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The future is a foreign country

Hong Kong's future will be Chinese, but what will be the residual influence of British traditions? As 1997 approaches, it remains unclear how much political and economic autonomy Beijing will tolerate. Ending the impasse between Britain and China could have some benefits, but lasting prosperity requires that Hong Kong retain its cosmopolitan spirit, says Philip Bowring

By Philip Bowring   October 1995

Hong Kong has little time for history. That is perhaps just as well. Historic buildings get in the way of developers’ profits. History books remind the Chinese that this city semi-state was born out of China’s humiliation by western imperialism.

But a sense of history must be the starting point for any soothsaying about 1997 and beyond. Will this date signal the end of something remarkable? Or a new beginning for what will be one of the world’s greatest cities for centuries to come? Will this date, etched in the consciousness of Hong Kong as surely as 1066 is a…

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