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Solutions will elude Hong Kong's new government

Monday, July 10, 2017

Subject

The outlook for Hong Kong politics.

Significance

Carrie Lam was sworn in as Hong Kong's chief executive, the city's highest executive officer, on July 1, also the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese sovereignty, an anniversary marked by a visit by President Xi Jinping -- and fervent public protests. Lam replaces the deeply unpopular Leung Chung-ying. Due to the failure of an electoral reform attempt in 2014, she was elected not by universal suffrage but, like her predecessors, by a 1,200-member election committee drawn largely from Hong Kong's pro-business, pro-China 'establishment'.

Impacts

  • Lam will be unable to move quickly on national security legislation or national education due to political and public opposition.
  • The Chinese foreign ministry's apparent brush-off of the China-UK handover treaty will have little practical effect.
  • Lam will make efforts to address housing unaffordability, though a comprehensive solution looks unlikely.
  • Unresolved grievances over housing and the electoral system will drive a brain drain that erodes Hong Kong's economy and institutions.
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