Senior officials' corruption-related malpractice in Hong Kong after 1997


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Li LI


Awarding Institution
Award date15 Jul 2014


Corruption should not be regarded merely as a crime. Corruption is a form of social censure that reflects complex politico-economic and social phenomena. In Hong Kong, a new form of corruption has been created by conflicts of interest among senior officials. This study used social censure theory to examine how and why social changes have affected perceived corruption in Hong Kong after 1997. This study used both quantitative and qualitative methods. First, 20 respondents from Hong Kong and Guangzhou were interviewed to map the main discursive themes related to corruption and the changing relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China. Second, a subjective perception scale was constructed on the basis of interview data, and 148 district council (DC) members were surveyed. Third, 15 DC members were interviewed to explore their perceptions of corruption. Both quantitative and qualitative data showed that the important historical conjuncture of mainlandization has been politicized in Hong Kong and has deeply influenced the DC members' perceived seriousness of corruption. Moreover, two additional mediating mechanisms of mainlandization's effect on perceived seriousness of corruption were found: 1) Mainlandization brought about more conflicts of interest among government officials, which weakened the symbolic function of the ICAC and, in turn, affected the perceived seriousness of corruption; 2) the class conflict caused by social unfairness and conflicts of interest emerged in the process of mainlandization led to increasingly fierce civic engagement which, in turn, strengthened the public perception of increasingly serious corruption. Finally, the mass media began to cater more to public demand while performing a less ideological function for the dominant power bloc. Cases studies of corruption-related malpractice were used to illustrate the conflict of interest and collusion between senior officials and businessmen, which aroused active civic engagement against corruption. It was concluded that corruption is intimately related to power, class, and ideology, but the censure of corruption in Hong Kong nowadays failed to offer a hegemonic function for the dominant power bloc.

    Research areas

  • Political corruption, Officials and employees, Misconduct in office, Corrupt practices, China, Hong Kong (China), Hong Kong