The Politics of China–Hong Kong Relations

The Politics of China–Hong Kong Relations

Living with Distant Masters

Peter W. Preston

In 1997 the British state relinquished control of Hong Kong and at this moment an established prosperous community was faced with reordering its sense of itself and its links with the wider world around the authority of Beijing. This book seeks to uncover the political logic of the process. Four issues are pursued: the manner of embedding a new political settlement, the business of governing the territory, the issue of democracy and the likely future of the extant form-of-life.

Afterword: Hong Kong in comparative view

Peter W. Preston

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics


Beijing has looked to Singapore as an example for Hong Kong. At the core of the comparison is a substantive characterization: that the Singapore state-elite is technically proficient; that the Singapore state-elite is a-political and pragmatically focused on the pursuit of economic growth; that the Singapore state-elite has authoritatively imposed discipline on the population and has created the conditions for economic success and popular contentment; and that the population of Singapore is a-political, as it is either unconcerned with politics or content with material advance. Or in sum, a highly skilled benevolent elite has provided an acquiescent mass with good lives. Unfortunately this misreads the post-independence experience of the polity of Singapore: the city-state is not a-political; rather it is a politically mobilized society. The core work of the PAP has been the pursuit of national development, and the PAP has received popular democratic support; that is, Singapore has held regular competitive liberal-democratic style elections – and the population have supported the PAP. The PAP enjoys both performance and formal electoral legitimacy. Implementing this model in Hong Kong would require granting the population of the territory a direct voice in its political affairs – one that Beijing seems unwilling to allow.

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