Economic stability and Chinese control expected in Hong Kong for the next 25

Hong Kong should expect economic stability over the next 25 years, analysts say, along with ever-tighter control by China, which began ruling the international financial center 25 years ago. this week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the return of the former British colony.

Economically, Beijing is trying to connect Hong Kong more closely with mainland China, especially the neighboring tech-driven, factory-intensive province of Guangdong. The Hong Kong-Guangdong-Macau region has over 86 million people and a gross domestic product of $1.67 trillion.

This process could increase the wealth flowing into Hong Kong, the Council on Foreign Relations said in a statement. Analysis of May 19.

“This dramatic transformation will not end Hong Kong as a global financial hub, as it has already begun to drive economic integration with mainland China,” said the think tank’s legal expert in East Asia. ‘Is, Jerome A. Cohen, in analysis.

Hong Kong is now “at a crucial stage in its progress towards greater prosperity”, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua. said on Thursday after Xi arrived.

China has administered Hong Kong, a former British colony, since 1997. The UK ruled it for about 150 years and made a declaration with China for the handover in 1997. China then agreed to run Hong Kong for 50 years, until 2047, according to a “one country, two systems” model which would give the territory a certain local autonomy.

Xi is making his first trip outside mainland China since before the pandemic and his first to Hong Kong since 2017. The visit is expected to be “smooth” and “successful” as confirmation of Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong, said Yun Sun, director. of the China program at the Stimson Center in Washington.

“Looking at the next 25 years, I think we’ll probably see Hong Kong becoming more and more of a mainland city, like an ordinary city under mainland control, and operating according to Beijing’s will and policy,” Sun said.

Political freedoms seen in decline

Chinese leaders pushed back on Hong Kong’s autonomy and other political freedoms in 2020 after months of mass anti-China protests and riots a year earlier.

To stop future waves of protest, China approved a Hong Kong-focused national security law in June 2020. Journalists and hundreds of former protesters have been arrested on suspicion of anti-government activity.

Hong Kong libraries have removed politically sensitive books and universities are hiring top professors who support Beijing, said Wang Yaqiu, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch based in New York. It is now more difficult to defend workers’ rights, Wang added. She said posting anti-government material online is at risk of being shut down, even if overseas social media channels are open in Hong Kong, unlike the case in mainland China.

“There are no technical obstacles like on the mainland, but when you know if you can post things but you can be punished for posting content that criticizes the government – you can be arrested, you can go in prison for years – then of course you wouldn’t,” Wang said.

Beijing’s increased influence in Hong Kong’s legislature and security law have cast particular doubt on the autonomy China will grant until 2047.

“It will be just another Chinese city, in political terms, long before 2047 and could one day rival cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen for its economic life,” said Sean King, vice president of political consultancy Park. Strategies in New York. . “Anyway, Hong Kong’s days as Asia’s global city, as it was marketed to the world, are long gone.”

“Remaining freedoms” will vanish entirely over the next 25 years, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

No protests were planned during Xi’s visit to Hong Kong this week due to heightened security. But some people draped black cloth over the Chinese flags on display for the festivities, Wang said.