Ming K. Chan, editor. China's Hong Kong Transformed: Retrospect and Prospects beyond the First Decade. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press, 2008. 342 pp. Paperback $38.00, ISBN 978-962-937-168-5.
This book includes fourteen chapters, which were presented at two symposia held in Hong Kong (April 27-28, 2007) and in Stanford, California (November 12, 2007), both on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The collected volume has contributions by scholars from different disciplines (economics, politics, media, sociology) and includes professionals, a legislator, a diplomat, a businessman, a government policy advisor, and NGO executives. Their varying backgrounds and different nationalities offer a diversity of perspectives on the crucial developmental and sociopolitical issues that HKSAR encountered in the first decade.
The first chapter, written by the editor, is a succinct summary of the first decade of HKSAR's sociopolitical development. Except for two factual mistakes on page 6, the paper is an excellent, wide-ranging introduction to the crucial issues in Hong Kong. The first mistake concerns the dates of the interpretations of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), with its first interpretation in June 1999 on the issue of rights of abode of mainland-born children; the second, in April 2004 on the pace of democratization; and the third, in April 2005 on the remaining tenure of the resigning chief executive. However, the text mentions that the second interpretation occurred in the spring of 2005 and the second in April 2006. Another error is the date of the NPC's decision to allow HKSAR a blueprint for the election of the chief executive in 2017 on December 29, 2007. The numeral 7 is missing in "2007" (p. 12). The paper is a fluent and analytical account of the development of HKSAR, but it lacks a coherent theoretical framework to comprehend different aspects of the mainland and HKSAR convergence. This task remains to be completed. The second chapter, by Sin-por Shiu, is a factual description of major development of Hong Kong without any revealing or in-depth analysis.
The third chapter, by the prodemocracy legislator Margaret Ng on the democratization of Hong Kong, offers the most comprehensive analysis that I have read so far on the arguments of democratization, the progress made toward democratization, the arguments of the proestablishment camp, Beijing's stand, key issues at stake, the way forward, and so forth. The piece could serve an essential reference for undergraduates who take a course on Hong Kong politics.
The fourth chapter, by Ronnie Chan, is written by a real estate businessman and reveals nothing new about some of conspiratory aspects of British policies in Hong Kong. The author harbors extremely biased view toward the British. The question he did not ask is why, despite what he has said about the British government, Hong Kongers choose to stay in Hong Kong and do not go back to the motherland. The piece contains frequent abusive and unsupported statements against the pan-democrats: "[T]he pan-democrats have been lying to the west that HK has regressed" (p. 102); "[A]ll universities were then controlled by the colonial master" (p. 101); "[T]hose pan-democrats never complained about the lack of legitimacy before" (p. 106); "In the name of democracy, lies and dirty tactics have all become acceptable.... Such is HK today, thanks to the pan-democrats" (p. 109). This piece and the fourteenth chapter, by James Cunningham, who served as U.S. consul general from 2005 to 2008, are the only works that cite no references. The former is the subjective opinion of a businessman who has vast financial interests in mainland China, and the latter is a diplomat's representation of his country's point of view on the concept of one country, two systems. The two papers should not have appeared in this otherwise excellent edition on Hong Kong. …