- Agenda Setting of PM2.5 in China
Days of serious haze in Beijing (and Shanghai) in October 2011 which disrupted normal road and airport operations brought a long-harboured grudge that residents had toward their municipal government to the surface. Beijing residents doubted the government had done enough to improve air quality, since and despite the city having won the bid, perhaps ironically, to host the 2008 Olympics. Their doubts were confirmed when readings from an air quality monitoring device installed on top of the US Embassy and those published by the municipal government’s environmental protection bureau did not coincide. Residents’ eventual learning that the former included PM2.5 readings and the latter not stoked up the flames. Netizens took to the popular microblogging platform Weibo to vent out their anger and to raise awareness; well-known figures in China became opinion leaders overnight. The awareness of the importance of monitoring PM2.5 spread nationwide. After weeks of intense debates and discussions on social media and mounting pressure, the Beijing government decided to take more decisive steps to address public concerns, including transparency regarding PM2.5 levels in the Ambient Air Quality Index.
The teaching case aims at:
- To provide students (and readers) the intellectual tools – concepts and frameworks related to agenda-setting – to discuss, argue or explain how the PM2.5 issue reached the government agenda
- To enable students (and readers) to acquire a basic understanding of the role of issue framing in making an issue reach the government agenda
- Towards Food Security & Sustainability: Urban Farming
The importance of urban farming as one of the solutions to food insecurity and sustainability issues has in recent years been increasingly recognized in many places. Urban farming has a diversity of forms and benefits. Already many social enterprises in Hong Kong have embarked on innovative forms of urban farming projects, often made possible with the collaboration of private sector organizations, because of difficult challenges not least the cost, lack of space, stringent regulatory requirements, and lengthy approval procedures. Collaboration among various stakeholder groups and individuals has continued to take urban farming to the next level of development by exploring other areas in the city for urban farming and other innovative forms. This requires going beyond the current policy support to enhance the contribution of urban farming to food security and sustainability in Hong Kong. The case study invites readers to reflect on the constraints to the development of urban farming in Hong Kong and the good practices that can be learned elsewhere to address these challenges.
The teaching case aims to:
- To provide a basic knowledge of the concept and benefits of urban farming, as well as some examples of the practice in some places
- To provide a basic understanding of the current practice and regulatory framework for urban farming in Hong Kong
- To provide a platform for students (and readers) to discuss and/or explore ways to enhance urban farming development as an important means to promote food security and sustainability in Hong Kong
- The Price of Blue Sky Program in North China
Becoming aware of the urgent need to tackle the increasingly poor air quality conditions in the country, the Chinese government embarked on an ambitious coal-to-gas program in 2013. The program involved, among other things, replacing residential coal-fired stoves with gas furnaces and laying gas pipelines. The program demanded a significant increase in natural gas imports from suppliers in neighboring countries because China had a limited technical capacity to harvest its natural gas reserves. “2+26” cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region were selected for the pilot program. With high targets and tight deadlines, the tasks which local governments were expected to carry out were daunting. The Chinese government typically uses the “target responsibility system” to implement environmental programs and to ensure targets are achieved. Despite good intentions, miscalculations and flaws in either planning or implementation led to unintended consequences. The worst hit were rural villagers in North China who were left without heating during the cold winter season of 2017.
The teaching case aims to
• To enable students to acquire a basic understanding of the coal-to-gas program implemented in China, as part of the effort to improve air quality in the country
• To familiarize students with the basic features of the target responsibility system, an implementation strategy for environmental programs in China
• To provide students with a platform to discuss and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the target responsibility system, as well as the lessons to be learned from the experiences of implementing the coal-to-gas program
- DiDi and Personal Data Protection
A recent action by the Cybersecurity Administration of China to conduct a cybersecurity review into Chinese ride-hailing giant DiDi Chuxing raised concerns about possible misuse of personal data. Ride-hailing companies gather and constantly analyse huge volumes of data from riders, drivers and their business operations, making these firms de facto big data analytics companies. Various places have enacted privacy laws to regulate the collection and use of customers’ data by commercial and business enterprises. Car-hailing firms have adopted privacy policies to comply with the data protection rules in places where they have business operations. However, violations of privacy rules have become frequent, and the exposure of user data has led to growing concern in society. The case of DiDi provides an apt opportunity to discuss data privacy and security issues involving car-hailing companies and the adequacy of current protection regimes and mechanisms.
This teaching case aims to:
- Provide some basic knowledge of privacy rules and data protection policies adopted in various places and car-hailing companies
- Raise awareness of breaches and misuse of personal data of passengers and drivers by cybercriminals and employees of car-hailing companies
- Provide a platform to discuss possible loopholes in current protection regimes and practices and what innovative polices (or technologies) might enhance data protection.
- Cyberport: Hong Kong’s Business Park Or Residential Area?
Located in Southern District of Hong Kong, Cyberport is a huge infrastructure project comprising a digital technology industrial park, office buildings, a hotel, and an entertainment complex. In 1999, the government announced its plan to build Cyberport to help local businesses to capitalize on the rapid development of the Internet. It was meant to provide both local and international businesses an ecosystem for digital technologies such as FinTech, esports, AI, blockchain and cybersecurity. This was seen as an opportunity to diversify Hong Kong’ economic structure where finance and real estate dominate. Pacific Century Group (PCG) completed the project in 2004 and transferred the title completely to the government in exchange for an adjacent land for luxury housing development which was finished in 2008. However, almost two decades on, there is public scepticism as to whether the project has attained its original intention or it has turned mainly into a residential and commercial development.
This case provides students a basic knowledge of the controversies surrounding the Cyberport project. They are expected to reflect on the extent to which the Cyberport project has succeeded or failed by examining its current operations vis-à-vis original intent. They can also discuss how policymaking can be better carried out and/or what can be done going forward to improve the project’s effectiveness.
- Dilemmas in Social Restrictions and Isolation Policies Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading across the world since its first discovery in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020, countries across the world have implemented various control strategies and social distancing measures to slow the spread of this disease, and Hong Kong is no exception. Hong Kong is highly susceptible to disease outbreaks given its high population density and high infrastructural and social connectivity with mainland China. The government has been dealing COVID-19 with the implementation of social distancing and quarantine measures of varying strictness since the beginning of 2020. However, these restrictions have taken a toll on the psychological well-being of various groups such as medical professionals, vulnerable individuals, students, and the general public. This impact on mental health has generated significant debate if Hong Kong’s COVID-19 control measures are correctly calibrated. Infection management and containment strategies are unequivocally crucial in controlling the pandemic, but concerns about adverse psychological and neuropsychiatric effects of isolation and social distancing measures are also justified. Against this background, this case study examines the challenges of balancing the need for strict social distancing and quarantine restrictions for infection control against their adverse effects on psychological well-being. Students reading this case study are expected to draw on their own experiences, appreciate different perspectives both local and international, and explore how they would deal with the policy challenges discussed.
- The China-US Trade War
The full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies- the United States and China has been rumbling along for months. The US has accused China of its unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft in the technology industry while China, in turn, believes that the States is attempting to curb its ascent in the global economy. Consequently, the trade war is not only about imposing tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods but also exacting restrictions on technology flows and demanding intellectual property protection in China. Despite the on-going negotiations between two sides and a preliminary deal signed in January 2020, the trade war seems to have no end due to the unsolved thorniest issues. Uncertainties brought by the US-China tensions will continue to have impacts on businesses and weight on the global economy.
This case presents the events and causes that that led to the US-China trade war, as well as the impacts of the conflict on the global economy. Students are expected to reflect upon the policies implemented by both sides and consider what appropriate directions and strategies they should adopt to reach a compromise and manage the conflict.
- One Belt One Road Scholarships
The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative was announced in the year 2013 by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China with an aim to improve economic cooperation and connectivity across continents through strategic land and maritime routes in Asia, Africa, and Europe. This project associates multiple areas like infrastructural development projects, cultural and talent exchange, as well as cross-border investment and cooperation. It is set to reinvigorate the flow of capital, goods, and services along the Belt and Road countries to achieve mutual benefits and synergies. Following the announcements of OBOR, the Hong Kong government announced the launching of the ‘Belt and Road’ Scholarship Scheme in the 2016/17 academic year to fund local student exchanges in OBOR countries. Yet, it has caused heated debate ever since it was introduced. While the government believed this scheme could foster links and nurture talents, scepticism around whether this scholarship brings real benefits to Hong Kong arose. Lawmakers from both pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps questioned the effectiveness of this scheme, particularly the budget allocated for the project, citing tax payers’ negative reactions.
Not only can the class gain more information about B&R Scholarship Scheme within the context of the OBOR initiative, but learning from stakeholders’ criticisms and reactions students can also draw some lessons to avoid the potential failure of the scheme and, in general, of other OBOR-related projects.
- Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port
As part of the post-disaster economic recovery measure for Hambantota, a coastal town in Southern Sri Lanka, former President Magampura Mahinda Rajapaska decided to build the highly contentious Hambantota Port Development Project. The Rajapaksa pushed ahead with the project, despite the feasibility study concluding it was not economically viable. Although Sri Lanka is in a strategic location in the Indian Ocean, but there were already existing major navigation channels nearby. The Port was eventually built with loan financing from a Chinese bank and started operations in 2012. The following year, it became part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Not able to generate enough revenue to service the loan, the Sri Lankan government settled on a 99-year lease agreement with China in 2017. The agreement was also rumoured to include a Chinese naval base within the port. Many Sri Lankans protested arguing that it was a debt trap. Other foreign countries joined in accusing China of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ and hidden ambitions of military expansion.
The case mainly provides basic information about the origin, major stakeholders, and controversies surrounding the Hambantota Port. It can be used in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative in terms of the challenges met in these projects, and how problems, such as those experienced in the Hambantota Port project, can be addressed and/or prevented.
- China's Rare Earths and the China-US Trade War
The China-U.S. Trade War was sparked by the unilateral trade moves by the U.S. on 22 March 2018. To defend against China’s allegedly unfair trade practices, U.S. President Donald Trump invoked Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act to slap steep tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese products. China retaliated by imposing tariffs on US$110 billion worth of U.S. goods. As trade tensions escalated, there were mounting speculations that the Chinese government could weaponise its supply of rare-earth elements. China had the world’s largest reserves of rare-earth elements, which could be a source of leverage given that the U.S. had heavy dependence on them. Would the Chinese government use its control over rare-earths elements as a bargaining chip the trade war? If so, in what ways? Exactly how much leverage does China have? This case study will explore some answers to these questions.
Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
Environmental Policy and Sustainability
Social Changes and Policy
China’s Development Policy