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Matthew Brooker

The Twilight of Hong Kong’s Independent Judiciary

The city’s legacy of British-style justice is likely to be replaced by China’s unitary system where judge, legislator and bureaucrat are all on the same side.

Pro-democracy demonstrators outside a Hong Kong courthouse.

Pro-democracy demonstrators outside a Hong Kong courthouse.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

There was a plaintive tone to the Hong Kong government’s statement on its removal from the Heritage Foundation’s ranking of the world’s freest economies. A spokesman expressed “deep disappointment and serious dismay” at being dumped from a list the city had dominated for 25 out of the past 27 years.

It’s an accolade of doubtful significance, bestowed by a conservative U.S. think-tank that attaches more importance to low taxes and freedom from accountability for corporations than economic liberty for all. But that’s by the by. Officials have made Hong Kong’s place on the index a badge of pride, reveling in what they see as validation of the city’s status as an international financial center and their stewardship of its administration.