A half submerged boat is lifted by cranes Tuesday, after Monday night's collision near Lamma Island, off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.
By NBC News staff and wire reports
Police on Tuesday arrested seven crew members from two boats carrying partygoers that collided, killing at least 38 people in one of Hong Kong's deadliest maritime accidents.
Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said six people, including captains from both vessels, were detained on suspicion of endangering passengers by operating the craft unsafely. "We expect further persons to be arrested," Tsang said. Police announced a seventh arrest after his comments.
Tsang said police suspect both crews had not "exercised the care required of them by law," but he did not offer details.
Salvage crews were raising the Lamma IV, which sank after colliding with a ferry Monday as it carried partygoers to a fireworks show celebrating China's national day.
Hong Kong police have arrested six crew members after a company boat and a ferry carrying more than 120 collided in what is being called Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster in more than 40 years. NBC's Ian Williams reports.
More than 100 people from the party boat were rescued and sent to hospitals. The ferry was damaged but completed its journey, and some of its passengers were treated for injuries.
The ferry collided with a boat owned by utility company Power Assets Holdings Ltd., which was taking its workers and their families to famed Victoria Harbor to watch a fireworks display in celebration of the national day and mid-autumn festival.
Police are interviewing survivors to determine if others were still missing following the accident. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has ordered a full investigation into the crash, the worst maritime accident in the territory's waters in 40 years.
Lueng rejected suggestions that Hong Kong needed to overhaul rules governing its busy sea lanes, the South China Morning Post reported.
"This is definitely an isolated incident. The marine territory of Hong Kong is safe," he said.
Dozens gathered at Kwai Chung Public Mortuary on Tuesday looking for relatives, the Post reported.
There was no immediate word about how Monday night's collision occurred on the tightly regulated waterways of one of Asia's safest places, although it appeared human error was involved. The evening was clear and both vessels should have been illuminated by running lights when they crashed near Lamma Island off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong island.
Vincent Yu / AP
Relatives of the victims throw paper money Tuesday as they pay tribute to the ill-fated people aboard a boat that sank Monday night near Lamma Island, off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.
Witnesses Sarah Blackman told the BBC she was on board one of the boats involved.
"I was on the top deck of the ferry and felt the impact — it threw people off their seats. The sound the collision made was horrific," she told the BBC.
"Our ferry cut its engines and a crew member checked if passengers had sustained injuries from the impact. Our engines went back on, and a couple of other passengers and I went back to the rear of our ferry to look for the other boat that was now behind us, and that is when we saw it sinking in the water. As far as I'm aware, no lifeboats were on board — just life buoys and life jackets," she added.
Six crew members have been arrested after a boat and a ferry collided in Hong Kong killing at least 37-people as they headed to a holiday fireworks display. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.
Survivors told local television stations that the power company boat started sinking rapidly after the 8:23 p.m. (8:23 a.m. ET) collision. One woman said she swallowed a lot of water as she swam back to shore.
A man said he had been on board with his children and didn't know where they were. Neither gave their names.
Rescuers search for survivors in a partially-submerged boat after two vessels collided in Hong Kong waters on Monday.
By Kari Huus, NBC News
Updated at 11:16 p.m. ET: At least 36 people died and dozens were injured when a ferry carrying more than 120 people on a company outing collided with another ferry and sank near an island south of Hong Kong on Monday night in one of the city's worst maritime accidents.
The ferry belonging to the Hong Kong Electric Company was taking staff and family members to watch a fireworks display to celebrate China's National Day and mid-autumn festival when it hit the other ship and quickly began sinking near Lamma island.
Some survivors said people had to break windows to swim to the surface. "We thought we were going to die. Everyone was trapped inside," said another middle-aged woman.
Teams of men in white coats, green rubber gloves and yellow helmets carried corpses off a police launch in body bags on Tuesday. Local media reported that children were among the dead.
More than 100 people were sent to five hospitals and nine people suffered serious injuries or remain in critical condition, the government said in a statement.
The search for victims would continue overnight on Tuesday, the fire department said, because it was uncertain whether there were more people unaccounted for in the incident.
The crash took place at 8:23 p.m. as a boat was traveling from Lamma Island towards the main island of Hong Kong to view the National Day fireworks display.
It was hit by a passenger ferry that regularly travels the 40-minute route between Hong Kong's Central District to Yung Shue Wan, a former fishing village on Lamma that is now favored by tourists and expatriate professionals.
More than 120 people were aboard the Hong Kong utility vessel.
"Low visibility and many obstacles on board" made rescue difficult, according to the fire department.
Many passengers trapped in the flooded upturned ferry before it sank, Reuters reported, citing survivors.
"The rear of the ferry started to sink," a survivor told the Post. "I suddenly found myself deep under the sea. I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don’t know where my two kids are."
Richard A. Brooks / AFP - Getty Images
A victim is carried ashore by rescue personnel after a ferry carrying about 120 people collided with another commercial vessel off Hong Kong late Monday.
The government initially said a ferry collided with a tugboat.
Later, it said both boats were passenger vessels, but did not give details.
Several local media outlets reported that the second boat was a ferry operated by Hong Kong & Kowloon ferry.
That vessel was carrying about 100 passengers, some of whom were slightly injured, the South China Morning Post, citing Radio and Television Hong Kong.
"Relevant government departments are making all-out efforts to rescue people who fell into the sea after the collision. Senior officials and I will closely monitor the situation. We will do whatever we can for remedial actions,” said Hong Kong's top government official Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday night.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gigi Chao, seen in the conference room of her office in Hong Kong Thursday, has received a flood of offers of dates and marriage from men.
By The Associated Press
HONG KONG -- The daughter of a flamboyant Hong Kong tycoon -- who has offered $65 million to any man who can woo her away from her lesbian partner -- said she's not upset with her father. Still, it's unlikely she will be accepting any of the marriage proposals flooding in.
Cecil Chao made world headlines this week when he offered the unusual marriage bounty after learning that his daughter, Gigi Chao, had eloped with her partner to France.
"I'm actually on very, very loving terms with my father. We speak on a daily basis. He just has a very interesting way of expressing his fatherly love," the 33-year-old told The Associated Press.
CNBC's Robert Frank has all the details on the story about Gigi Chao's father who is offering $65 million to any man able to marry her.
She said her father offered the reward because he was upset after learning she had "a church blessing in Paris" with her girlfriend of the past several years.
"What this whole episode really highlights is that perhaps still, the Chinese — or in fact the Hong Kong mentality — can perhaps tolerate the 'don't ask, don't tell' view of sexuality," she said. "But as a social statement, it's still very much a sensitive issue."
Hong Kong decriminalized homosexuality in 1991, but it does not legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Cecil Chao is the chairman of Hong Kong property developer Cheuk Nang Holdings and has a reputation for being a playboy.
Kin Cheung / AP
Cecil Chao, chairman of Hong Kong property developer Cheuk Nang Holdings, pictured Friday, offered $65 million to any man who can woo her away from her lesbian partner.
He once claimed to have had 10,000 girlfriends but has never married.
He's also known for his love of Rolls-Royces and for being a qualified helicopter pilot, a skill he shares with Gigi Chao, one of his three children by three different women.
Cecil Chao said Friday in a separate interview with the AP that reports that his daughter had married were just rumors.
He added that he has received hundreds of offers from suitors since he made the offer and his daughter has probably had thousands.
"I was very surprised about the reaction from around the world," said the 76-year-old tycoon, sporting gold, mirrored sunglasses and a sport jacket over an unbuttoned polo shirt. "Thousands of people writing to say they want to be my in-laws."
He said he's offering the money because he wants to make sure his daughter has a comfortable life in Hong Kong, which he believes will require a house worth $19 million. The rest of the money can be used for investments, he said.
"Living a comfortable life in Hong Kong, not super-luxury, takes HK$500 million ($65 million)," he said.
When asked whether she would accept an eligible suitor, Gigi Chao laughed off the question, saying, "We'll just worry about that when the time comes."
'Occupy' protesters hold onto their position during an eviction process from the HSBC bank headquarters area in Hong Kong on September 11, 2012. The authorities sent bailiffs to evict protesters camped outside the bank's headquarters, the last outpost of the anti-capitalist movement in Asia.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
A bailiff, left, shows a notice to a protester as members of the media crowd around during an eviction process from the HSBC bank headquarters area in Hong Kong on September 11, 2012.
The Associated Press reports from Hong Kong — One of the global Occupy movement's longest-running encampments came to an end Tuesday in Hong Kong as bailiffs cleared out anti-capitalist activists and their belongings from a site underneath HSBC's Asian headquarters.
As nightfall neared, a handful of them clung to two sofas, all that was left of a camp that had included a dozen tents, tables, bookcases, gas cookers and lamps. They were surrounded by black-clad bailiffs who dragged them away one by one after earlier cataloguing and packing up their belongings. Read the full story.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
Bailiffs remove a tent erected by protesters at their camp outside the HSBC bank headquarters in Hong Kong on September 11, 2012.
Kin Cheung / AP
Bailiffs remove a protester from the headquarters of HSBC in Hong Kong on September 11, 2012.
Thousands of protesters turn out outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on Sept. 7. Parents, teachers and pupils along with activists in the former British colony continued their protest against the government's plan to introduce a new subject "Moral and National Education" into a new curriculum, starting from new school year.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
A child holds a sign as protesters sit near the government's headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept. 7, during a protest against plans to introduce Chinese patriotism classes.
Tyrone Siu / Reuters
A man gets his head shaved as a sign of protest during a demonstration against the launch of national education outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sept. 7.
Reuters -- Protests in Hong Kong ahead of an election on Sunday are posing a major test for the city's new leader as voter discontent fueled by anger over perceived meddling by Beijing threatens to shake up the political landscape.
This time round, Hong Kong's legislature will have a more democratic flavor - it has been expanded from 60 to 70 seats, with just over half of them to be directly elected.
But the results are likely to reflect a recent upsurge in anti-China sentiment, which has been exacerbated by a plan for a school curriculum extolling the achievements of the Chinese Communist Party.
Thousands of people have demonstrated outside government headquarters for the past week demanding the school program be scrapped, forcing Leung Chun-ying to cancel what was to have been his first major international engagement as Hong Kong's leader at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Russia.
On Friday evening, the crowds swelled further as tens of thousands of ordinary citizens, many dressed in black, denounced the curriculum as Communist Party propaganda which glossed over the darker aspects of Chinese rule, hitting a nerve in the former British colony that remains proud of its freedoms 15 years after London handed it over to Beijing.
"I am really scared (about) this national education," said a retired fireman in the crowd with his five-year-old grandson. "They really aren't talking the truth. They are telling a lie to the children."
The protests have included hunger strikes and the parading of a replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue which was erected in Beijing's Tiananmen Square during the 1989 demonstrations and crackdown.
Students set up a banner in front of the Central Government Complex in Hong Kong on September 4, 2012 as students and teachers protested for a sixth straight day against plans to introduce Chinese patriotism classes. Protesters at the government headquarters said they would not vote for parties that supported "national education", which they say is a bid to brainwash children with Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
A student on hunger strike, left, has his blood pressure checked in front of the Central Government Complex in Hong Kong on September 4, 2012.
Reuters reports — Thousands of protesters surrounded Hong Kong's government headquarters on Monday over a plan to introduce a pro-China school curriculum that they describe as an attempt to brainwash students.
Chanting "No to brainwashing education. Withdraw national education", some 8000 people denounced a Hong Kong government-funded booklet entitled "The China Model" they say glorifies China's single Communist party rule while glossing over more brutal aspects of its rule and political controversies. Read the full story.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
Students shout slogans in front of the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on September 3, 2012.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
Students paint banners in front of the Central Government Complex in Hong Kong on September 4, 2012.
A powerful typhoon swept through Hong Kong, pounding the region with heavy rain and strong wind. NBC's Ed Flanagan reports.
By Ed Flanagan, NBC News
BEIJING – Hong Kong battened down the hatches Monday and rode out the strongest typhoon to hit the city in 13 years.
For the first time since 1999, Hong Kong raised its Signal 10 typhoon warning – the highest on the city’s weather observatory scale – for several hours Monday evening as typhoon Vicente pounded the region with gale force winds said to have reached speeds as high as 101 miles per hour.
Hong Kong authorities reported 129 people were injured by the typhoon, with as many as 30 of the injuries caused by flying debris scooped up by the high winds. Seven incidents of flooding were reported in Hong Kong’s New Territories region.
Meanwhile, Beijing suffered through a 10-hour downpour over the weekend that dumped 6.7 inches of rain in parts of the city and as much as 18 inches in the worst hit parts on the outskirts of Beijing in what is being called the worst flooding to hit the Chinese capital in six decades.
The subsequent severe flooding killed at least 37 people in the country's capital and affected nearly two million people, sparking millions of angry messages and complaints on China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo, in recent days. Users posted countless home videos and pictures of cars struggling through wheel-deep water, waterfalls cascading down into Beijing's subway entrances and cars being swept away by the currents.
The differing level of destruction between the two cities provoked outrage at Beijing’s government, with critics asking why the city’s infrastructure failed to buffer the storm.
Hong Kong relatively unscathed in typhoon's aftermath In Hong Kong, the damage from the typhoon wasn’t nearly as bad. Trees throughout the city were overturned while flying debris reportedly caused some minor structural damage in parts of Hong Kong’s usually busy financial district of Central. The high winds were said to have also whipped up large waves in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor which pounded walkways and ferry terminals around the famous city skyline.
The brewing storm sent office workers scrambling home as they hurried to avoid a partial public transportation suspension in the lead-up to the storm. Non-essential government offices were also closed early Monday and port and airport authorities shut down operations until the storm passed.
During the worst of the storm in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the BBC reported that 60 flights were cancelled, an additional 60 more delayed and 16 diverted.
By Tuesday 8 a.m. local time, the Hong Kong Observatory reported a weakened Typhoon Vicente was heading away from Hong Kong, allowing public transportation and flights from Hong Kong International Airport to resume. Trade on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also resumed earlier Tuesday.
The typhoon is reportedly creeping its way into China’s Guangdong province, where weather experts were warning that Vicente could still dump as much as 12 inches of rain in affected areas.
The typhoon comes as China is experiencing serious weather disturbances throughout the country. Near China’s central metropolis of Chongqing, heavy rains have caused flooding and brought the Three Gorges Dam – the world’s largest hydropower dam – perilously close to its largest flood peak this year.
Critics pound government’s response to Beijing storm
While Hong Kong seemed to weather the storm, nearly every aspect of the government’s response to the Beijing flooding has been criticized by the public, with much of the anger being directed at the shoddy drainage system. Netizens have also been quick to complain about the Beijing municipal government’s lack of preparedness for dealing with the disaster and the city’s failures in weather forecasting and deploying a good storm-warning service.
Beijing officials are saying that economic losses from the storm will surpass $1.5 billion dollars. But the PR hit to the city’s vaunted new infrastructure just four years after its coming out party during the summer Olympics has been far more costly -- especially considering the relatively minor damage suffered by Hong Kong from a major typhoon.
Public outrage over Beijing deaths
“Hong Kong just experienced the biggest typhoon in 13 years, but there are only seven reports of flooding, one report of landslide and no one died,” wrote one angry poster on Weibo comparing the Hong Kong typhoon with Beijing’s flooding. “The media effectively announced the alert, and reported the complaints of its citizens…The whole society functions under the normal rhythm.”
“The rainfall in Beijing and the typhoon in Hong Kong,” stated another irate poster. “Two completely different systems are shown in the same mirror.”
Sensitive to the great public outcry, Weibo began censoring overly critical posts on the subject of the Beijing floods. Citing alleged directives from the Beijing Municipal Committee Department of Propaganda, the China Digital Times posted reputed orders from the department that called for “public opinion guidance concerning yesterday’s rainstorms” in the form of state-run media shifting the focus of its news stories away from issues like the failure of the city’s drainage system to features that “emphasize the power of human compassion over the elements.”
On the edge of the Gobi desert, Beijing has not always had to deal with large rainstorms like Hong Kong, which is regularly in the season path of typhoons in the South China Seas area. Still, with more heavy rains expected later this week, local officials here will certainly be feeling the heat to keep the city largely dry throughout the rest of this rainy season.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung throws a defaced mask with a long nose, depicting Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as a liar, towards Chun-ying as he attends his first question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on July 16, 2012.
Kin Cheung / AP
Legislative Council member Lee Cheuk-yan sits next to a picture of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with a Pinocchio nose during Leung Chun-ying's question-and-answer session on July 16, 2012.
As Leung spoke in the legislature, maverick activist lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung hurled an effigy of Pinnochio, the cartoon character prone to telling lies, at the new leader, missing him by a few meters.
The chief executive, the third person to lead Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, was unfazed, maintaining a stoic expression throughout the 90-minute session. Read the full story.
Kin Cheung / AP
Leung Kwok-hung, also known as Long Hair, second from right, is taken away by security officers after throwing the effigy. A placard near Leung shows a picture of China's late activist Li Wangyang who died June following his release from a two-decade of imprisonment, and reads: "Mourning my warrior."
Tens of thousands take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park June 4, 2012 to mark the 23rd anniversary of the military crackdown of the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Tyrone Siu / Reuters
Tens of thousands of protesters take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park June 4, 2012 to mark the 23rd anniversary of the military crackdown of the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Jerome Favre / EPA
Thousands of people attend a candle-lit vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the pro-democracy students who died in an army crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Philippe Lopez / AFP - Getty Images
People take part in a a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong on June 4, 2012 held to mark the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, are believed to have died when the government sent in tanks and soldiers to clear Tiananmen Square, bringing a violent end to six weeks of pro-democracy protests.
Vincent Yu / AP
Portraits of victims of the June 4,1989 bloodshed are displayed at the June 4 Memorial Museum run by pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the June 4th military crackdown on a pro-democracy student movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok, two brothers who control Sun Kai Properties, the second largest property company in the world, were arrested by Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption Thursday, scandalizing the city. NBC's Ed Flanagan reports.
By Ed Flanagan, NBC News
BEIJING – If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, you’ve undoubtedly walked by a building built or managed by Sun Hung Kai Properties, the second largest property company in the world and one of the small number of prominent developers that control real estate in this land-scarce region.
To say that the Kwok family, which controls Sun Hung Kai, has played a part in constructing Hong Kong’s iconic skyline would be massive understatement. Three of the tallest buildings in the city were constructed by the firm as well as one of the region’s more surreal icons, a replica of Noah’s Ark which doubles as a hotel and theme park. (The Kwoks are evangelical Christians.)
So when news broke that the company’s co-chairmen, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, were arrested on Thursday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), it caused an uproar that has scandalized the city of 7 million and caused the firm’s stock to tumble.
Make that plummet.
In trading Friday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Sun Hung Kai’s stock price plunged 13 percent, for a loss of $4.9 billion in market value.
Though no charges were publicly announced and the Kwok brothers were released late Thursday evening, their arrest at the same time as the reported detention of Rafael Hui, the number two in the Hong Kong government from 2005-2007, has some speculating that the arrests were related.
If so, the arrests one again underscore the tight relationship between Hong Kong’s government and local property developers, both of whom are in a perpetual race to keep up with the housing demands in the world’s most densely populated city.
Mercurial rise not without its issues With estimated holdings of $18.3 billion, the Kwok family is the 27th wealthiest family in the world, according to Forbes Magazine. Their company, which was founded in 1963 by family patriarch, Kwok Tak Seng, has risen to prominence by breaking into every facet of the property business, from residential to hotels to industrial development.
Bobby Yip / Reuters
Thomas Kwok (R) and his younger brother Raymond Kwok, both Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, listen to a question during a news conference announcing the company's interim results in Hong Kong in this March 11, 2009 file photo.
By the end of 2011, Sun Hung Kai was reported to have a land bank of 46.7 million square feet of gross floor area either completed or in development. The group also owns 26 million square feet of farmland in Hong Kong’s New Territories that is in the process of receiving planning permission to be converted to building land.
That translates into an astounding amount of property under Sun Hung Kai’s control in a city where land is extremely precious.
The company and the family have also long been in the spotlight in Hong Kong. When the family patriarch died in 1990, he left the reins to his eldest son Walter, who became chairman and chief executive. In 1997, Walter was kidnapped and held for a week before his family paid a ransom of more than $77 million to have him released.
Walter returned to the company after his release, but eventually the family relationship unraveled when Thomas and Raymond Kwok dethroned Walter in 2008.
With the support of their mother, the two brothers charged Walter with being unfit to run the business and after a nasty struggle, eventually took over. Thomas, 60, runs the construction of new developments and Raymond, 58, is in charge of the company’s finances.
Are Hong Kong’s business and political interests too close? The arrest of the Kwok brothers and Rafael Hui by the ICAC comes at a time when Hong Kong is dealing with a number of incidents that bring into question just how transparent and corruption-free the former British colony is today.
On the face of it, the city has a good reputation. The Heritage Foundation calls Hong Kong the world’s freest economy while Transparency International calls it the 12th least corrupt country and/or territory in the world. (The United States came out 10th and 24th respectively.)
But the relationship between real-estate developers and the government has long been a source of simmering tensions in the crowded city. Opposition leaders and some social groups have long criticized the cozy relationship between the government and the developers.
Thousands took to the streets in March to demand that the city’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang quit after he was was accused of accepting invitations for lavish yacht dinners and private jet trips from local businessmen.
In elections for the city’s next chief executive just last weekend, the winner Leung Chung-ying, campaigned on a platform of providing more low-income housing in the city.
Some argue that the Kwok scandal is the next in a storyline of business and government blurring together too closely. However, the fact that the ICAC went ahead with this investigation suggests that for the present time at least, the mechanisms in place to deter and uncover corruption are still strong in Hong Kong.
Where this investigation goes from here will go a long way towards determining whether this latest crisis of faith in Hong Kong is the next step in a gradual erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and financial freedom or one that rights it once and for all.
American Nancy Kissel, seen leaving the High Court in Hong Kong on March 24, 2011, wants to appeal against her conviction for murdering her husband, Robert.
By msnbc.com staff and news services
HONG KONG -- An American woman convicted twice in Hong Kong of drugging her wealthy banker husband with a laced strawberry milkshake and bashing him to death wants to appeal her latest conviction.
The South China Morning Post newspaper, which requires readers to register, reported Friday that Nancy Kissel had applied for permission to appeal her conviction last year for the murder of Robert Kissel.
Kissel's lawyer previously said she was not going to appeal, but that she planned to ask to serve her sentence in the U.S., the AFP news agency reported.
However, a court spokeswoman confirmed to AFP Friday that Kissel, originally from Adrian, Mich., had recently sought permission to appeal her conviction.
Nancy Kissel, an American woman living in Hong Kong, was convicted of killing her investment banker husband by poisoning his milkshake. After winning an appeal, a second trial recently ended with another guilty verdict for Kissel, who insists she was a battered wife who acted in self-defense. TODAY's Jenna Wolfe speaks with Frank Shea, a key witness in the case, and criminal defense attorney Paul Callan.
"No date has been set for the hearing," a court spokeswoman told AFP.
'Adultery, violence, spying, greed' Kissel's first trial in 2003 grabbed world headlines as it detailed the disintegration of the wealthy expatriate couple's marriage in the southern Chinese financial center.
AFP said the case had shone "a spotlight on Hong Kong's elite expatriate community, and featuring sensational allegations of a heady mix of adultery, violence, spying, greed and enormous wealth."
In March last year, a jury found her guilty at a retrial. She had denied murder, but admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter for causing his death.
She had testified her husband physically and sexually abused her.
Kissel must apply for permission to appeal because the 28-day deadline to file one following the trial in March has passed.
Robert Kissel's older brother, Andrew, was also murdered. He was found stabbed to death in 2006 in his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion at the age of 46, three days before he was going to plead guilty in federal court to real estate fraud. His estranged wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, did not attend the funeral.
Andrew and Rob Kissel shared more than blood. They each had the trappings of success; nice homes; wealth; luxury lifestyles. Who would want to kill either man, let alone both of them?
Tens of thousands of mainland Chinese women travel every year to Hong Kong to give birth so their children can enjoy the former British colony's benefits. NBC's Adrienne Mong reports on the growing tension the trend has fueled between Hong Kong locals and mainlanders.
By Adrienne Mong
HONG KONG & SHENZHEN, China – Anchor babies. Birth tourism. Cross-border births.
It’s a growing global phenomenon driven by Chinese with wherewithal and wealth. Chinese from a China that – even as it continues to grow and open up to the rest of the world – still faces a restrictive enough present and an uncertain enough future that they choose to give birth outside of China.
Some do it to avoid the one-child policy. Many do so for the benefits the child will receive as a citizen of the country into which it’s born: free or better education, the freedom to travel, good social services, a safe haven.
The United States is overwhelmingly the most popular destination for wealthy Chinese, a phenomenon covered by NBC News.
But a close second is Hong Kong, the tiny former British colony of 7 million people.
Since its return to Beijing’s oversight in 1997, and as China has made it easier for its people to travel, tens of thousands of mainlanders regularly head over the border to book up maternity wards at Hong Kong’s good quality and affordable public hospitals.
Of the 88,000 births in Hong Kong in 2010, roughly 45 percent were delivered by mainland Chinese women, according to Hong Kong's government.
The growing number of cross-border births isn’t just straining health care resources and the local population’s goodwill. It’s also helped to provoke an identity crisis that 15 years after the handover has alienated local residents from their northern neighbors.
A business catering to pregnant mainlanders For four years, Gordon Li has been running a business from Shenzhen, southern China, arranging travel to Hong Kong for pregnant mainland Chinese women.
Many Hong Kong locals believe their quality of life is being eroded by mainland China---including the air.
(*Gordon Li is not his real name; he did not want to divulge his identity. Just last week, another agent from mainland China pleaded guilty to breaching Hong Kong immigration laws for helping mainland women give birth in the city. It was Hong Kong’s first prosecution of its kind and, given the current mood, may not be the last.)
“We work like a travel agency [and] the fee depends on the client –whether they want to stay in a luxury hotel or a small hotel, etc.,” said Li, who charges his clients between a few thousand yuan and 20,000 yuan ($3,200) to navigate the system. Most of his customers are from the mainland’s wealthiest regions like Guangdong, Zhejiang, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Li estimates that he has helped at least a few hundred mainland women to have babies in Hong Kong. “Last year was the most,” he said.
His early clients were trying to get around the mainland’s strict one-child policy, but today most of his new customers travel to Hong Kong because, Li says, there are “a lot of conveniences.”
The public health system in freewheeling capitalist Hong Kong is considered better and safer than it is in its communist neighbor. Maternal mortality ratio statistics collected by organizations like the World Health Organization support Hong Kong’s reputation for good quality health care for mothers and newborn babies.
Every day, more than 10,000 students who live in mainland China cross the border to go to school in Hong Kong.
Other benefits for newborns include being automatically eligible for “the right of abode” in Hong Kong, which means becoming permanent residents. Which in turn means unfettered access to free public education considered superior to that in the mainland; political freedoms; and ease of travel anywhere in the world.
And they are entitled to all of this without giving up their China citizenship.
In fact, more than 10,000 mainland Chinese children who were born in Hong Kong, but live in China, go across the border every day to attend school in the former British colony.
Hong Kong is fed up Huang Lijuan is a 27-year-old kindergarten teacher from Guangdong Province. She and her husband, Tsing Ho Nan, a 32-year-old engineer from Hong Kong, met in Shenzhen and moved to Hong Kong after getting married.
“I’m three months pregnant, and the due date is August 5,” Huang told NBC News one afternoon in a community center in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. “But I haven’t been able to book a hospital bed in a maternity ward. All of the public hospitals are fully booked.”
“There are 80 to 100 [mainland women married to Hong Kong men living here] who are pregnant, but they failed to book any hospitals to deliver their babies,” said Koon Wing Tsang, an organizer with the Mainland-Hong Kong Families Rights Association. Like Huang, they are all casualties of recent restrictions on non-local women.
Under popular pressure, the Health Authority (HA) in Hong Kong has instituted quotas for non-local residents. Currently, only 3,400 births by non-local women are permitted at public hospitals this year – down from 10,000 in 2011. Private hospitals are allowed 31,000 births by non-local women.
“The government and the HA are committed to ensuring that local pregnant women will be given priority in the use of the services over non-Hong Kong residents (non-eligible persons, NEPs),” said a Health Authority spokesman in a written response to NBC News requests for an interview.
But even the new quotas may not be enough. As Huang found out, all the maternity wards in Hong Kong’s public hospitals – and many private clinics – are fully booked until September.
Moreover, the quotas don’t prevent mainland women from using the emergency wards as a last resort. More than 1,600 such births last year were delivered in Hong Kong’s emergency rooms – an unnecessary medical risk since such wards are not equipped or staffed properly for deliveries.
Some Hong Kong government officials have raised the possibility of an outright ban on mainland Chinese women giving birth in the city, but critics have argued enforcement is problematic.
Others have suggested ending the practice of granting automatic permanent residency status to babies born to non-local parents. To do so, according to legal experts as well as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang, would mean having to reinterpret the Basic Law – the territory’s mini-constitution.
Any such action would require consultations with Beijing, which could prove to be a political minefield for Hong Kong, which prides itself on its Western-style democratic values.
'Locusts' & 'running dogs' Adding fuel to the fire is a recent series of tense confrontations between local and mainland residents.
Last month, Hong Kong citizens were outraged over a report that a Dolce & Gabbana boutique had banned local shoppers from taking photographs of its shop, but allowed mainland Chinese tourists and other visitors to snap away. A Facebook campaign days later galvanized more than a thousand people to protest outside the shop, forcing it to shut early.
Barely a week later, a heated dispute broke out on the Hong Kong subway when a mainland Chinese child was asked to stop eating on the train – a practice banned in the territory. The argument between locals and mainlanders was captured by a cell phone camera, and the video went viral on the Internet.
Tensions were further inflamed by comments from a Peking University professor, who when shown the video of the subway dispute, called the territory’s residents “running dogs of the British imperialists.”
This month, a group of concerned Hong Kong citizens bought a full-page ad in a popular mainstream Chinese-language Hong Kong daily newspaper that called mainland visitors “locusts.” The term refers to the large numbers overrunning the territory to consume all its resources.
The "Locust" song, which features anti-mainland China lyrics, has gone viral on the Internet in Hong Kong.
A “locust” song even made the rounds on the Internet, with spiteful lyrics poking fun at mainland Chinese, and inspiring at least one group of young Hong Kong men to roam around singing the song at visiting mainland Chinese.
An identity crisis “I think the real reason that Hong Kong people are upset is because they feel helpless politically,” said Wen Yunchao, a mainland blogger and activist now living in the territory. “The rules they believe in are being broken by all these mainland visitors, and yet they still have to rely on China economically.”
Dr. Elaine Chan at the Center of Civil Society and Governance at Hong Kong University agrees the tension is “a manifestation of something deeper.”
“Hong Kong people do not have a very positive view of mainlanders,” she said. “Not just because they are buying properties and not just because they are buying all the luxury goods. But also because of how they carry themselves.”
Both Wen and Chan argue there’s an underlying sensitivity to and awareness of the fact that Hong Kong is bound up with China –culturally, historically, politically, and economically – and yet there remains a gap in fundamental values between the two: in terms of the rule of law or basic civility. That tension makes some people in the territory uncomfortable.
For now, Beijing has remained silent at least on the cross-border births issue, although authorities in neighboring Guangdong province have promised to find a solution.
But another hot-button topic may soon eclipse that of birth tourism. The main topic of conversation last week was a government proposal to open up the border to mainland Chinese drivers and their vehicles. Concern over road safety issues is so great in Hong Kong that an online petition has already gathered 7,000 signatures.