Hong Kong is the freest place in the world thanks to rule of law inherited from the British, according to the Human Freedom Index.
The ranking by the Cato Institute, a think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., gave Hong Kong a score of 9.04 out of 10, citing data from 2012, the latest year for which figures are available.
Switzerland comes in second at 8.8, followed by Finland (8.63), Denmark (8.62), New Zealand (8.61), Canada (8.6), Australia (8.55), Ireland (8.54), Britain (8.51) and Sweden (8.5).
The United States (8.26) is ranked No. 20 while Taiwan (8.22) is No. 24 and Singapore (7.79) is No. 43. China (5.86) ranks 132.
Hong Kong tops the list mainly due to economic freedom, not personal freedom.
The Economic Freedom Index gave Hong Kong a top score of 8.98, ahead of Singapore (8.54), New Zealand (8.25), Switzerland (8.19) and Mauritius (8.09).
All top 10 countries in the Personal Freedom Index are from Europe.
These are Denmark (9.58), Sweden (9.53), Norway (9.43), Austria (9.42), Finland (9.42), Switzerland (9.4), Iceland (9.37), Netherlands (9.34), Luxembourg (9.34) and Germany (9.34).
Hong Kong (9.09) is ranked No. 18 for personal freedom while Taiwan (8.73) is No. 29 and the US (8.71) is No. 31. Singapore (7.05) is No. 75 while China (5.33) is No. 135.
“Hong Kong is unique in that it long enjoyed high levels not only of economic freedom but also of personal liberty and income without transitioning to democracy,” according to the Cato Institute report published on Monday in the US.
Hong Kong’s close adherence to the policies and institutions it inherited from the British, including rule of law, explains the stability of its system until recently displayed, it said.
However, the think tank expects a decline in Hong Kong’s freedom ratings due to intensifying interference by Beijing if data in the past few years are taken into account.
“The 2014 pro-democracy protests represent a political agenda not acceptable to Beijing and are a reaction to interference and perceived interference by mainland China in Hong Kong’s policies and institutions including infringements on freedom of the press and the independence of the legal system,” it said.
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