Hong Kong’s Transition to Capitalism

Hong Kong’s Transition to Capitalism

Hong Kong’s “transition” seems to have faded from the international headlines. Contrary to the expectations of doom and gloom, the handover to China, or the “takeover,” as the New York Times put it on July 1, did not have a devastating impact on the territory’s civil and political liberties. Peaceful demonstrations proceed as before, leading democrat Martin Lee has not been thrown into jail or forced into exile, the press has not reined in its criticisms of the executive, and most academics are not particularly concerned about political pressure. The Chinese government, less worried about foreign interference, seems to have relaxed its grip over the territory. The new chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, is riding high in the polls. The more acute observers detect a slow and subtle erosion of political freedoms in the long term: for example, election rules recently introduced by Hong Kong’s provisional legislature will make it more difficult for democrats to be elected in the future, but these complex tinkerings with the political machinery will disappoint those looking for a headline-grabbing story.

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