Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-195
Journal / PublicationAmerican Asian Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


New political structures and styles have been instituted in Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China since the handover in July 1997, under the principle of "one country, two systems." Although continuity and stability are stressed in the historic documents of the 1984 Joint Declaration and the 1990 Basic Law, many changes in the political systems before and after the change of sovereignty occurred. These changes included the selection of a new Chief Executive by a Chinese-appointed Selection Committee to replace the British-appointed Governor, the appointment of a provisional legislature to replace the prehandover elected legislature, implementation of a proportional representation system to replace the majority system to elect the first SAR Legislative Council, the reduction of the size of eligible functional constituency voters from 2.7 million in 1995 to 233,739 in 1998, the reintroduction of appointed membership into the district councils (formerly known as district boards), declaration of certain provisions of the 1991 Bill of Rights as void, amendment of the Security Ordinance to empower the police to disapprove demonstrations, amendment of the Societies Ordinance to allow the Government to reject an application of a society to register, implementation of civil service reforms, and the invitation of the National People's Congress of China to reinterpret the Basic Law and to overrule the decision of the Court of Final Appeal in the right of abode matter.

Because all of these changes were made soon after Hong Kong became a Chinese SAR, there are concerns whether democracy in Hong Kong has been diminished; whether the Hong Kong Government can sustain its legitimacy by retaining the political confidence of the people; and whether Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as enshrined in the Basic Law. This essay aims to analyze the development of democracy and the political problems of governance in Hong Kong after the transfer of sovereignty in the context of the current conservative and pro-China political environment.