The Leadership of Tung Chee-hwa in His First Year of Governing Hong Kong

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-142
Journal / PublicationIssues and Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


This paper aims to analyze the leadership of the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in his first year of governance after the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China. It is argued that the leadership of Tung Chee-hwa stresses "incremental development" based on the status quo, "reflector model" of governance, "transactional mediation," and "role-determined leadership." Tung firmly sticks to the narrow meaning of the Basic Law and the words of Chinese leaders, being fully aware that his leadership derives from a consultative-legal basis of authority with the consent of Beijing's leaders. In the context of the existing Beijing-Hong Kong power relationship and Tung's conservative political outlook, significant change or innovation in Hong Kong's political system seems unlikely. Yet, it is a matter of doubt whether Tung's leadership can effectively withstand the impact and challenge posed by the adversarial political parties, the quest for more political accountability, and the rising dissatisfaction of the public towards the government's economic and social performance.

Research Area(s)

  • Hong Kong, Incremental change, Leadership, Reflecting model, Role-determined leadership, Transactional mediation