June 02, 2006

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China's rule of Hong Kong

In contrast to the earlier StratFor piece I linked on the perceived China military threat to the US, in Slate there is an article discussing why the idea of a rising China threat is a godsend for American military programs. I found the link via MR, where Alex Tabarok says:

Read the whole thing [the Slate article] for an assesment of China's true capabilities. Even more important is that rich, capitalist nations are much less dangerous than poor, communist nations. Consider how well China has treated Hong Kong. Moreover, democracy will not be long in coming to China.
My emphasis. The democracy point one can argue - for mine the CCP have enough of a grip to continue walking the tightrope between hardline political control but some kind of capitalist market economy.

Far more worthy of discussion is the statement (without any supporting evidence) Consider how well China has treated Hong Kong. One could certainly argue that one. China has partially let Hong Kong get on with things since 1997 under the "one country, two systems" formula, but only within certain bounds. There have been several "interpretations" of the Basic Law by the NPC, ignoring or contradicting locally made legal and/or political decisions. While not openly admitted, a system of self-censorship exists in the media and politics when it comes to "sensitive" topics. Sure the PLA aren't marching down Lockhart Rd., but they don't need to. Hong Kong needs China far more than China needs Hong Kong - witness the perpetual hand wringing by Hong Kong's worthies over the Big Lychee's place in the Motherland. In the 10 years since China took over, the city has had the Asia crisis, Tung Che-hwa, the Article 23 marches, the right of abode cases, the controversy over Donald Tsang's appointment, the ridiculous rotten boroughs of the functional Legco constituencies, SARS and more.

I throw the question open to my wise readership - how well has China governed Hong Kong?

posted by Simon on 06.02.06 at 09:43 PM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


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China has muddled through on Hong Kong, avoiding embarrassment I think on most issues save the rule of law, which judging from the reversals of the Court of Final Appeal decision and the 're-interpretations' of the Basic Law they have yet to grasp. But thankfully for them, some of the more behind-the-scenes harebrained decisions the Beijing leadership have made simply appeared to the local public and to everyone else as the incompetent positions of Tung Chee-Hwa and his apparatchiks.

In a way, while I do think Tung was not up to the political elements of his task, it was also very convenient for China to have their proxy be their scapegoat.

posted by: HK Dave on 06.04.06 at 10:05 AM [permalink]

I'll dispute your premise that Hong Kong needs China more than China needs Hong Kong.

The handwringing is a non-issue that provides the Central Government the opportunity to be the nice guys for the people of Hong Kong. "We still love you, guys. We'll never forget you and Hong Kong will always hold a special place in the Chinese economy." Meanwhile the handwringers here are actively moving their investments from Hong Kong to the mainland.

And for the CCP, which depends on economic growth to buy a level of complacency/loyalty from the masses in exchange for retaining a monopoly on power, the need for this constant flow of capital and investment from Hong Kong to China is crucial.

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