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Political Development in Hong Kong

State, Political Society, and Civil Society

Ngok Ma

Publication Year: 2007

This book reviews the political development of Hong Kong before and after 1997, in particular the evolution of state-society relations in the last two decades, to analyze the slow development of democracy and governance crisis of Hong Kong after 1997.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

THE IDEA OF WRITING THIS book started on December 13, 2001. On that day, Tung Chee-hwa announced his bid to run for a second term of five years for the post of Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In the Convention Center Auditorium, packed with business tycoons, selected social leaders and pro-Beijing elites, his campaign speech was frequently interrupted...

Acronyms and Abbreviations

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pp. ix-xii

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Chapter One Political Development in Hong Kong

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pp. 1-14

THIS BOOK IS A STUDY on the political development of Hong Kong in the last two decades, with special emphasis on the development after the sovereignty handover in 1997. To many Hong Kong people, the performance of the Hong Kong government went downhill after Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China after 1997. Many local scholars described post-1997 ...

PART A - The State

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Chapter Two. The Nature of the Colonial State

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pp. 17-32

THERE HAVE BEEN CONTRASTING IMAGES about the nature of the colonial state, the most well-known being Hong Kong as a minimalist laissez-faire state. Scholars differed on the extent to which the Hong Kong state was really non-interventionist,but it was clear that social and political changes since the 1980s had rendered the “minimalist state” formulation inadequate for understanding the current...

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Chapter Three. Passages to the Post-Colonial State

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pp. 33-56

THE POLITICAL TRANSITION THAT STARTED in 1984 led to a fundamental change in the political landscape of Hong Kong. On the one hand, the Chinese government tried to build its corps of post-1997 ruling elites by a united front strategy. On the other hand, gradual democratization enabled elected representatives and grassroots political groups to challenge for public power via competitive elections....

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Chapter Four. The Post-Colonial State

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pp. 57-92

DEVELOPMENTS IN HONG KONG AFTER 1997 showed that an autocratic state is not necessarily strong, as the institutional logic of executive dominance enshrined in the Basic Law has outlived its usefulness in the post-colonial era. While the Basic Law stipulates an executive-dominant system which puts most of the policy-making powers in the hands of the chief executive (CE) and the executive branch,...

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PART B - Political Society and Political Development

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pp. 93-96

...society in a democratizing setting as “the arena in which the polity public power and the state apparatus.” Weigle saw the political society as both a part of civil society and a part of the state. It includes that part of civil society that attempts to influence state power through political organizations (e.g., voters’ associations,...

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Chapter Five. The Legislature

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pp. 97-134

THIS CHAPTER REVIEWS THE EVOLUTION of the functions of Hong Kong’s legislature since the early colonial era, in terms of channeling public opinion, cleavage formation, policy influence, control and oversight, and interest representation.The Legislative Council was an arena of selective co-option before the advent of elections. The inclusion of popularly elected members brought institutional...

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Chapter Six. Political Parties

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pp. 135-158

THE DWARFING OF THE HONG KONG legislature after 1997 went hand in hand with the retrogression of development of political parties. While political parties had acquired a more important role in the Hong Kong polity in 1991–97, their continual development was thwarted by a wide variety of factors after 1997. By 2004, political parties in Hong Kong made up a negligible proportion of the...

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PART C - Civil Society and Democratization

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pp. 159-162

...contemporary social science. The study of civil society, and itspast few decades. Historically the struggle for civil society inprotecting civilian autonomy, and thus vital for democratic society(see Arato, 1981, Keane, 1988). Hence, conceptually, civil societyp. 6). The idea of civil society functioned as a counter-image of...

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Chapter Seven. Encroachments on Civil Society

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pp. 163-198

IF AN AUTONOMOUS AND STRONG civil society can check the arbitrary power of an authoritarian state, in the process of which increasing the likelihood of changing an authoritarian regime, it is inconceivable that the non-democratic governments will not do something against it. It is common for autocrats to restrict civil liberties,deny space for public discussions, and harness media freedom. In this light we...

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Chapter Eight. Civil Society in Self-Defense

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pp. 199-220

THIS CHAPTER TRIES TO SOLVE the puzzle laid out in the introductory section of Part C, namely why the vibrant civil society in Hong Kong has not been able to bring about democracy. An obvious explanation is of course the China factor;that the power imbalance between the party-state of the PRC and Hong Kong civil society was too great to overcome, that facing the omnipotent Chinese party-...

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Chapter Nine. An Institutionalist’s Conclusion

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pp. 221-232

THIS BOOK STARTED WITH THE ambitious goal of explaining the governing crisis of the SAR and the lack of democratic progress in Hong Kong after 1997. This concluding chapter analyzes the plight of SAR governance and of democratic development in Hong Kong, by combining an institutional analysis of SAR politics Part A pointed to the fragmented state institutions of the SAR as a major obstacle ...

Appendix 1. Major Quangos Established since the 1980s 233

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pp. 233-245

Appendix 2. Major Judicial Review Cases, 2002–05

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pp. 246-247

Appendix 3. Examples of Criticisms from the Audit Commission, 1998–2003

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pp. 248-250

Appendix 4. Major Controversial Events Related to Civil Liberties after 1997

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pp. 251-256

Appendix 5. Coalitions, United Fronts, and Alliances, 1998–2004

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pp. 257-268


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pp. 269-280


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pp. 281-300


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pp. 301-305

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052660
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098091

Page Count: 318
Illustrations: 43 tables
Publication Year: 2007