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JANUARY 2009, NUMBER THIRTEEN


ECONOMIC CHALLENGES, SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM

By Tony Latter

The ongoing global economic crisis is having serious effects in Hong Kong, which sees itself as a leading world financial center. Recovery efforts will strain the budget as well as both real and traditional limits about the government’s economic and financial role, writes Tony Latter, former deputy chief of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. But for the foreseeable future, one thing that must not change is the firm link between Hong Kong’s currency and the United States dollar.

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The Hong Kong government has ambitious plans to reduce its serious environmental problems, many in cooperation with neighboring Guangdong Province. But Christine Loh, Chief Executive of the research institute Civic-Exchange, worries that it may waste the opportunity by seeking tactical gains at the expense of a successful long-term strategy.

By Chris Yeung

Last September’s legislative elections brought more change to Hong Kong’s politics than is readily apparent, writes Chris Yeung, editor-at-large of the South China Morning Post, its leading English-language newspaper. On certain populist issues, the government’s usual supporters seem ready to join the pan-democrats in opposition, and the prestige of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s administration has suffered accordingly. All this leaves the path to universal suffrage as unclear as always.

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By Derek Mitchell

The city of Hong Kong, a special administrative zone of China, has no separate identity in normal diplomatic and military affairs. But this does not mean it lacks its own place in some security affairs of importance to the United States and many other nations, writes Derek Mitchell, senior fellow and Director for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization. This is especially true regarding port security, financial security and public health—all of which have a role in combating terrorism.

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The global economic recession will affect Hong Kong adversely for a year or more, but the city will fare relatively well compared to other financial centers, according to its Chief Executive, Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen. In a November interview at his official residence, Mr. Tsang told the Hong Kong Journal that continued—if slower—growth of China, plus the fact that Hong Kong banks need no bailout, will help it pull through without some of the severe setbacks being experienced elsewhere. He also made clear that Beijing, which exercises sovereignty over Hong Kong, will determine some parameters of its future political system.

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By Robert Keatley

The closing months of 2008 saw the world recession hit Hong Kong more heavily than previously expected, despite the many strengths that may prevent the worst from happening. The economy was down, layoffs were up and the China trade slowed remarkably. Beijing offered new help, but also gained some new worries about whether the Hong Kong government can settle key outstanding political issues to the center’s satisfaction.

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