The Hong Kong government hailed a report which named the city the world’s freest economy, based on 2018 data. However, it rejected remarks that a “weakening of the rule of law Could undermine the city’s future ratings.
The semi-autonomous region ranked first in the 2020 annual report on global economic freedom released Thursday by the Canadian think tank Fraser Institute, followed by Singapore and New Zealand.
The study showed that Hong Kong was considered the most favorable country for economic freedom in the world in 2018 – with a score of 8.94 out of 10. The researchers said their findings were based on statistics from ‘two years ago.
The institute said the 2020 report did not take into account the impact of last year’s protests against Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill and the “sometimes brutal crackdown” that followed. It also failed to take into account the effects of Beijing’s national security law, which the researchers said would negatively impact the city’s ranking in future reports.
“The apparent heightened insecurity of property rights and weakened rule of law caused by Chinese government interventions in 2019 and 2020 will likely have a negative impact on Hong Kong’s score,” the report said.
The study measured the degree of economic freedom by assessing five areas, including the size of government and tax-controlled businesses, the legal system and property rights, and the freedom to trade internationally.
The government welcomed the report on Thursday, saying it was “unambiguous recognition” of the city’s long-standing and steadfast commitment to building a free economy. But officials rejected the Vancouver-based institute’s remarks that Hong Kong’s ranking could slip due to what they saw as a decline in the city’s rule of law.
“It is with regret that the Fraser Institute anticipates declining future scores in this area with biased comments and unfair speculation based on unfounded selective views,” a government spokesperson said in a statement. .
The government has also defended the enactment of security legislation that prohibits secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces, and interference with transportation and other infrastructure. He said the law was vital to getting the city back on track and preserving its long-term prosperity and stability.
The Fraser Institute, which works closely with the so-called libertarian Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong to promote economic freedom, was part of a group of international think tanks from 35 countries and regions that writing an open letter in early July to condemn the adoption of radical security legislation.
The signatories accused Beijing of attacking the Basic Law and crushing the city’s freedoms: âWe stand with the people of Hong Kong as they try to protect their freedoms and rights and believe that a strong global response is essential. “
A questionnaire released by the US Chamber of Commerce in mid-July found that nearly 40% of its members polled were “extremely concerned” about the national security law. Some respondents said the legislation raised questions about the city’s status as an international business center, while respondents were equally divided in terms of exit strategies.