When Great Britain announced that it would hand Hong Kong over to China, as of 1997, China agreed to preserve some of the rights that the island’s residents were used to–ones that Mainland Chinese can only dream of. Recently however, Beijing announced that there would not be open elections in 2017. It would require that all candidates must “love the country (China)” and “love Hong Kong”. Namely, love the Central Committee!
After Great Britain announced that it would turn the territory over to China, back in 1984, many Hong Kongers fled to the West. Hong Kong was recently voted the most friendly place for businesses to operate, and its financial district, along with that of London and New York, are considered to be the preeminent securities markets on Earth. In promising Hong Kong that it would retain its basic rights, China wanted to retain this capital jewel. But now, it appears that the Chinese way of doing business is showing.
Hong Kongers are political activists and certainly do not wish to lose any of their rights. While the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre was kept out of the Mainland media, back in May, there was considerable coverage and demonstrations in Hong Kong. An unofficial vote brought some 600,000 Hong Kongers to the “polls”, out of seven million residents, seeking free elections–as had been promised. Now, that’s not a bad showing since it was only meant to send Beijing a message. Also, subsequent rallies, protesting the Mainland’s withdrawing of basic rights, brought out some 800,000 demonstrators.
If Beijing continues on this path to withdraw rights, it appears intent on obliterating democracy and instituting a form of Managed Capitalism, it will truly kill the financial gem that it had coveted. Professional talent, wealth and businesses will follow the migration that was evident between 1984 and 1997. China may very well get what it seems to have wished for–a third-rate financial capital.