American dominance is bound to wither as Asia’s confidence grows
In President Bush’s inauguration speech, he pledged to support “the expansion of freedom in all the world”, deploying the words free or freedom no less than 25 times in 20 short minutes. The neoconservative strategy is quite explicit: to bend the world to America’s will; to reshape it according to the interests of a born-again superpower. There is something more than a little chilling about this. Even though the Iraqi occupation has gone seriously awry, the United States still does not recognise the constraints on its own power and ambition.
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Five years ago Martin Jacques and his family moved to Hong Kong to start a new life which all too soon ended in tragedy. Finally, an anti-racist law that might have saved his wife’s life is to be introduced
Hong Kong has been shaken over the past few months by a series of crises: the Sars epidemic, continuing economic difficulties and huge opposition to new security legislation. No doubt Tony Blair, during his brief visit last week, will have discussed each of these, together with another, less-publicised affair: the long-running debate about the need for anti-racist legislation.
When my wife Hari and I arrived in Hong Kong on November 2, 1998, accompanied by our little boy Ravi, just nine weeks old, we were borne on a wave of optimism and expectation. We planned to spend three years in Hong Kong: Hari working for her international law firm, me to write a book and make a television series. It was familiar territory to us: our relationship had started there during a whirlwind week back in 1993.
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Once people risked all to get in – now they are queueing up to escape. Hard times in Hong Kong have made China the new Mecca
For days and days it had rained, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the millions of Hong Kongers, and hundreds of thousands of tourists, who came to witness the handover of Hong Kong to China. It was June 30, 1997, and the British laid on a firework display to remember as Chris Patten, the last governor, boarded the royal yacht Britannia and made his exit. The next night the Chinese staged an even more stunning display across the water that divides Hong Kong island from the Kowloon side. Hong Kong was engulfed in optimism – on June 30 about the past, and on July 1 about its future. The only doubt that lingered, along with the whiff of gunpowder, was what the Chinese might do with their new possession.
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