Hong Kong's Tortuous Democratization: A Comparative Analysis

By Ming Sing | Go to book overview

7

Decline in popular mobilization for democracy and emergence of PRC-initiated democratic reversal (1992-7)

Chinese Government set to reverse Hong Kong’s limited democracy
Comparative research in Asia, Southern Europe, and Latin America has shown that agreement by the elite on the “rules of the game” of a democratic system is indispensable to democratic transition and consolidation (Mainwaring et al., 1992). The lack of elite agreement can trigger a split among the elite and strengthen clashes between pro-democratic and anti-democratic forces. Such split can destabilize democratic institutions and turn them into unconsolidated democracies, pseudo-democracies, or even authoritarian regimes (Higley and Gunther, 1992:23; Mainwaring et al., 1992). 1For the Chinese Government, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the risk of “peaceful evolution” following the Western spiritual pollution has arisen. Worse still, the likelihood of Hong Kong becoming a subversive base against the Chinese Communist Party has also been heightened as evidenced by the enthusiastic support displayed by the people of Hong Kong to the Tiananmen Square incident. Consequently, the Chinese Government, like other authoritarian regimes, attempted to roll back Hong Kong’s democratization by various means both before and after the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty.In Hong Kong, democratization evolved sluggishly from the mid-1980s, and resulted in a limited democracy in mid-1997. The democratization was, however, drastically reversed within a few months after the handover of the territory from Britain to China. Many plans to prepare the reversal of democracy were laid before the handover.This chapter will show how the Chinese Government and its indirectly appointed new Chief Executive for post-handover Hong Kong, Chee-hwa Tung, have endeavored to reverse the democratic development erected by Chris Patten through the following measures before mid-1997:
1 Setting up the powerful Preparatory Committee and abolishing the elected legislature.

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