Notes1 Studying Hong Kong from a comparative perspective
In 1995, Hong Kong’s GDP per capita measured in parity purchasing power already stood as the third highest one globally. The giant dynamism of the city-state has equally been reflected by the spectacular annual growth rates of 9.2 percent and 6.7 percent in GDP, scored during 1970-80 and 1980-92 respectively (World Bank, 1994:163).
What is “democracy”? Definitions of it abound (Held, 1987; O’Donnell et al., Pt. IV, 1986:13; Putnam, 1973:159-69; Sartori, 1987). Dahl has enumerated eight necessary conditions for democracy (Dahl, 1971:3) and many subsequent works of political science and sociology adopt his definition. Throughout this book, I will also use it. An abstract of the eight conditions suggests that democracy can be defined as a system of government fulfilling three conditions:
|(a) Political competition: meaningful and extensive competition among individuals and organized groups (especially political parties) for political leadership roles, conducted regularly and peacefully.|
|(b) Political participation: a highly inclusive level of political participation in the selection of leaders and policies through regular and fair elections, such that no major (adult) social group is excluded.|
|(c) Civil and political liberties: freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom to form and join organizations - sufficient to ensure the integrity of political competition and participation (Diamond et al., 1988, 89a: xvi).|
Freedom House has incorporated much of Dahlsian’s definition into its two-category scores, i.e., political rights and civil liberties, to measure the level of freedom. Many cross-national researchers adopt the influential Freedom House data as a proxy to measure the level of democracy and regime status. I follow Diamond’s definition (1999:32-4) of “liberal democracy” - those regimes with the sum of scores of civil liberties and political rights no more than 5, and treating those with their total scores of no more than 5 as “full democracy. ” As Hong Kong has never achieved 5 or less between 1972 and 2001, I therefore stated that Hong Kong has never been a full democracy. Owing to the influences of Westernization on Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s prodemocracy movement leaders have conceived of “democracy” as defined by Dahl. They demanded a directly elected government, the setting-up of political parties, and the improvement of civil liberties and political rights. As political parties were allowed to operate since 1990, and as Hong Kong’s records in civil liberties and political rights were in general better than many authoritarian countries, Hong Kong’s battle of democratization has focused on the speed and extent of increasing directly elected seats for its legislature, and the timing for directly electing its Governor or Chief Executive. Finally, as the largest
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Book title: Hong Kong's Tortuous Democratization: A Comparative Analysis.
Contributors: Ming Sing - Author.
Publisher: Routledge Curzon.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 2004.
Page number: 237.
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