Hong Kong Fears China's Tightening Grip

china-dragon-nki.jpgBeijing, Hong Kong's real landlord, is confusing world business leaders by a new ruling that ostensibly gives it power to choose all of Hong Kong's future political chiefs, beginning in 2017.
The ruling has created a backlash among Hong Kong's 7.2 million residents, retail, industrial and hotel owners, foreign investors and international corporations doing daily business in Hong Kong.
China's commerce, too, would be affected, because, with Hong Kong, Beijing is considered today the second biggest economy after the United States.
The ruling is confusing, critics say, because China already has such dictatorial power.
Since China took over Hong Kong from the British in 1997, the city's chief executive has been selected by an Election Committee based in Beijing but made up of pro-China business executives living in Hong Kong. That way, China is always assured of having a pro-Beijing government in Hong Kong.
But now, China's newest ruling dictates that all candidates running for political office in Hong Kong must first have a strong pro-China belief and background. That includes judges and other city officials who have prided themselves over the years in their objectivity and fairness without paying attention to political correctness.
Previous rulings left the Hong Kong judiciary alone. That alone makes this newest ruling different from previous Chinese mandates.
Until the 1997 handover, Hong Kong was led by a governor appointed by the British government. Great Britain had ruled Hong Kong as a colony under a 100-year ground lease from China.
Beijing, meanwhile, trying to cope with the massive street protests and other social uprisings that have erupted in Hong Kong over the past week, is downplaying its ruling.  China says the wording in its newest ruling is being misunderstood and propagandized by anti-Beijing interests in Hong Kong.
That remains to be seen, however. Right now, Hong Kong's legislature is deadlocked on the election issue. If the new election rules fail to get a two-thirds majority, the city will stick with its current system which calls for the chief executive to be chosen by a committee of pro-Beijing, pro-business delegates.
What makes the Hong Kong political situation so serious at this moment is that it could affect commerce throughout the free world.
Democracy activists are threatening to shut down the city's main business district and boycott schools. If that happens, the business community fears Beijing would send in troops to quell any out-of-control protests.
That would be the start of still another world crisis Washington would have to face, along with the Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan and Israel-Hamas.

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