Unlike mainland China (CI No 3,592), Hong Kong is confident that at least its essential services should be ready for the millennium bug, according to K.C. Kwong, the territory’s secretary for IT and broadcasting. By the end of 1998, 85% of the mission-critical aspects of government departments and agencies were ready, and we aim to be complete by mid-1999, said Kwong. They will also have to have their contingency plans drawn up by then, in order to allow six months for testing, he adds. In Hong Kong’s private sector, about 85% of the banking sector’s systems were compliant by the end of last year, and they plan to have completed all remediation programs by the end of the first quarter. The futures and securities exchanges have already completed their program and began testing their systems last month. The real concern now, Kwong continued, is the small and medium-sized company sector. We surveyed 3,000 of them last September, and while 98% were aware of the problem, two-thirds said they had problems, and 57% had begun rectification work. In other words, he went on, there are still a lot of SMEs that have not yet tackled the problem. As for the Y2K problem across the border, Kwong said it is not easy to get information out of the relevant government agencies. He said the Hong Kong government’s greatest concern is with the Chinese nuclear plant across the bay, though they say they’ll be ready by mid-1999.