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APRIL 2010, NUMBER EIGHTEEN


UNDERGROUND FRONT: THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY IN HONG KONG

By Christine Loh

Are there any Communists in Hong Kong? Not officially, but of course China's ruling party exerts enormous influence in local affairs and has had a significant, if secretive, presence ever since its founding in 1921. Christine Loh, chief executive of Civic-Exchange, a Hong Kong policy research institution, describes the party's Hong Kong history and suggests the time has come for the Chinese Communist Party's local branch to go public—though she doesn't believe it will happen soon.
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By Frank Ching

Could Britain have gained the right to administer Hong Kong past 1997 if it had played its cards right? For a brief time in 1979, the answer was yes, writes Frank Ching, a Hong Kong-based author and columnist. After consulting recently-declassified British diplomatic papers and informed Chinese sources, he concludes that then-Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, much more concerned about reviving a stagnant economy and regaining Taiwan, was open to continued British administration for additional years—though the issue of Chinese sovereignty was never negotiable. However, a legal problem about Hong Kong land leases and some Beijing reconsideration closed that door, and in 1981 the Politburo formally decided to take back Hong Kong when Britain's 99-year lease on the New Territories expired.


HONG KONG AFTER 1997—AGONY AND ECSTASY

By Regina Ip

Hong Kong may be prosperous but its record of success falls far short of the potential, argues Regina Ip, chairperson of the Savantas Policy Institute, an elected legislator and the government's former Secretary for Security. Among other things, she blames a colonial legacy of passive governance plus weak post-handover leadership for failure to improve education, revise finances or carry out democratic reforms as necessary for sustained growth and social stability.

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By Nicholas Kwan

Beijing has designated Shanghai to be become China's financial center by 2020, causing some analysts to predict Hong Kong's economic demise. But that won't happen for two basic reasons, writes Nicholas Kwan, Head of Research, East, for the Standard Chartered Bank. For decades, Hong Kong has thrived best when facing serious competition and should continue to do so, while Shanghai cannot correct its own fundamental flaws—such as a weak judiciary, corruption and lack of a reliable regulatory system—within the next decade.

By Robert Keatley

Years ago, Beijing promised that universal suffrage is its "ultimate" plan for the Hong Kong political system. But negotiations about how, when or even whether to introduce such voting remain stymied, writes Robert Keatley, editor of the Hong Kong Journal. The pro-democracy side wants fast resolution of basic questions while a suspicious Beijing government, with the Hong Kong administration acting as its agent, refuses to move quickly. Whether they ever will agree remains unresolved.


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