Hong Kong’s data come from its economic power, and are verified in a high quality of life, in first-class services, but also in economic terms the relationship with communist China, problematic and increasingly overwhelming, must not be forgotten.
This was recalled by economist Chenggang Xu: “Hong Kong, nerve centre of the Asian economy, is deeply influenced by the local and global realities, by China as well as by the EU and USA. However, today it is the situation of China that is decisive, 60% of companies listed on the local Stock exchange are Chinese.
In the banking system, logistics, finance … in every sector the ‘China factor’ is crucial”. “As an open economy, – recalls Xu – Hong Kong must be ready for the challenges of the rapidly deteriorating global economic situation, but its integration in the Chinese economy can be a critical element, both in terms of transparency and of potential crises”. Disproportionate cases of corruption revealed by the local media, show from time to time how the system of relationships (guanxi) between entrepreneurs and authorities, essential in the People’s Republic for favorable business transactions, is now increasingly involving the local situation. This is not only because of the importance of the characters involved, but also because it signals a deterioration of the public system, always previously considered relatively impervious to corruption.
Finally, a parallel banking system developed with the primary purpose of exporting immense capital abroad by taking advantage of the huge speculative ‘bubble’ grown in the People’s Republic, has infiltrated and polluted local finance, in the same way in which the recent partnership of the stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen appears to be going; rather than in the sense of a rationalization, also necessary, of the China-system, but more towards a reduction of the importance of Hong Kong, already eroded by the global convulsions, as a business hub in Asia.
There remains one last central issue, which Beijing has already shown in the first skirmishes with the US administration led by Donald J. Trump to consider ‘untouchable’. The concept of ‘one country, two systems’, which for the first time comes with this important issue being questioned, is however also central to the reality of Hong Kong. For Beijing, the emphasis is on ‘one country’ because without it there would be no ‘two systems’, but for the people of Hong Kong, having two systems means preventing assimilation into one country.
As noted in late January by the analyst Michael Chugani in the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, ‘the opposition considers an accomplished democracy the last line of defense of the two systems, while the loyalists consider it is a fraudulent attempt to rob China of its sovereignty over Hong Kong. The ideological tension has created an evident social divide in the elections, where the opposition constantly gets 55 votes against 45 for the pro-establishment but is punished by the electoral system’.
‘The revolt of Occupy Hong Kong, the Mongkok clashes, the blocking of the legal system, the insistence in considering the national education system as brainwashing and the strong hostility towards C Y Leung considered a puppet of Beijing, are results of this tension. A tension that will inevitably characterize the next election of the Chief Executive. The opposition favors John Tsang Chun-wah, a former Financial Secretary, over Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Leung’s deputy and mediator with little success and a lot of criticism during the worst days of the protests of 2014. In fact Tsang’s democratic credentials are not the best but he is preferred because hostile to Leung and because Lam is considered yet another potential spokesman of Beijing’.