JANUARY 2011, NUMBER TWENTY
A CHANGING HONG KONG AND U.S. POLICY
By Michael F. Martin
Ever since Hong Kong came under Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the U.S. government has dealt with it as an entity somewhat separate from the rest of China—reflecting the many distinctly different political, social and economic practices that continue there. Michael F. Martin, Specialist in Asian Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, asks if Beijing’s increasing role in Hong Kong affairs means the time has come for Washington to revise this policy and treat it as just another mainland city. Not yet, he concludes, but the situation bears close scrutiny.
By Chris Yeung
Although Hong Kong politics have been calm since a mid-2010 political compromise brought about limited election reform, there is much ferment beneath the surface, writes Chris Yeung, News Director of the Hong Kong Economic Journal. The largest pro-government party has stopped giving the administration its automatic support, and new electoral rules may produce “super-legislators” who could give the Beijing-approved Chief Executive serious opposition. Meantime, the pan-democratic parties must deal with new splits and disunity in their ranks.
Hong Kong’s Land Policy: A Recipe for Social Trouble
By Alice Poon
Beginning in colonial days, the Hong Kong government has relied on rationing land sales and lease modifications for much of its revenue. The results include huge profits for property tycoons and excessively high home prices for the general public, contends Alice Poon, author of books on real estate policy and a former employee of two leading property developers. This has helped create serious social and economic problems that won’t be resolved until the government revises basic land and tax policies.
By Thomas E. Kellogg
A dissident who survived the 1989 Tienanmen crackdown, qigong entrepreneur and perhaps bank fraudster, Zhou Yongjun—who won political asylum in the U.S. and became a legal resident—now resides in a Sichuan jail, thanks to Hong Kong authorities who ignored the spirit and perhaps the letter of their legal obligations, writes Thomas E. Kellogg, program director and advisor to the president of the Open Society Institute in New York. He relates the complex story of Zhou, who arrived in Hong Kong on false papers for unclear reasons, and found himself handed over to mainland authorities rather than prosecuted locally or returned to his country of legal residence, the United States. The case raises questions about how Hong Kong applies its own laws.
By Naubahar Sharif
Thanks to new mainland policies, many Hong Kong-owned factories in nearby China face a difficult choice—either upgrade their polluting plants or move to the interior. Naubahar Sharif, assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, writes that their best choice is to innovate and move their products up the value chain. He contends this would let them continue to enjoy the advantages of remaining close to Hong Kong, and gives examples of how this could be done.
By Robert Keatley
The final six months of 2010 brought Hong Kong rapid economic growth and relatively quiet politics, despite worries to the contrary as the year began, writes Robert Keatley, Editor of the Hong Kong Journal. Yet the basic political issue—how and when to introduce universal suffrage—remained unsolved and the government also faced many other problems as the new year began. Among other things, they included the possible impact of new election rules, public discontent about a property bubble, poverty and even the costs of fung shui.