Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin who said: “Education is a weapon whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Is this relevant to the situation in Hong Kong? Well many people believe that since the Handover, the government has been on a mission to use the local education system to inculcate so-called patriotic and motherland-loving views. Language has become one of the battlegrounds. Last month, a group of around 30 Hong Kong students entered the Baptist University’s Language Centre and embarked on a standoff that lasted eight hours. They were protesting about the university’s requirement that students have to either pass a newly-introduced Putonghua exemption test or take a Putonghua course to graduate. 70% of those who sat the recent tests have failed. Students say the test went beyond “basic communication skills” and wasn’t what the school promised when discussion started two years ago. As a result of the protest, two students were suspended and charged with “behavioural misconduct”. The suspension was lifted after the students made “sincere personal apologies”, although disciplinary proceedings are going ahead.

    On Tuesday night, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Hualien in Taiwan. The city is not only home to about 100,000 people but is also a popular tourist hub. As of our recording time, the official death toll stood at ten, with at least 67 people still missing. We’ll leave you with images of the rescue operation. See you next week.

    Contact: wanyt@rthk.hk


    • Scrapping of the Mong Kok Pedestrian Zone, difficulties stay-at-home mothers face in HK

      Scrapping of the Mong Kok Pedestrian Zone, difficulties stay-at-home mothers face in HK

      Hong Kong’s busking scene is growing. But not all busking is music to the ears, especially in packed places like the Mong Kok pedestrian zone. On Thursday the Yau Tsim Mong District Council put a vote to end the car-free zone. With us in the studio are Clarisse Yeung, Wan Chai district councillor and member of the Hong Kong Culture Monitor and Carine Lai Senior Researcher of Civic Exchange to talk about this issue.

      It’s not an easy job being a mother, some have to combine parenting with paid employment others look after children full time. There’s little chance to clock off, at least not until the kids become more independent. For some, motherhood can be a lifetime career, and one without pensions or safeguards for old age. According to a recent United States’ study the work of a mother and home-maker is the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs, with a 14-hour working day seven days in a week.

      On Sunday, despite strong objections from conservation groups, tree specialists and lawmakers, the government cut down two 80-year-old “stone wall” banyan trees on Bonham Road. The Lands Department’s report said that the trees had cavities, signs of decay and fungal infection and were in immediate risk of collapsing. But the proof, in this case, was in the cutting. Tree experts found that the two trees were in fact in good shape and could have been saved by strengthening the wall. If we’re also not cut down we’ll see you next week. Goodbye.

    • National funding available for HK hi-tech industries: interview with Nicolas Yang, Sec. for Innovation & Technology

      National funding available for HK hi-tech industries: interview with Nicolas Yang, Sec. for Innovation & Technology

      Hello and welcome to The Pulse. The science and technology gap between the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, is narrowing.
      Recent studies show that China is catching up to the U.S. in developing artificial intelligence or AI, big data, intellectual property, computing, and in space and military technologies. Last year, China’s total spending on research and development is estimated to have hit 1.76 trillion yuan, around 2.1% of its gross domestic product. The aim is to make the country a major power in technological innovation, by 2050. And – apparently - Hong Kong’s hi-tech industries have a part to play. Joining me now is Nicolas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology to talk more about it.

      Journalists working in mainland China encounter all sorts of challenges. In the past week alone, reporters from two local media organisations were roughed up in Sichuan and Beijing. Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she feels sorry that such an incident happened to media workers but then qualified that by adding “each village has its own rules, whether it is reporters or government officials, we all need to abide by local laws”. Nice to know your leaders have your back. Goodbye.

    • Karl Marx 200th birthday: discussion with Tim Summers & consultation on drones

      Karl Marx 200th birthday: discussion with Tim Summers & consultation on drones

      Last Saturday, 5th May, was the 200th anniversary of the birth of the German philosopher Karl Marx whose writings paved the way for the development of Communism. Over the past week, some commentators have praised his work as accurately predicting the state of modern capitalism. Others have focused on the evils perpetuated by totalitarian states using his name. In his birthplace in the German town of Trier, celebrations included the unveiling of a controversial gift from China and there were protests. With us in the studio is Tim Summers from the Centre for China Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

      Small drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles”, are booming in the People’s Republic of China, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer drones.
      They’re finding uses in areas including agriculture, mining, goods delivery, and cinematography. And we’re going to see a lot more of drones with the market estimated to be worth $9 billion US dollars by 2020. Here in Hong Kong, the interests of drone hobbyists and businesses can conflict with an environment that’s mostly urban, vertical, and crowded. The Civil Aviation Department is currently conducting a three-month consultation exercise on regulation of drone use.

      Ten years ago, on 12th May, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan, killing at least 69,000 people, including thousands of children in shoddily-built schools. Some 4.8 million people lost their homes. We’ll leave you with images of Sichuan then and today. See you next week. Goodbye.

    • End-of-Life care in Hong Kong

      End-of-Life care in Hong Kong

      First the good news. Hongkongers have one of the world’s longest life expectancies. Now the not so good news. Hong Kong also has a low birth rate and an ageing population. More than a third of the population is already past retirement age moreover their number is projected to double in the next two decades. Long life however also involves low living standards and poor health. One in three older people live below the poverty line, and the government is simply not providing adequate care and services for their needs. On top of all this is the final frontier: a deep-rooted cultural taboo over talking frankly about dying.

      In part one we looked at how there just aren’t enough hospice or palliative care facilities in the medical system, and we saw that the public is largely ignorant of the availability of these facilities. Those caring for the terminally ill or very old people are subject to a great deal of mental pressure that in turn affects their well-being. Once people tended to die at home. Now 90% of Hongkongers will expire in medical institutions surrounded by medical technology. Among the reasons are the high cost of in-home palliative care and barriers such as legal issues.

      On Monday, two coordinated double suicide bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan killed 36 people and injured another 45. Among them were nine journalists. On the same day, in a separate incident, a BBC reporter was shot dead in the eastern province of Khost. Reporters Without Borders said the attack was the worst of its kind against Afghan journalists “since the fall of the Taliban government in December 2001.”
      We’ll end on that sombre note. Goodbye.

    • Democratic Party member Ted Hui's phone incident & discussion with Wu Chi-wai, Paul Tse & Holden Chow

      Democratic Party member Ted Hui's phone incident & discussion with Wu Chi-wai, Paul Tse & Holden Chow

      For those not familiar with how things are done in the Legco complex, the so-called “Ted Hui Phone Incident” that happened on Tuesday may seem somewhat bizarre.
      Democratic Party lawmaker Mr Hui snatched a mobile phone from a female civil servant and took it to the men’s toilet to examine its contents. He later said he had done so to protect the privacy of lawmakers. With me to talk about the matter are Chairman of the Democratic Party, Wu Chi-wai, Legco’s Committee on Rules of Procedure, Paul Tse and Holden Chow of the DAB.

      On Friday in a historic summit, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in the demilitarised zone between the two countries, the first North Korean leader to cross the border since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The summit’s expected to include discussion of suspending Pyongyang’s nuclear arms development, peace talks, and a series of economic and social issues. We’ll leave you with images of that significant meeting. Goodbye.

    • James Tien on national security law & land battles

      James Tien on national security law & land battles

      Three years ago China passed a national security law and designated 15th April as National Security Education Day. Mainland law does not apply in Hong Kong but last Sunday, the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute organised a high-profile symposium to mark this day. Speakers took it as an opportunity to attack law academic Benny Tai’s s remarks on independence at a seminar in Taiwan last month, and to put extra pressure on the SAR to enact its own national security law. With me in the studio is the former leader of the Liberal Party, James Tien. I should add that we also asked a number of individuals who have supported introducing a National Security Law to talk to us, but they declined.

      Within ten days in March, there were three suspicious fires at the Nam Sang Wai wetlands, affecting more than 12 hectares of land. Less than a month later, there was a fourth. This one damaged a small ferry pier and a boat. Police and fire fighters say the fires are suspicious. The wetland has been in the sights of developers for some time.
      Among the reasons for the suspicion about these fires is the fact that reducing the ecological value of areas makes it easier to get permission for development. This is what’s known as the strategy of “destroy first, build later”.

      Well, that’s it from us for this week. We’ll end with footage of this week’s visit to Hong by retired Chinese official, Qiao Xiaoyang to speak at a seminar on the Basic Law.
      This is the second seminar of this kind within a week, and you may be thrilled to learn that there are probably many more to come. In part this is because the government has poured almost HK$24 million, 30% more than last year, into training civil servants to understand the correct nationalist perspective.
      Correct, of course, is what we do at The Pulse so we’ll correctly see you next week.

    • Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Maco Bridge's artificial island controversy: discussion with Albert Lai & Raymond Chan

      Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Maco Bridge's artificial island controversy: discussion with Albert Lai & Raymond Chan

      Taxpayers are paying something like HK$200 billion for Hong Kong’s contribution to two controversial infrastructure projects, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge and the Express Rail Link. Concerns have been raised about both projects and the degree to which Hong Kong has relinquished control over aspects of their construction and operation. On Tuesday last week, the last carriage of an Express Rail train was derailed during testing. Two days later, news media revealed aerial images of an artificial island that’s included in the bridge project. This appeared to show that part of it was drifting away. With me in the studio are Albert Lai of the Professional Commons & Raymond Chan, former Head of the Geotechnical Engineering Office.

      Talking of things that are complicated brings us to the grilling given to Facebook founder and chairman Mark Zuckerberg by US legislators this week. Top of their agenda were questions over Facebook’s collaboration with Cambridge Analytica which harvested the data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users and used the results for political campaigns. Some people thought that Zuckerberg dodged tough questions others were struck by the level of ignorance among lawmakers about how the internet works. Zuckerberg was asked at one point whether he was willing to reveal which hotel he was staying at while in Washington DC. He was not. The point being that information of this kind can easily be obtained from unwary Facebook users. Meanwhile we’ll see you next week, possibly by means of Facebook - hum.

    • Interview with Ireland Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney & Foreign investment in China

      Interview with Ireland Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney & Foreign investment in China

      Local government elections are set to take place in England on 3rd May. 150 council seats are up for grabs. It’s the first nationwide election since Prime Minister Teresa May’s ill-advised attempt to strengthen her party’s position to negotiate Brexit by calling a snap general election. As then, these local elections will be seen as reflecting public opinion on Brexit. The UK is slated to depart the European Union on the 30th of March next year, but much remains to be agreed, including what will happen to the 300-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Last month, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, came to Hong Kong. He’s also the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with special responsibilities for Brexit. We spoke to him during his visit here.

      A trade war between the United States and China seems to be heating up. On Tuesday, the US published a list of 1,300 Chinese products to be targeted for a 25% tariff. Beijing retaliated by announcing tariffs on 106 US products. Two days late Donald Trump, as is his way, decided to retaliate against the retaliation. Apparently another US$100 billion in tariffs is now under consideration. The PRC is America’s third largest export market for goods and, of course many other countries also have strong trading ties with China, but doing business in the mainland is far from easy. At the 19th Chinese Party Congress last October, and again at the two meetings last month, Xi Jinping said that the PRC plans to reduce some areas of restriction on market access for overseas companies. It’s hardly a secret that foreign companies face a number of obstacles when operating in the PRC, and are also having to cope with new policies such as the cyber security law, the crackdown on virtual private networks or VPNs, and tightening Party control, So, just how welcoming is China for overseas companies?

    • Private recreational clubs, discussion with Tanya Chan & Felix Chung & eSports

      Private recreational clubs, discussion with Tanya Chan & Felix Chung & eSports

      During this long Easter holiday some people will be getting out and about for a bit of fresh air. Others will be driving parents and teachers to distraction because they’re hunched over computer screens in combat with other online gamers. But don’t scoff. Professional computer gaming can pay better than entry level professional athletics. More on that in part two.

      But first to the homes of some more traditional sports played in environments less egalitarian and accessible than home computer games. Hong Kong currently has 27 private recreational clubs operating on often large areas of government land. Many pay little or no rent. Meanwhile plenty of Hong Kong residents have nowhere decent to live, and there are increasing questions about why so much land is reserved for the recreation of so few. With us in the studio are legislators Tanya Chan of the Civic Party and Felix Chung of the Liberal Party to talk about this issue.

      Parents, teachers, girlfriends and boyfriends of video gamers, take heart. What might seem to be an antisocial hobby can turn into a lucrative career.
      Electronic sports or eSports take video games to a professional level. Most are team-based and can involve competing in leagues and tournaments. They include battlefield games, card games, strategy games, or sports simulations. Electronic games as a professional spectator sport have become a multi-billion dollar business that’s now projected to bring in more revenue than some traditional pastimes.

      Well that’s it from us. We’ll leave you with images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s surprise two-day visit to Beijing this week where he met Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s been suggested that the trip to Beijing was a bit of a curveball ahead of Donald Trump’s planned but still unscheduled meeting with Kim.
      We however are scheduled to be back next week. So, for now goodbye. And enjoy the break.

    • China's

      China's "Two Sessions": discussion with Lee Cheuk-yan & Lawrence Ma & Foreign media in China

      On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping delivered his closing speech to the 16-day session of the National People’s Congress. Two big changes were endorsed at the “Two Sessions”. Term limits for the president and vice-president were deleted from the constitution and “Xi Jinping Thought” was written in. Xi also reshuffled the government and placed trusted aides in key positions. The party’s control is now stronger, as Xi reiterated in his closing speech: He said: “Government, the military, society and schools, north, south, east and west – the party leads them all.”

      Last December, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China conducted its annual survey of its members. 40% of respondents felt that conditions for reporting on the mainland had deteriorated. 73% said it was increasingly difficult to report in many areas outside the capital, particularly Xinjiang. Then there are concerns about surveillance, invasion of privacy, and even their home news organisations being pressurised by overseas Chinese officials. Some visas have been either cancelled or not-renewed for reasons related to reporting. More than half said they had experienced interference, harassment and physical violence … as well as potential interviewees being afraid to even talk to them. Yvonne Tong spoke to a group of foreign correspondents in Beijing during the recently concluded.