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China struggles with Hong Kong dilemma

For Beijing, 'one country' is more important than 'two systems'

| China
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Hong Kong has prospered over the past 20 years, but political and social tensions are brewing.   © Reuters

When China commemorates the 20th anniversary of the return of the former British colony to Chinese rule on July 1, Beijing will undoubtedly declare that, contrary to dire predictions, Hong Kong has thrived, and that the "one country, two systems" model designed by Deng Xiaoping, China's late paramount leader, has been a resounding success.

But the Chinese government and its hand-picked leaders in Hong Kong will have a hard time convincing the people of Hong Kong that they have delivered on their promises of protecting the territory's autonomy and respecting its people's desire for more democracy. To be sure, the extreme disaster scenarios have never materialized. Hong Kong remains a prosperous commercial hub, with its independent courts and financial system. Its population has grown by 800,000 to 7.3 million while its per capita income, unadjusted for inflation, has risen from $27,000 to about $42,500.

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