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Reviews 95 Warren I. Cohen and Li Zhao, editors. Hong Kong under Chinese Rule: The Economic and Political Implications ofReversion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. viii, 255 pp. Hardcover $59.95, isbn 0-521-62158-5. Paperback $19.95, 1SBN 0-521-62761-3. Judith M. Brown and Rosemary Foot, editors. Hong Kong's Transitions, 1842-1997. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. xiv, 213 pp. Hardcover $59-95> isbn 0-312-17420-9. The 1997 political transition in Hong Kong is such a complex historical phenomenon that it defies simplistic interpretation. The American mass media, however, have in general tended to present a "communist repression" scenario. They emphasize that Hong Kong is a free, capitalist society that respects human rights and the rule oflaw. The Beijing government, however, is seen as an authoritarian communist regime that would not hesitate to use force to repress dissent. The American mass media have frequendy invoked images of the bloodshed ofthe Tiananmen Incident of1989 in their coverage ofthe 1997 event. In such a pessimistic interpretation, the economy and society ofHong Kong will suffer after 1997: die corruption in mainland China will spread to Hong Kong, and Beijing will impose its authoritarian rule, as demonstrated by Beijing's purging ofthe popularly elected legislature there immediately following the handover on July 1, 1997. The American mass media have reported that the people of Hong Kong were very concerned about what transpired in 1997, and a large number ofHong Kong residents have emigrated to Canada, Australia, and the United States. However, the two books reviewed here present views on Hong Kong and 1997 that are somewhat different from what has appeared in the American mass media. The volume edited byWarren Cohen and Li Zhao, based on papers delivered at a workshop organized by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, represents the views ofAmerican social scientists while the offering by Judith Brown and Rosemary Foot, based on papers delivered at a conference at Oxford, represents a "British" point ofview. In HongKong under Chinese Rule, Cohen and Zhao offer a "cautiously optimistic " interpretation of1997. On economic matters, Changqi Wu emphasizes the economic complementarity ofHong Kong and mainland China. Due to the lack ofa well-developed legal system in mainland China, informal structures such as© 1998 by University chinese kinship and other networks are invokedbyHong Kong Chinese to proof awai 1 ressieci ^^ business transactions on the mainland. As a result, mainland China's foreign investment comes mostiy from Hong Kong. Wu suggests that the 1997 re- 96 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. ?, Spring 1998 version will provide Hong Kong with new opportunities to strengthen its economic position on the mainland. In addition, Jacques de Lisle and Kevin Lane point to the formation of an alliance between the Beijing government and the Hong Kong business community. Beijing uses a "carrot and stick" approach to reward its Hong Kong business allies with lucrative contracts and to punish its Hong Kong business opponents—and it also constantly reminds Hong Kong's business community that the economy-focused rule of law that they require will be provided after 1997. Consequently, the business community is confident of the economic future ofHong Kong after 1997, while it is also highly critical of Governor Patten's democratic proposals, because the latter would politicize the society and expand welfare spending. Joseph Cheng, in his chapter, cites polls to show that by the mid-1990s, support for Governor Patten's reforms has declined and confidence has grown among the people of Hong Kong that the transfer of power that took place on July 1, 1997, poses little threat to them. Cheng concludes that the people ofHong Kong have lowered their expectations for the future and will give Beijing the benefit of the doubt for now. Ronald Montaperto views the presence of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong as merely symbolic. He insists that control of Hong Kong will not have a major influence on China's military position in the region; Hong Kong's facilities will not increase the PLA's ability to concentrate its forces in any of the areas of greatest concern to the Chinese leaders. He also suggests that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 95-98
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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