This city is between a rock and a hard place. Its separate identity and unique commercial advantages are in danger of being slowly squeezed between the ambitions of neighboring Shenzhen and Taiwan.
These twin threats are less obvious than the more talked about ones – losing business in China to a rampant Shanghai and business overseas to clean, English-speaking Singapore. But they are more serious because they could strike at the most basic qualities of this former colony, now a Special Administrative Region of China: its geography, unique freedoms and administrative characteristics.
This does not necessarily spell doom, but meeting the threats will require less compromised leadership than that which is provided by Hong Kong’s chief executive, the lifelong civil servant and former British favorite Donald Tsang, who often appears to be focused on proving his patriotism by emphasizing ever-closer ties with the mainland. As a recent visit by the Chinese vice president, Xi Jinping, demonstrated, Tsang appears like a scolded schoolboy in front of Beijing leaders. He is not helped by a business elite that has limited international involvement, closely guards its entrenched interests in local real estate and construction, and looks to curry favor on the mainland.