HONG KONG FACE-OFF

AS THE HAND-OVER MOVES CLOSER, C.H. TUNG AND MARTIN LEE GET READY FOR POLITICAL COMBAT

In Imperial China, the royal physician was forbidden to touch the Emperor directly. A princeling would attach a long red thread to the Emperor's wrist, and the physician would grasp the thread, feeling the Emperor's pulse at a respectful distance. Governing Hong Kong after it reverts to Chinese sovereignty at midnight on June 30 will require the same exquisitely sensitive touch: an ability to understand Beijing from a distance, to sense what its leaders want and what they will tolerate.

Officially, the physician's red thread has been given to Tung Chee-hwa, a Hong Kong multimillionaire who lived for nine years in...

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