Hong Kong’s “South China Morning Post” reported Thursday that Hong Kong has been removed from the Heritage Foundation’s list of the world’s most free economies after the city with special status was classified under China for the first time this year.
The city-state topped the ranking for 25 years, until last year, when Singapore pushed it off the edge.
With the move, those in charge of the list released on Thursday wanted to express that Beijing wields “full authority” over the city. Besides Hong Kong, Macau was also listed below China this year for the first time.
This year, the index only measures the economic freedom of independent states whose governments exercise sovereign control over economic policy, the think tank writes. According to the Heritage Foundation, while residents of Hong Kong and Macau have enjoyed the effects of policies that provide greater economic freedom than mainland China, developments in recent years have made clear that Beijing has ultimate control over these policies.
China ranked 107th out of 184 economies this year, just behind Uganda among the “Mostly Not Free” economies. This year’s Hong Kong index was described as “not available”. Singapore leads the way for the second time this year, followed by New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Ireland. In the ranking, the researchers focused on 12 areas: real estate law, government integrity, judicial efficiency, government spending, tax burdens, financial stability, freedom of doing business and work, monetary policy, trade, investment and financial freedom.
Hong Kong lost its place at the top of the rankings in 2020 after months of anti-government protests that swept the city in 2019. In response to the situation, Beijing approved a new Hong Kong National Security Act last June that prohibits, among other things, separatist activities and sabotage. And terrorism and collusion with foreign countries or external elements to threaten national security, and in some cases to allow the extradition of suspects to China. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have criticized the law as well as some foreign governments for severely undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms, as China promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy under the former British colonial city on the basis of “one country, two systems”. Fifty years after his return to the motherland in 1997, MTI wrote.