Information Anxiety

Officially, China promises freedom of the press. But there are already troubling signs that Beijing won't be able to keep its hands off the media

Meet Lee, a successful Hong Kong fund manager known for his outspoken views. Willing to bad-mouth China and its shaggy corporations, he has been a darling of the Hong Kong press. Until recently, that is. Early this year, he went silent, saying that friends in the industry had warned him that speaking out could cause trouble. They pointed to the sacking of one Hong Kong analyst who had written a critical report on China Eastern Airlines before its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. An Internet-adept news junkie, Lee fears Hong Kong could be headed for Singapore-like controls on information. "Chinese leaders are control freaks," he says. "If, as some have suggested, economic growth numbers are state secrets, who among us will have the courage to make predictions?"

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