HK handover predictions: Golden geese and democracy ‘infections’
China / June 28, 2017

In July 1997, more than 150 years of British rule came to an end in Hong Kong with its handover to China, a historic event viewed with a mixture of uncertainty and hope. We asked observers how their predictions turned out 20 years on. Would Hong Kong remain China’s ‘golden goose’? Back then, cosmopolitan and prosperous Hong Kong was seen as China’s vital gateway to the outside world – and many believed it would stay that way for years to come. Fast forward 20 years, and it is no longer the only jewel in China’s crown, with cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangdong becoming financial or manufacturing powerhouses. “Hong Kong was the golden goose in China,” said politician Martin Lee. “I couldn’t have thought that China’s economy would develop so quickly… and Hong Kong’s bargaining power would diminish so fast.” Many also did not envision Hong Kong ending up as “a paradise for money laundering and capital outflow” for the mainland, said financial analyst Agnes Wu. In recent years Chinese tycoons have sought to park their assets, businesses and even themselves within the city amid a corruption crackdown in Beijing – something which the Chinese government has frowned upon. Would…