Hong Kong protests augur murky outlook for financial hub

HONG KONG (AP) — It’s still the world’s “freest” economy, one of the biggest global financial centers and a scenic haven for tycoons and tourists, but the waves of protests rocking Hong Kong are exposing strains unlikely to dissipate as communist-ruled Beijing’s influence grows.

The end of the former British colony’s 50-year grace period after China took control in 1997 is years away, and the protests have made only a minor dent in day-to-day business. But they point to issues clouding the outlook, as investors and residents fret that the city will lose its Western-style freedoms.

Many in Hong Kong believe their future hinges on keeping the civil liberties, independent courts and other advantages Beijing promised to preserve for at least a half-century after Britain ceded control under an arrangement dubbed “one-country, two systems.”

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