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JULY 2010, NUMBER NINETEEN


THE BEGINNING OF A THAW—OR A FATAL SPLIT IN THE DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT?

By Ma Ngok

Thanks to a late and surprising concession from Beijing, a limited political reform plan won legislative approval and will make Hong Kong's next elections—in 2012—slightly more democratic, writes Ma Ngoc, professor of government at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. But the legislative vote also split pro-democracy forces and it's not yet clear how long this will last, or what will happen next. Whether mainland officials offer future compromises or try to exploit democratic divisions may provide the answer.
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By Danny Gittings

The rule of law, which helps set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China, has fared surprisingly well since sovereignty returned to the mainland 13 years ago, according to Danny Gittings, a barrister and program director at the College of Humanities and Law in the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education. But as a new Chief Justice joins the Court of Final Appeal, there is concern that the court may weaken its commitment to civil liberties rather risk fresh legal confrontation with Beijing authorities.


SHOULD HONG KONG ABANDON ITS AMERICAN DOLLAR LINK?

By Tony Latter

The short answer is no, even if Beijing allows the yuan to strengthen on foreign exchange markets, writes Tony Latter, former Deputy Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. As the Chinese economy continues its rapid growth, there have been calls for Hong Kong to stop pegging its dollar's value to the American dollar, and align with the yuan instead. That may happen someday, especially if the Chinese currency ever floats freely in global markets. But for now and the immediate future, there remain sound financial reasons for Hong Kong to continue linking its currency to the Yankee dollar.

By Robert Keatley

Beijing officials did two things they had refused for years—negotiate directly with Hong Kong's pro-democracy politicians and agree to a concession they had previously rejected—to ensure that a Hong Kong government political reform plan cleared the legislature, writes Robert Keatley, editor of the Hong Kong Journal. Opinions differ on the significance, but the startling compromise leaves open the possibility that new ones may come in the years just ahead and lead to a more democratic electoral system in Hong Kong. Unless, of course, the whole effort has been only designed to divide the democrats and halt the reform process.


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