Constitutionalism and the Politics of Democracy in Hong Kong
The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs Journal, Vol. 30, No. 165, 2006
11 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 20, 2006
Hong Kong has survived, but there have been a number of vociferous debates over the pace of democratization and related Chinese commitments to Hong Kong. In the past several years, pro-Beijing attacks on democracy and China's interpretations of the Hong Kong Basic Law have sought to displace Hong Kong's democratic reform agenda. Sections that follow then consider the Beijing interpretation of the Basic Law democracy requirements, the Hong Kong government's efforts at compliance, and political battles that have shaped this debate. It gives the central government, through its appointed Chief Executive, to the exclusion of the Legislative Council, complete control of any initiation of democratic reform. The third stage of this attack on democratic reform became even more aggressive when Beijing officials and media started publishing threats to take emergency action. Prior to Beijing's interference, the government was noncommittal on the nominating committee, though the government's Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Stephen Lam, had indicated that the government would not block democrats from running for Chief Executive. Government by expediency and crisis, and public action by shaming, are inherent features of a constitutional system that cherishes liberty and the rule of law but fails to afford democracy. If these matters are handled more generously in Beijing, more democratization need not mean more animosity toward Beijing.
Keywords: Hong Kong, constitutionalism, basic law
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