Asia Underperforms on Wednesday as Hong Kong Seeks to Revive Momentum by Cutting Some Real Estate Taxes Amid a Major Crisis.

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Meanwhile, a Creditor Files for Liquidation of Country Garden, One of China’s Leading Real Estate Groups

Asia trended downward on Wednesday, February 28th, particularly the Chinese stock markets. At 7:40 AM Italian time, the Nikkei was below parity, the Hang Seng lost 1.2%, Shanghai was down 0.8%, while the U.S. ten-year T-bond was sideways at 4.28%, and Nasdaq futures were in the red by 0.2%.

Hong Kong Announces Easing Measures for the Real Estate Market
Hong Kong has announced measures to boost the territory’s economy and the weak real estate market amid high-interest rates and an economic slowdown in China.

On Wednesday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced the decision during the city’s annual budget presentation. Policies to revitalize the real estate market include the elimination of some property stamp duties for residential transactions.

In an effort to boost tourism, Chan also allocated more than 1 billion Hong Kong dollars ($127.8 million) for new measures, including fireworks and drone shows.

According to the city’s forecasts, Hong Kong’s economy is expected to grow between 2.5% and 3.5% this year, following last year’s expansion of 3.2%, which was worse than expected.

Country Garden Faces a Liquidation Petition
Chinese real estate giant Country Garden reported receiving a liquidation request from a creditor on Wednesday, according to a stock market document. The petition, filed at the High Court of Hong Kong by Ever Credit Limited, concerns the non-payment of a 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollar loan ($204.5 million), plus accrued interest.

According to the document, the High Court of Hong Kong has set the first date for hearing the petition on May 17th. Country Garden stated it would “resolutely oppose” it.

The group, once China’s largest private developer by sales, defaulted on its foreign (offshore) debts last October. The petition follows last month’s decision by the Hong Kong court to order the liquidation of China’s largest real estate group, Evergrande.

China Approves Revision of State Secrets Law
On Tuesday, China’s top legislative body approved a state secrets law, as Beijing emphasizes the importance of national security in decision-making. According to an official media interview released on Wednesday with the “head of the State Secrets Bureau,” the new law codifies party secret management and emphasizes confidentiality over emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

The law, which also standardizes information systems and equipment used to protect state secrets, will come into effect on May 1st.

In recent years, the Chinese government has increasingly focused on national security, as part of a shift that has also seen foreign advisors’ consultations intercepted by the police.