Hong Kong's Economic and Political Environment
Hong Kong's retrocession in the summer of 1997 was an event long prepared for, and built up to, in the minds of the territory's citizens and residents. A significant number of the educated applied for overseas passports and left for more politically and economically stable environments in which to live and work; the "Brain Drain" was a significant problem for Hong Kong from 1984.
Return to Chinese rule brought a promise from China that Hong Kong will retain its own economic and political system under its "one country, two systems" formula, that China's socialist economic system will not be practiced in Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
The region has its own chief executive, Tung Chee Hwa, “elected” to office in July 1997 and currently serving his second term. The Government is made up of the Executive and Legislative Branches, with the judicial branch being the Court of Final Appeal.
The main political parties include: Citizens Party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (conservative, pro-Chinese), Democratic Party (liberal), Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (pro-integration) and the Liberal Party (conservative, moderately pro-Chinese).
Life, post-1997, has been relatively calm, though since the Asian Crisis, rather more sedate. Property prices have dropped 40-60% causing a great deal of distress amongst a large proportion of the property-owning population, the so-called sandwich classes who are looking at negative equity on their property investment.
Taxi drivers, good economic indicators, still say business is "mama day" or "just ok", but business has picked up in the retail and entertainment sectors. Property developers are seeing increased interest in the primary housing market, which to some is a good sign. The general mood and atmosphere in Hong Kong continues to be somewhat depressed, however, as the stock market continues its uncertain track. The unemployment rate remains high and is a consistent problem for the government. As a result, there is a trend towards Hong Kongers relocating to China for work.
Ultimately, however, as long as politics do not infringe upon the perceived opportunity to make money, and the Hong Kong people are allowed to maintain the lifestyle enjoyed under British rule, a relatively small proportion of the population will engage in political activism. However, of late, certain groups have come out to voice their discontent over such issues as right of abode, and certain government reforms. One could say that there is general dissatisfaction with the government.
Hong Kong offers a stable environment in which to live and work. As an expatriate, there is little that you need worry about in this regard and it is unlikely political activism would impinge upon your life in the territory.
As for the future, the rule of law, an accountable and transparent government, a free-market economy, and the protection of human rights are all important for Hong Kong, its people and the city's status as the "Gateway to Asia" and “Asia’s World City”.
Last Updated: 4 March, 2003