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Kid gloves come off 20 years after Hong Kong handover

A far more powerful Beijing sees less of a need for special treatment

Over a century and a half of British rule, Hong Kong developed into a critical gateway between China and the world. Now, two decades after the territory was handed back to China, the gateway is not nearly as essential -- at least from Beijing's perspective. China's breakneck economic growth has changed the game and raised some uncomfortable questions for the "Pearl of the Orient."

HONG KONG In 1997, the year of the British handover, the gross domestic product of Hong Kong alone was equivalent to 18% of China's total. Last year, the ratio was less than 3%.

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