Hong Kong in 1997

It is impossible to properly evaluate media developments in Hong Kong without contemplating the uncertain conditions for 1997, when China officially takes over the British Crown Colony.

Opinions differ about what will happen July 1,1997; the question is whether or not the Chinese will permit the 7 million local residents – a vast majority of whom are of Chinese origin – a certain degree of self-government.

Among those who believe there will be no significant change when the takeover occurs is Robert Chua, the Hong Kong TV entrepreneur, who last December began test transmissions of his new China Entertainment Television in Mandarin to China.

“Not much will change, Chua says. “Hong Kong is important to China but Hong Kong will be successfully integrated into greater China.”

Chua is in a unique position since he has a wide number of contacts among government officials in China. In 1993, he was the only Hong Kong resident appointed “honorary adviser” to Shanghai Radio and Television.

There is another group which takes the view that China, for political reasons, will go slow in dismantling Hong Kong and its democratic institutions. These people say the Beijing government is eager to prove to Taiwan that it has nothing to fear from a unification with the mainland.

And, finally, there is a sector which argues that Chinese ideologues couldn’t care less about maintaining Hong Kong’s institutions, and that they will stop short of nothing to completely integrate Hong Kong into the Chinese Communist system.

As one writer puts it, “China only tolerates Hong Kong’s existence because it acts as a convenient foreign exchange window to the outer world.”

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