China’s Hong Kong Transformed—Retrospect and Prospects Beyond the First Decade

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The impressive array of penetrating analysis and provocative interpretations afforded by this volume’s 14 chapters sharpen appreciation of the ongoing transformations of China’s Hong Kong since 1997 and the possibilities embedded in its journey toward an integrative merger-convergence with the Mainland by 2047. A unique strength of this volume lies with the wide ranging views and divergent assessments offered by the chapter authors of different nationalities, varied experience, diverse academic/professional disciplines, and of competing ideo-political persuasions. Ten of them are leading academics (economist, historian, legalist, media scholar, political scientist, sociologist) well-published on Hong Kong topics while seven are seasoned practitioners on the cutting edge of Hong Kong’s development (as HKSAR official, legislator, Basic Law Committee member, business leader, think-tank expert, journalist
Pub. Date
Oct 1, 2008
362 pages
185 x 260 mm

Hong Kong’s Role in Transforming China

Professor Anthony Cheung
Member of the HKSAR Executive Council,
President, The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Throughout Hong Kong’s transitional period – from the signing of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Dec

Hong Kong’s Role in Transforming China

Professor Anthony Cheung
Member of the HKSAR Executive Council,
President, The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Throughout Hong Kong’s transitional period – from the signing of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration until its reversion to China’s sovereignty on July 1, 1997 – the dominant discourse on its future had been whether and to what extent Hong Kong might change, or in most critics’ mind, regress after the handover. The worst fear in those days was that Hong Kong might be subject to a process of “mainlandization” so that it would become no more than another tame Chinese city under strict communist control. All efforts were devoted to prevent that from happening. By endorsing a “One Country, Two Systems” framework China was keen to dispel such fears and reassure Hong Kong and the international community that the city would not be absorbed into the mainland system; instead it would be allowed to thrive as a free capitalist enclave closely aligned to the global economic order led by developed Western nations.

The separation of the “two systems” – mainland socialism and Hong Kong capitalism – was to be a real one, almost to the point of mutual exclusion. Chinese leaders, too, worried that their socialism would get eroded by fully integrating what Milton Friedman once described as the last bastion of classical capitalism. Separation served the purposes of both sides. The Chinese Central Government would retain the ultimate sovereign authority over the new Special Administrative Region (SAR), but would otherwise leave its political, administrative, legal, judicial and economic life untouched, provided Hong Kong would not pose as a threat to the mainland. The underlying tone then was: “you go your own way, and we go ours,” such message being amplified in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown on democracy in 1989, when mainland authorities accused Hong Kong of turning into a base of subversion, warning that “the well water must not interfere with the river water.” Hong Kong people were shocked by the Tiananmen crackdown. Confidence plummeted. It seemed all the more necessary to them to keep Hong Kong as a self-sufficient economy and polity, and to have as little to do with the mainland as possible.

More than a decade after the handover, while mutual political suspicions have remained high, the big scene is a far cry from the uncertain 1980s and 1990s. Hong Kong’s basic freedoms are as vibrant as before, at least according to various public opinion polls. Public confidence in the Central Government and the People’s Liberation Army garrison has moved up steadily from low ebbs. Even foreign pessimists like the Fortune magazine, which predicted “the death of Hong Kong” on the eve of the handover, has to admit that they were wrong: business is booming as before. However there are undercurrents of insecurity, and worries about the threat of ‘marginalization’ by the mainland as big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjian, Guangzhou and Shenzhen all seek to catch up and even surpass Hong Kong. The past decade saw the rapid rise of China. There is wide recognition of China’s ever-expanding economic strength and global influence. Business and professional sectors now hurry to take advantage of this China boom. The sense of boundary between the HKSAR and mainland is being transformed – it was known as “the border” before the handover. Economic, social and cultural intermingling intensified. Increasing droves of students, professionals, business people and visitors move in both ways. Inter-marriages are becoming common. The previous precept of mutual exclusion no longer fit the evolving reality. Hong Kong now rises and falls with China.

Preface by Anthony B. L. CHEUNG
1.   Transforming China’s Hong Kong: Toward 2047 Merger-Convergence?
      —Ming K. CHAN

Part I. The Political Matrix
2.   The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region: Ten Years Later
      —Sin-por SHIU
3.   Democratization of the Hong Kong SAR: A Pro-democracy View
      —Margaret NG
4.   What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Hong Kong
      —Ronnie C. CHAN
5.   Two Systems Becoming One: The 2047 Timetable
      —Suzanne PEPPER

Part II. The Legal-Constitutional Dimensions
6.   A Decade of Hong Kong Basic Law Actualization
      —Zhenmin WANG
7.   The Rule of Law and Economic Development in the Hong Kong SAR
      —Douglas W. ARNER & Berry F. C. HSU

Part III. The Economic and Social Dynamics
8.   The HK Economy Since Reversion
      —Yun-wing SUNG
9.   New Generation, Greening Politics and Growing Civil Society
      —Yan-yan YIP & Christine LOH
10. Social Conflict in Hong Kong after 1997: The Emergence of a Post-modern Mode of Social Movements?
      —Alvin Y. SO
11. Post-1997 Hong Kong Media: A Decade of Change

Ming K. CHAN Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University