The Canadian-based research group said Hong Kong took the top spot but warned that it was in danger of losing the position.
“While Hong Kong remains the most economically-free jurisdiction in the world, interference from China – including the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests – severely threatens Hong Kong’s rule of law, which helps ensure equal freedom for all, and endangers Hong Kong’s top position,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute.
A Hong Kong government spokesman said the Fraser Institute’s comments were “entirely ungrounded and not borne out by objective facts”.
“Since China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, the HKSAR has been exercising ‘Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong’ and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law,” he said.
“The ‘one country, two systems’ principle has been fully and successfully implemented. Human rights and freedom in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation,” he added.
The spokesman said the rule of law and judicial independence are constitutionally protected in the SAR, as are the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, including the freedom of speech and the right of peaceful assembly, which are routinely exercised by them.
“Regrettably recent events have seen protesters deviating from peaceful means by resorting to escalating violence, which necessitated the lawful use of reasonable force by the Hong Kong Police Force to maintain law and order,” the spokesman said.
Rounding out the top 10 were Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Mauritius.
The report measures the economic freedom – the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions – by analysing the policies and institutions of 162 countries and territories.
These include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, legal system and property rights, and government spending and taxation.
Last updated: 2019-09-12 HKT 23:50