It has been two decades since the handover and a great deal has changed in Hong Kong and China.
Merchant class. It has been almost two decades since the former British colony of Hong Kong was brought back into the fold of the PRC (People’s Republic of China).
The territory’s flag, white five petal bauhinia blakeana – commonly known as the Hong Kong orchid - sits in a sea of red, like the yellow stars represented in the banner of the PRC itself. It is this flag, to which the city is subordinate, under the “one country two systems” outlined under the concepts of Basic Law that came to be as part of the return.
But for longer than any other emblem (over eight decades), embedded on the Colony’s flag, there was a scene of a Chinese merchant with his Chinese counterpart shaking hands (presumably on a business exchange) with a Chinese junk and western full rigged ship in the background. In many respects, this emblem was and has been Hong Kong. In essence Hong Kong is a trading community, largely based on being a conduit between China and the West.
Obviously, the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong, not to mention the economic underpinnings, have changed greatly during the last two decades. The PRC joined the WTO (World Trade Organization) and Hong Kong’s engagement with the adjacent PRD (Pearl River Delta) region (see Paul Scott Abbott’s Nansha article on page 5), and the recent emergence of the rest of Southeast Asia (see Robert Wallack article on page 8), particularly Vietnam have created landing spots for Hong Kong investment as well as competitors for Mainland export oriented industries.
Politically, China’s Xi Jinping, president of the PRC and general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, is consolidating his power over China’s influential elites while emphasizing economic policies featuring domestic development over the export model which built the “Factory to the World” and for decades delivered double digit GDP growth…
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