OCTOBER 2008, NUMBER TWELVE
THE BUSINESS CITY REVOLTS AGAINST BUSINESS
By Michael E. DeGolyer
Despite a low voter turnout, the pan-democrats—who favor faster introduction of universal suffrage than does the government—fared better than expected in September’s Legislative Council elections, writes Michael E. DeGolyer, professor of government at Hong Kong Baptist University. They added one popularly-elected seat and will have a blocking minority during negotiations about future election rules. But the big losers were the pro-business Liberals, who lost two crucial seats and face an uncertain future.
By Daniel Po-min Chan
The American financial crisis is already affecting Hong Kong but, as in the rest of East Asia, the impact should be contained, argues Daniel Po-min Chan, a senior investment strategist at DBS Bank (Hong Kong). Among other things, China’s continuing rapid economic growth should limit affects of the global credit crunch in Hong Kong. However, the real estate and stock markets are experiencing stress, and Hong Kong cannot escape completely unscathed.
By Philip Bowring
The Hong Kong government is working so hard to integrate its economy with that of mainland China that the city’s own special role—and thus its future prosperity—may be in jeopardy, according to Philip Bowring, a Hong Kong-based consultant and commentator. Officially, Hong Kong declares itself to be a global city with special legal, financial and social standards that set it apart from its big neighbor and help explain its affluence. But its leaders seem to lack the vision needed to protect that special status, and instead try too hard to make it like other cities of the much-poorer mainland.
By Thomas E. Kellogg
Recently the Hong Kong Lawyer, the monthly magazine of the Hong Kong Law Society, commissioned an article about whether Tibet could exercise a degree of autonomy under relevant international law, writes Thomas E. Kellogg, a program officer at the Open Society Institute and formerly of the China Law Center at Yale University. But after an extraordinary board meeting to review the article, the society refused to publish it, apparently fearful of adverse Chinese reaction. This is not the first example of self-censorship in Hong Kong but whether the practice serves anyone’s purposes remains debatable.
By Kai-ming Cheng
Ongoing educational reform in Hong Kong tries to combine the best of two quite different traditions: those of the British grammar school and the imperial civil examination system of China, writes Kai-min Cheng, chair professor of education at the University of Hong Kong. Many values of both have been retained, while still increasing emphasis on meeting the needs of a modern society. There have been many successes, not always due to government policies, and the Hong Kong system is beginning to have an effect across the region.
By Naubahar Sharif and Erik Baark
Hong Kong has the potential to become a leading source of innovative practices for southern China, a region of perhaps 300 million people, according to Naubahar Sharif and Erik Baark, professors at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This should involve more than increased research and development by Hong Kong manufacturers who rely on mainland factories; it also should include more innovative methods in trade and finance, key to Hong Kong’s prosperity, two areas which set the city apart from its neighborhood. Much has been accomplished but future success will depend upon whether government and business devote the needed resources.
COMMENTARY: ECONOMIC WORRIES PUSH POLITICS ASIDE
By Robert Keatley
September’s elections for the Legislative Council brought some surprising results: the pan-democrats fared better than expected while the pro-business Liberal Party suffered a major setback. But all this seemed soon forgotten as effects of the global financial crisis hit Hong Kong, and worries about the economic future dominated the news.