Economic prosperity or democracy : Dilemma of development in Hong Kong and China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-485
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1997


After Hong Kong is integrated with mainland China in July 1997, the economic and political environments of the two places will inevitably link up with each other. Economic modernization significantly not only improves the living conditions of the Chinese, but also alters their social structure and political values. As such, economic prosperity and democracy become the two conflicting values in Hong Kong and China during the transition to 2000. The people of Hong Kong and China are presented a choice over two mutually exclusive targets: economic prosperity vs. democracy. On the one hand, the choice for economic prosperity will imply no democracy because a conservative political system will be maintained to preserve the political status quo. On the other hand, the choice for democracy will imply no economic prosperity, because democratization will be suppressed and hence the economy will suffer as a result of political instability. However, neither of these two choices could offer the people of Hong Kong and China a genuine prosperity and stability. Therefore a congruent relationship between the economy and the political system must be established and maintained. As prosperity is contributed by both economic growth and political stability, neglection of either of these Mo elements will not result in a long-lasting prosperity. Thus, economic development and democratization are two complementary rather than contradicting forces on the road to development in China.