Hong Kong’s Basic Law as a Contested Site of Conflicts: A Saga of Autonomy, Independence and Subjection
Paper Presented at the 10th World Congress of Constitutional Law (IACL-AIDC), Seoul, Republic of Korea, 18-22 June 2018.
Posted: 26 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 19, 2018
The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration marked the beginning of Hong Kong’s decolonization and the resumption of Chinese sovereignty over it. This process was, however, not without any cost for the people of Hong Kong. While the Basic Law of Hong Kong guarantees “a high degree of autonomy” under “one country, two systems”, this autonomy has proved to be largely at the mercy of the Chinese Government. I will argue that repeated attempts by the Chinese Government to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy has triggered calls for independence, which in turn has led to Hong Kong’s greater subjection by China in recent years – thus creating a “cycle of action and reaction”. This paper will examine (i) how the Basic Law text has been invoked by different constituents to create this cycle, and (ii) how the same constitutional text could be harnessed to break this vicious cycle and achieve “constitutional harmony”.
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