Hong Kong and the Future of Freedom
For most of the six years since its return to Chinese control in 1997 under the rubric of “One Country, Two Systems,” Hong Kong has served as perhaps the single most important piece of evidence for three fundamental assumptions underlying our policy toward the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The first of these is that the government in Beijing is not so much ideological as pragmatic and flexible: hence its willingness to grant at least a semblance of self-government to Hong Kong, now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic. The second is that the liberality displayed toward Hong Kong is a signal of the longer-term course that the Beijing leadership has set for China as a whole: toward more openness and increased political as well as economic freedom. The final assumption is that the reasonableness Beijing has demonstrated in Hong Kong will eventually persuade the people of Taiwan to adopt a similar model, and enter China at no cost to their democracy or freedom but with great benefit to the trust and cordiality of the relationship between Beijing and Washington.
About the Author
Arthur Waldron is the Lauder professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania and vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, D.C.