The reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in June 1997 marked the reunification of the old Chinese empire as a new world economic superpower. Since the early 1980s, investment money has poured into China from Hong Kong and trade has been escalating dramatically. A few years later the same pattern began with China and Taiwan. The combination of Hong Kong/Taiwan management and financial know-how and China's inexhaustible pool of cheap labour has enabled China to leap from impoverished revolutionary state to major world trading power. But when China reclaimed Hong Kong, it inherited a political city-state with democratic structures. This text explores whether China will become the first totally post-political "corporatist" super-power, while making itself impermeable to the "spiritual pollution" of outside democratic values, human rights values, and political freedom.
Willem van Kemenade was born in the Netherlands in 1943. He studied history at Nijmegen University and Chinese studies in Taiwan and at Leiden University. Since 1977 he has been based in Peking, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Taiwan as a freelance journalist and correspondent for a major Dutch newspaper, NRC HANDELSBLAD (Dutch equivalent of WALL STREET JOURNAL).