Category Archives: Political and Policy Analysis

The Dynamics of Executive-Legislative Discord in Hong Kong: Conflict, Confrontation and Adaptation

Full Text of the Paper

Professor Sonny S.H. Lo
The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Mr. Dennis Ka-Kuen Leung
The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Executive-legislative relations in Hong Kong have been transformed from harmony during the British colonial era to a far more conflict-ridden and confrontational mode after the handover of the British territory to the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997. The conflict-ridden relations between the executive branch of the government and the legislature have worsened since the introduction of more directly elected members to the Legislative Council. The confrontational relationships have been compounded by the mutual distrust between the government and the pan-democratic forces, and between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democratic front. Exacerbating the political impasse is the partially reformed political system in Hong Kong, where the Executive Council is filled with pro-establishment elites without co-opting a few directly elected democrats. As a result of the politics of exclusion and the patronage nature of the political appointees system that was introduced into Hong Kong in July 2002. The media criticisms of the personal integrity and performance of a few appointees have delegitimized the Hong Kong administration under the leadership of the new Chief Executive C. Y. Leung. Without a more drastic overhaul of the Hong Kong political system, especially in the form of appointing representatives of the pan-democratic camp into the top-policy Executive Council, executive-legislative relations are bound to be conflict-ridden, confrontational and controversial, albeit the government will continue to adapt to the politicized circumstances and respond to public demands in a more pluralistic manner.


Problems of Governance and Political Leadership in Hong Kong by Professor Sonny Lo (2012)

Problems of Governance and Political Leadership in Hong Kong

Chinese leader makes appearance, temporarily dashing hopes for speculative headlines

Chinese leader makes appearance, temporarily dashing hopes for speculative headlines
Cain Nunns, September 15, 2012

TAIPEI, Taiwan — China’s so-called invisible man and presumed leader in waiting Xi Jinping shrugged off Western media speculation about a possible stroke, assassination attempt, a bitter internal power struggle and a host of other B-movie conspiracy theories when he made his first public appearance in two weeks today.

State-run Xinhua news agency ran a brief report saying Vice President Xi “arrived at China Agricultural University Saturday morning for activities marking this year’s National Science Popularization Day.”

As is often the case in the opaque world of Chinese politics, there was no mention of why he had been sidelined since his last public appearance on Sept. 1. Since then, the 59-year-old son of Communist Revolution royalty has canceled meetings with visiting US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, along with dignitaries from Singapore and Russia.

The official explanation was that he had suffered a back injury and needed time to recuperate. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Xi’s cancelation of the Clinton meeting should not raise “unnecessary speculation.”

But unnecessary speculation was raised anyway, as foreign media began reporting on rumors (or perhaps starting them) that more sinister elements were at play.

“Chinese politics at the top is often like palace politics — typical of dynastic secrecy,” wrote Lo Shiu Hing, a Chinese political expert at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, in an email to GlobalPost.

“Journalists are prone to grasp any rumor so as to guess what happened with Xi,” Lo said. “Palace politics in China versus relatively more transparent politics in the US explains this strange situation. Also, political sensationalism can attract the world’s attention. Using rumors to report on Xi was a natural and an irresistible tendency.”


Understanding Hong Kong Politics, Parties and Governance by Professor Sonny Lo (2012)

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Harmony versus checks and balances: Understanding Beijing’s Policy Toward Macau and Hong Kong.

Harmony versus checks and balances: Understanding Beijing’s Policy Toward Macau and Hong Kong
Sonny Lo
Quoted from Macau Closer, December 2009

On November 10, 2009, an important seminar on Macau’s ten years of its return to the motherland, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was held in Beijing’s Peking University. During the seminar, the deputy director of the PRC State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Zhang Xiaoming, delivered a significant speech, which later aroused the political discourse among some Hong Kong people. In his speech, Zhang elaborated on several points that deserve the attention of observers on both Macau and Hong Kong…Read More

The World in 2010 Gala Dinner in Hong Kong

The Economist, for the first time in Asia. will present The World in 2010 Gala Dinner in Hong Kong this December. Daniel Franklin, executive editor of The Economist and editor of The World In series, will share his bold and unapologetic predictions for the year ahead. Other visionary leaders drawn from politics, business, science and the arts will also provide an entertaining and insightful view on global issues on the horizon. For details, please visit here.

Patron-Client Politics and Elections in Hong Kong

New Book

Patron-Client Politics and Elections in Hong Kong
Bruce Kam-kwan Kwong

This new book from Routledge Contemporary China Series examines whether patron-client relations are critical to the electoral victory of candidates; how the political elites cultivate support from clients in order to obtain more votes during local elections; and tests the extent to which whether patron-client relations are crucial in order for candidates to obtain more ballots during elections.

Bruce Kwong finds that the better candidates cultivate patron-client relations, the greater their chance of winning the election; and the smaller the size of the electoral constituency, the greater the impact of patron-client relations. Finally, the book stresses the role of Beijing as a powerful patron shaping the Hong Kong Chief Executive and the latter’s clients and analyzes the political implications and long-term consequences of patron-client politics in Hong Kong… Read More