Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics

Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics: Expanded Second Edition

Lam Wai-man
Percy Luen-tim Lui
Wilson Wong
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 2
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics
    Book Description:

    This expanded and fully revised edition of Contemporary Hong Kong Government and Politics critically assesses the main strands of continuity and change in Hong Kong’s government and politics since the creation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1997. It first investigates the core institutions of the SAR, focusing on the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the civil service, District Councils, and advisory and statutory bodies. It then examines progress in democratic reform in Hong Kong and the main components of civil society, including political parties, elections, political identity, and mass media and public opinion. Analyses of key policy sectors then follow. In its concluding chapters, the volume explores Hong Kong’s relations with the Mainland and the wider world. This book is essential reading for anyone—student, teacher or researcher—interested in Hong Kong’s experience under “one country, two systems”.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-888-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Political Context
    (pp. 1-22)
    Lam Wai-man

    Following China’s military defeat at the hands of Britain in the first and second Opium Wars (1839–42 and 1856–60), Hong Kong was placed under British colonial rule. It was within this context that Hong Kong experienced World War I, World War II, postwar refugee influxes, the embargo on young Communist China in the 1950s, two significant riots in the 1960s, and an economic upswing in the 1970s. By the time of China’s resumption of sovereignty on 1 July 1997, in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong had become one of the world’s leading cities.

    The first...

  6. Part I: Political Institutions
    • [Part I: Introduction]
      (pp. 24-26)

      The first part of this volume examines the political institutions of the HKSAR, including the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, the civil service, and the District Councils, advisory and statutory bodies. To understand the governance and politics of the HKSAR and to anticipate its future development, one must study how these political institutions function, what kinds of problems they have encountered since the establishment of the HKSAR, and the challenges that they are going to encounter in the near future. Part I of this book serves this purpose well.

      In Chapter 2, Li Pang-kwong discusses the scope of activities of...

    • Chapter 2 The Executive
      (pp. 27-44)
      Li Pang-kwong

      With the election of Leung Chun-ying as the fourth chief executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the people of Hong Kong are keen to have a new government with policy visions and leadership. This public expectation is running high because Hong Kong has been suffering from a series of critical and deep-seated socio-economic problems: the polarization of wealth, low social mobility, the subtraction of public (government) services, and so on. The inability of the HKSAR governments to address these problems has its roots in the governing system in general and the institutional design for selecting the...

    • Chapter 3 The Legislature
      (pp. 45-66)
      Percy Luen-tim Lui

      Briefly, a legislature is an institution that represents the people in the governmental process. As direct democracy is not practical in today’s complex and rapidly changing society, people have no choice but to delegate the governing responsibilities to representatives whom they elected openly, freely, and regularly. The functions and powers of the legislature are usually enshrined in a constitutional document or constitutional conventions. In addition to representing the people in the governmental process, legislatures also make laws, control public finance, and monitor the performance of the executive branch.

      This chapter looks in detail at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region...

    • Chapter 4 The Judiciary
      (pp. 67-86)
      Benny Y. T. Tai

      Since the 1997 handover, the Hong Kong judiciary has been caught in a number of controversies that raise hopes, doubts, and challenges about whether it can maintain its independence and other fundamental principles under Chinese sovereignty. The Hong Kong judiciary started its constitutional journey with high hopes to maintain the rule of law and a high degree of autonomy and human rights in Hong Kong. However, the first decade after the handover has been a journey on a tightrope. Sensitive rulings had to be made on various politically divisive issues. From the constitutionality of the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) to...

    • Chapter 5 The Civil Service
      (pp. 87-110)
      Wilson Wong

      The civil service, an important part of all modern governments, plays a particularly important role in politics and governance in Hong Kong (Scott 2005, 2010; Burns 2004; Cheung 1998; Miners 1998). It is not only in charge of policy implementation. Many senior civil servants, particularly administrative officers, are policy-makers with substantial political power and influence. Indeed, the current chief executive (CE), Donald Tsang, and many of the principal officers, were career civil servants and members of the administrative grade. The Hong Kong political system was designed by the British colonial regime to be bureaucrat-dominated. Since the 1997 handover, however, the...

    • Chapter 6 District Councils, Advisory Bodies, and Statutory Bodies
      (pp. 111-132)
      Jermain T. M. Lam

      District Councils, advisory bodies, and statutory bodies in Hong Kong have played a supplementary and supportive role in the governance process. They are created by the government to solicit the views of the public community, to solidify the support of public policies, and to render a smooth administration. They can be perceived as the communication channels to link up the government and the general public. In the words of Karl Deutsch (1966, 1980), District Councils, advisory bodies, and statutory bodies are the “nerves of government” which receive and transmit information from the community to the decision-making black box for policy...

  7. PART II: Mediating Institutions and Political Actors
    • [Part II: Introduction]
      (pp. 134-136)

      The second part of the book examines the features, role, and effectiveness of mediating institutions and political actors in Hong Kong, which include the themes of democratization, political parties and electoral systems, civil society and NGOs, political identity, culture and participation, and mass media and public opinion. As important components of the political process, the mediating institutions and political actors play a significant part in facilitating good governance. Also, they deserve attention in their own right, being part and parcel of politics in contemporary Hong Kong. Together with our previous discussion of the political institutions, Part II sheds light on...

    • Chapter 7 Mobilization and Conflicts over Hong Kong’s Democratic Reform
      (pp. 137-158)
      Sing Ming and Tang Yuen-sum

      Hong Kong, a modern metropolis and an important financial hub for the Asia-Pacific region, has had extraordinary economic accomplishment. In 1987, Hong Kong was classified as a high-income society by the World Bank, with Japan the only other Asian society categorized in the same group. In 1995, Hong Kong’s GDP per capita, as measured by parity purchasing power, ranked the third highest in the world (Sing 2004). Hong Kong’s political development has, however, lagged far behind its economic one. With Beijing’s fear of losing control over Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has made many attempts to block...

    • Chapter 8 Political Parties and Elections
      (pp. 159-178)
      Ma Ngok

      When the Constitutional Development Task Force of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government submitted its Third Report to the Central People’s Government (CPG) in 2004, the underdevelopment of political parties was cited as an unfavourable condition for implementing full democracy in Hong Kong. The political parties in Hong Kong have a short history and are remarkably weak. While parties enjoyed phenomenal growth in 1991–97, its development was stagnant after 1997.Why is that?

      Hong Kong’s electoral experience was also special, albeit short, with unique electoral methods that are not adopted elsewhere. We will examine the major features of...

    • Chapter 9 Civil Society
      (pp. 179-198)
      Elaine Y. M. Chan

      Nowadays, “civil society” has become a common term in the everyday vocabulary of ordinary citizens in Hong Kong. In fact, it is rather hard to imagine that just over ten years ago the term was little used and perhaps unfamiliar to the general public. The term itself gained popularity only around 2003 when Hong Kong, collectively as a society, survived the SARS epidemic and went through much of the political turbulences that were associated with the proposed national security bill and the massive July 1 demonstrations. Looking back at the first ten years of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region...

    • Chapter 10 Political Identity, Culture, and Participation
      (pp. 199-222)
      Lam Wai-man

      Much work has been done by scholars to understand the political identity, culture, and participation of the people of Hong Kong, albeit with divergent interpretations. Conflicting readings on the subject were offered by scholars notably for the period before the 1990s. With regard to the period after the political handover of Hong Kong in 1997, there is a general agreement that the people of Hong Kong have exhibited stronger Chineseness, and political activism is on the surge. This chapter attempts to give an account of the different readings and development on the subject, and to provide an analysis of parallel...

    • Chapter 11 Mass Media and Public Opinion
      (pp. 223-246)
      Joseph M. Chan and Francis L. F. Lee

      Hong Kong is a media-rich society where news outlets proliferate. As far as news and public affairs media are concerned, Hong Kong residents are nowadays served by nearly 20 local daily newspapers, a number of international or regional papers, three radio broadcasters, two free-to-air television broadcasters, and a number of pay-TV services. Some citizens may also take popular weekly magazines, such as Next Magazine and East Week, as sources of public affairs information. The recent decade also witnessed the publication of an increasing number of books about local politics and public affairs targeted at the popular market. In addition, all...

  8. PART III: Policy Environment
    • [Part III: Introduction]
      (pp. 248-250)

      In analyzing the policy environment of Hong Kong, the third part of the book can be taken as “politics in action” as it serves the perfect purpose of illustrating how the political forces in Hong Kong affect the question of “who get what, when, and how” in each policy area, a central concern in political science. It helps to show the important point that politics is not important purely for the sake of politics. It is critical to understand the political landscape and development in Hong Kong because how power is structured, aligned, and constrained has a lot to do...

    • Chapter 12 Economic Policy
      (pp. 251-276)
      Wilson Wong and Raymond Yuen

      Economic policy can be understood broadly as how government manages the overall economy through defining the role, size, and scope of the public sector and structuring its fiscal system, and relatively narrowly as industrial policy, the incentives and strategies targeting specific industries and sectors in the hope of achieving structural changes and substantiated growth of the overall economy. Heritage Foundation, a well-known U.S. think tank in Washington, D.C., has consistently ranked Hong Kong as the freest economy in the world for the past seventeen years in a row ever since the establishment of its index of economic freedom. Milton Friedman...

    • Chapter 13 Changes in Social Policy in Hong Kong since 1997: Old Wine in New Bottles?
      (pp. 277-296)
      Wong Hung

      Many authors define social policy as the action of governments designed to promote welfare (Dorwart 1971; Wilding 2007). Contrary to this positive view, Catherine Jones (1990) treats social policy as an instrument of governments to regulate and manipulate people’s social conditions. Jones defines social policy as “the involvement of government in systematic attempts to regulate and manipulate social conditions and life chances for sections of a given population” (Jones 1990, pp. 3–4). In the context of Hong Kong, the government’s social policy may promote, maintain, or even damage the welfare of certain sections of the population. We need to...

    • Chapter 14 Urban Policy
      (pp. 297-322)
      James Lee

      Many critics have argued that the terrain of “urban policy” is so vast that anything that concerns public policy within the city could be regarded as urban policy. Since it embraces many things and straddles many disciplinary boundaries (for example, public administration, urban geography, and the many specialized policy areas such as education, welfare, transport, and housing), it is doubtful whether there should be a separate discipline on urban policy. However, it is exactly this claim with which this chapter strongly disagrees. At the beginning of the last century, no more than 7% of the world’s population could reasonably be...

  9. PART IV: Political Environment
    • Chapter 15 The Changing Relations between Hong Kong and the Mainland since 2003
      (pp. 325-348)
      Peter T. Y. Cheung

      The Central People’s Government (CPG) adopted a relatively “hands-off” approach in Hong Kong affairs in the early period after reunification, but Hong Kong’s political crisis triggered by the protest against the national security legislation in 2003 precipitated a reorientation of central policies. The CPG responded to the unexpected political crisis in Hong Kong by adopting an active strategy in shaping its economic and political development. This chapter examines the evolving political relations between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the CPG since 2003. The first part of the chapter provides a brief overview of the changing political context...

    • Chapter 16 Hong Kong and the World
      (pp. 349-370)
      Ting Wai and Ellen Lai

      Despite the vicissitudes of its transition from a British Crown colony to a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong remains an international city where Western nations, especially the Western triad (United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU)), as well as China, possess strong vested interests. This is the reason why the Hong Kong SAR government has baptized Hong Kong “Asia’s world city”. From the perspective of international relations and geopolitics, Hong Kong has always been considered part of the West. That is to say, the capitalist enclave serves first of all Western...

  10. Conclusion: Looking to the Future
    (pp. 371-380)

    As Hong Kong enters the second decade after the return of its sovereignty to China, this book has attempted to provide an updated, comprehensive, and critical analysis of the development of its governing institutions, major policy areas, and relationship with China and the world, in the context of governance and the experiment of “one country, two systems”. Along with this attempt, topics related to political parties and the electoral systems, the mass media and public opinion, political culture and identity, and civil society in Hong Kong were also examined with regard to how successful they have worked in promoting a...

  11. Index
    (pp. 381-400)