A missing page in the grand plan of “one country, two systems”: regional integration and its challenges to post-1997 Hong Kong
Abstract The design of “One Country, Two Systems” was an outcome of political compromise and there are several hidden assumptions in its conception and reception. Such assumptions prepare, or more accurately under-prepare, Hong Kong for its integration with China. Indeed, prior to 1997, Hong Kong was expected to be largely secluded from China in the sense that while its manufacturers were free to invest in the Mainland and to make the best use of resources across the border for economic purposes, flows of capital and population from the other of the border into the special administrative region would be significantly restricted by the two places’ institutional regulations (e.g., the requirement of an entry visa for Mainlanders to enter Hong Kong. This rather unbalanced traffic of flows of socio-economic activity between Hong Kong and China had simply not been raised as a question on the feasibility for the practical operation of “One Country, Two Systems.” From 2003 onwards Hong Kong has been exposed to issues and problems that were not fully anticipated by the above conception of the former colony’s political future. Tensions and conflicts arising from regional and national integration are quickly reshaping the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong.
Keywords: “One Country, Two Systems,” political compromise, status quo, regional integration
Tai-lok LUI is Chair Professor of Hong Kong Studies at the Department of Asian and Policy Studies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education. His recent books include Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation and Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City. His publications also appear in Asia Pacific Viewpoint, China Perspectives, China Review, International Development Planning Review, Journal of Contemporary China, and Urban Studies.