NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Free Will Hong Kong Be?

February 4, 1997

The coming shift of power in Hong Kong from the British to the mainland Chinese has international observers looking for signs as to what the future will be for the territory's free and vibrant economy. China has pledged not to interfere with Hong Kong's way of doing business.

But as economists have come to understand, free economies depend upon civil liberties being maintained.

  • We already know that when China takes over, Hong Kong demonstrators will need police permits to assemble.
  • China has already announced that it intends to repeal some of the colony's laws, including its Bill of Rights Ordinance -- which is designed to protect freedom of speech, religion and assembly.
  • China has designated shipping magnate Tung Chee-hwa to lead the colony after the handover -- and he has supported the government's plans.
  • Ominously, Tung has argued that Chinese people don't need "western" freedoms.

Ironically, the United Kingdom has a long history of protecting civil liberties, even though it has no written constitution. China does not protect civil liberties, even though it has written them into law.

Source: Perspective, "Which Way, Hong Kong?" Investor's Business Daily, February 4, 1997.


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