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COUNTRY VIEW FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT OVERVIEW Hong Kong is gearing up for the Legislative Council Legco election that will be held on September 12th Pro-democracy politicians are likely to do well in the election making life even more uncomfortable for the unpopular chief executive Tung Chee-hwa Very strong second-quarter figures mean that GDP is likely to expand by 74 in 2004 and by 47 in 2005 Positive consumer price inflation has returned to Hong Kong although consumer prices will still fall by 02 in annual average terms this year before rising by 04 in 2005 The current-account surplus will fall from US162bn 103 of GDP in 2003 to US136bn 84 of GDP in 2005 DOMESTIC POLITICS On September 12th 2004 Hong Kong residents will cast their votes for a new Legco directly elected seats will account for only one-half of the chamber The election follows a year that has seen an unprecedented level of political activism in Hong Kong characterised by an increase in pro-democracy and anti-government sentiment in the territory The standing committee of the National Peoples Congress Chinas legislature has already handed down an interpretation of Hong Kongs Basic Law mini-constitution ruling out both universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kongs next chief executive in 2007 and an expansion in the ratio of directly elected seats in the 2008 Legco election However this has failed to dampen demands for reform In a sign that feelings still run high organisers claimed that 82000 people attended this years candle-lit vigil in memory of the June 4th 1989 massacre in the Chinese capital Beijing up from the usual attendance of 40000-50000 More significantly still on July 1st between 200000 according to the police and 500000 estimated by organisers people joined a pro-democracy march--not far short of the 500000-700000 who took part in the seminal protest a year earlier INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Under the Basic Law defence and foreign affairs are
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