Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the transition that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China has undergone since 1997 is the city’s relocation to the centre of Chinese politics. For most of the colonial era,  Hong Kong rarely presented itself as a political subject – much less one with the capacity to impact significantly on  national, regional, and even international politics. Immediately following the ‘handover’, the initial stability inherent in ‘one country, two systems’ hid important shifts in the political economy of Hong Kong that now shape a polarised city and threaten to destabilize it. The mixed legacy of British rule, the reconfiguration of power relations between state and business elites and the emergence of a hybrid regime that faced down the Umbrella Movement are themes that have combined to politicize Hong Kong and the people who live in the city. They have generated  manifestations of civic identity that now challenge traditional ethnic, pan-Chinese identities on which both the Beijing government and the pan-democratic camp had traditionally relied on to frame their differences.

This collection of five papers previously published in China Quarterly marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. Individually, they serve as examples of the rigorous scholarship that the China Quarterly strives to maintain. Collectively, these papers re-affirm the importance of area studies in general and China studies in particular. More than the sum of their parts, they provide an overview of the extraordinarily complex processes of social, economic and political relations that have characterised a post-colonial city of less than eight million inhabitants with the potential to influence a country of over one billion.

British Views of the Legacy of the Colonial Administration of Hong Kong: A Preliminary Assessment – Brian Hook

The Legacy of the British Administration of Hong Kong: A View from Hong Kong – Ming K. Chan

The Partnership between the Chinese Government and Hong Kong’s Capitalist Class: Implications for HKSAR Governance, 1997–2012 – Brian C.H. Fong

Street Politics in a Hybrid Regime: The Diffusion of Political Activism in Post-colonial Hong Kong – Edmund W. Cheng

The Rise of “Localism” and Civic Identity in Post-handover Hong Kong: Questioning the Chinese Nation-state – Sebastian Veg

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