China and America have begun the fraught business of disentangling their financial systems. Chinese firms with shares listed in New York have rushed to float in Hong Kong, too, after the White House signalled they are not welcome on Wall Street. The latest is NetEase, a Chinese gaming firm that began a $3bn listing this week. But now Hong Kong itself, the world’s third-biggest international financial centre, has become a geopolitical flashpoint. Its unique role as the conduit between global capital markets and China’s inward-looking financial system means that both sides must tread carefully.
On May 28th China said it would enact a new national-security law for Hong Kong, undermining the formulation of “one country, two systems” in place since 1997, under which the territory is supposed to be governed until 2047. In response, America has said it may downgrade the legal privileges it grants Hong Kong, which treat it as autonomous from China. Britain, the former colonial power, has said that freedoms are being curtailed and that it could make it easier for up 3m Hong Kongers to go there to live and work and eventually win citizenship—a welcome, if still sketchy, gesture (see article).
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