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Alone on the Hill

Virgile Simon Bertrand for TIME

For as long as anyone can remember, the business of Hong Kong has been business. The most succinct reflection of that is the postcolonial title of the territory's head of government. It's not mayor or minister, but Chief Executive. The job description effectively matches the title: maintain a positive balance sheet (deep fiscal reserves), satisfy your major shareholders (domestic and foreign conglomerates and banks), execute top-down management (the Establishment knows best). The formula proved wildly successful for the colonial British, who coupled their administrative skills with the enterprise of the local Chinese to transform a clutch of villages into...

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