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Democracy denied : civil society and illiberal democracy in Hong Kong

Thomas, ND 1998 , 'Democracy denied : civil society and illiberal democracy in Hong Kong', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This dissertation is an analysis of the social and political transformation of Hong Kong, primarily focusing upon the period 1984-1997. This was a period marked by the mobilisation and politicisation of the Hong Kong people. This study adopts a three-tiered conceptual model of political systems to explain the transformation of Hong Kong during this period. This model, first proposed by Claus Offe, describes a system where political activity is the result of the combination of an indigenous identity based upon a nation-state and an operating system that determines how the nation-state will function. Against this model I examine two overarching issues and their effect on Hong Kong's social and political processes: the economic modernisation of the territory and the July 1 retrocession. The consequent tensions created will be shown to have played a decisive role in the unique development of Hong Kong's social and political systems.
Using Offe's model, I argue that Hong Kong has developed into a territory with a distinct and separate political identity. This is determined to be the byproduct of the sporadic development of both a local identity and a socio-political operating system conducive to political expression. The transition period focused and accelerated these developments. This dissertation differs from existing work in that it is shown that the political outcome of the transition period (had it been allowed to reach a "conclusion" without intervention from China) would not have been a liberal-democratic polity. This conclusion is drawn from a reinterpretation of the first phase of liberalisation (1984-1989) which demonstrates that the social and political liberalisation that occurred in Hong Kong was a result of the actions of the Hong Kong state rather than the result of grassroots activity. In contrast, the second phase of liberalisation (1989-1997) saw a withdrawal by the colonial state that allowed pressure from the grassroots to direct the development of the transitional state. However, the grassroots were not homogenous in their political affiliation - as they supported both democratic and pro-China representation. The resultant political system was, thus, a reflection of these two conflicting affiliations.
I conclude that the type of politicisation Hong Kong has experienced is conducive to the development of a middle path - between the Western liberal-democratic model and the East Asian variant of authoritarianism. This will be the combined result of a social structure based upon liberal-democratic ideals but also of a political system incorporating important authoritarian features. The degree to which future socio-political developments will advance Hong Kong's unique model of political evolution will depend on the extent to which these two contrasting influences remain balanced.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Thomas, ND
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Copyright 1997 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references

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