Politicians and decolonization of Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 22 - Publication in policy or professional journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-34
Journal / PublicationEast Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996


This article discusses the nature of political leadership in Hong Kong in general and the dilemmas facing politicians in the process of decolonization in particular. The politicians are certainly not performing "public service" as in a colonial administration. They are competing for political power and control in the government during the transition of Hong Kong from a British colony to a Chinese Special Administrative Region. Some politicians adopt a mobilization style of leadership to draw public support; some maintain an elitist style to preserve the status quo; some use a confrontational style to push for a democratic government and to resist Chinese intervention in the internal affairs of Hong Kong; some take a cooperative and compromising approach in resolving conflicts and dealing with China; and some attempt to adopt a moderate style by emphasizing rational and workable solutions to political dilemmas. The dilemmas of transition include: (1) the choice between democracy and conservatism; (2) the proper relationship between Hong Kong and China after 1997; (3) the conflict as to whom the politicians represent: the Hong Kong people or the Chinese leaders. The choice of any two polarized positions in the dilemmas will result in devastating consequences for Hong Kong. The task of the politicians is therefore to balance, rather than to accentuate, the divergent tensions between the antagonistic political forces. In the final analysis, the politicians will have to play the role of balancer between the future sovereign master and various political actors.

Citation Format(s)

Politicians and decolonization of Hong Kong. / Lam, Jermain T. M.
In: East Asia, Vol. 15, No. 1, 03.1996, p. 20-34.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 22 - Publication in policy or professional journal