Mass Protests and the Structure of Power in Contemporary Hong Kong


Keliher, Macabe. “Mass Protests and the Structure of Power in Contemporary Hong Kong.” China Review International 26, no. 1 (2021): 1-37.
HK protests.pdf491 KB


Disguised as a review this essay draws on the insights of recent books as well as other significant studies and reports in order to develop an analysis of the protests and the structures of power in contemporary Hong Kong. Somewhat like peeling an onion, it unfolds in five sections or problems. Beginning with a look at the nature of the protests themselves, it shows that recent uprisings are but the most extreme manifestation of tens of thousands of demonstrations occurring every year. The second section examines protestors’ most common demand, universal suffrage, and how the political structure of Hong Kong coupled with Beijing sovereignty makes its fulfillment impossible. The third section turns to Beijing’s efforts since 2003 to integrate Hong Kong into China and undermining Hong Kong civil society. The forth and fifth sections shift to probe the historical context, first by exploring the colonial period and the problem of the drafting of the Basic Law, which has served to empower an economic and political elite; and then by unveiling the problem of the political economy and land monopolies as premised on principles of the free-market economic orthodoxy, which is structured in a way to further the concentration of economic power. What becomes apparent from this unpacking is that the political and economic elite have morphed into a single class, resulting in policies that privilege the power and wealth of the few but disenfranchise the many.

Project Muse

Last updated on 07/10/2021