Last month, Hong Kong was reported to be the world’s most developed financial market by the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization.  The responsive business environment and financial stability most industries found in this special administrative region of China, along with its efficiency, size of banking, and other financial services catapulted Hong Kong to the top, surpassing the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.  The rise of Hong Kong has been attributed to non-banking services, like IPOs and insurance, which offer long-term yields rather than the shortsighted investments that Western financial markets tend to favor.

Hong Kong further proves itself a major financial hub by being named world’s freest economy, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute.  The country rankings are dependent on ten different categories including rule of law, regulatory efficiency, the size of government in the private sector and open markets.

But the city’s support of low tax rates, lack of trade tariffs, thriving financial markets, and small government have recently come under much contention as the income disparity continuously increases.  Massive protests pressured the government into introducing a minimum wage law while also increasing subsidized housing.

Pressing issues such as these have been major topics of debate in the upcoming March election for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.  The front-runners have all promised to tackle poverty, moving away from the laissez-faire economic mentality without compromising the state’s free enterprise economy.

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