Wednesday, April 07, 2021

"Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong SAR (June 2019 – June 2020)--Preface Essay Summaries and Table of Contents


For the last several months I have been sharing sneak peeks of a book to be published in early 2021: Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems':  Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020)  (Little Sir Press).  The essays are presented in the form of a diary that marks an intellectual progression that matches the march of events. Each was written as events unfolded (each essay is dated to the time of its initial writing) and lightly edited for the book.  The object is to capture not just the strategic and normative developments that produced the new order for Hong Kong in June 2020, but also to give a sense of the uncertainties and anticipations as the events themselves unfolded during the course of the year.  The process of ideological genesis over the course of the year  is best captured from a state of anticipation without the benefit of foresight. The essays , then, do not look back on events after the fact, but speculate, discover, and captures moments that from June 2020 look inevitable but which from the perspective of June 2019 appeared far less so. 
In an effort to avoid the prohibitive cost of hard copies, the book will be made available first as an EPub (iBook, Kindle, Amazon) (ISBN: 978-1-949943-03-0 (ebk). My thanks to the Coalition for Peace & Ethics for making this possible. I have previously shared an early drafts of the preface (here), and chapters 2 (here; June 2019), 9 (here; August 2019); 12 (here; August 2019); 20 (here; November 2019);  25 (here; May 2020); and 28 (here; 4 June 2020). .   

Here I wanted to share the portion of the book Preface with  the summary of the essays in the book, along with a detailed table of contents. The Preface, Table of Contents, and the Chapters that have already been shared, are available on the Little Sir Press Website for the book: Hong Kong Between "One Country" and "Two Systems."  Please click on Access Preface and Selected Chapters.

We are organizing a number of book sessions  to introduce the materials and speak with interested readers.  Stay tuned. 

Please let me know (offline) if you are interested in receiving a review copy.



Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems”

Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020)


Preface                                                                                                            pp. xii - xxv



The Essays



Part I: Epilogue as Introduction


Chapter 1:

Saturday, 27 June 2020

An Epilogue as Introduction: "UN Experts

Call for Decisive Measures to Protect Fundamental Freedoms in China"

[联合国专家呼吁采取果断措施保护中国境内的基本自由] and Homesickness in International Human Rights Law

pp 1-14



Part II: The Early Phases of the Protests


Chapter 2:

Saturday,15  June 2019

The Clash of Empires? Playing

With Fire in the Shadow of the Umbrella Movement

pp. 15-28


Chapter 3:

Monday 29 July 2019

Mend-Break (Di Xi 抵巇): The

Chinese Position on the Situation

in Hong Kong; Statement of the

Hong Kong and Macau Affairs

 Office of the State Council 

[国务院港澳办新闻发言人介绍对香港当前局势的立场和看法 ]

pp. 29-40



Chapter 4:

Sunday 4 August 2019

Official and Unofficial Statements

of the Political Authorities

pp. 41-56


Chapter 5:

Monday 5 August 2019

Further Statement from the Authorities

on the Situation in Hong Kong:


["Strongly Support the Hong Kong

Police to Strictly Enforce the Law and

Stop Violence"]

pp. 57-66


Chapter 6:

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Thoughts on Albert Chen


 陳弘毅 (Hong Kong U.):

理性溝通的困境 ["The Dilemma

of Rational Communication"]

pp. 67-72


Chapter 7:

Wednesday 7 August 2019

"Stop the Storm and Restore

Order!" [“止暴制乱、恢复秩序]:

 A Warning About Criminal Elements,

the Black Hand (“黑手”), and

the Corruption of the Patriotic

Education of the Young

pp. 73-100


Chapter 8:

Thursday 8 August 2019

Assessing (Quan ) the

“Black Hand” (黑手) of Foreign

 Interference and the Justification

for Intervention

pp. 101-116




Chapter 9:

Friday 9 August 2019

Thoughts on Violent Popular

(Mob?) Action Against the

Solid Virtues of Prosperity and

Stability; Considering Albert

Chen Hung-yee 陳弘毅 Essay on the

Situation in Hong Kong Part 2:

一國兩制的博弈 ["The Game of

One Country Two Systems"]

pp. 117-124


Chapter 10:

Tuesday August 13, 2019

Dividing the Baby, and Killing it, Too;

Press Briefing Note from the United

Nations High Commissioner for Human

Rights [关于中国香港的新闻发布会 联合国人权事务高级专员发言人 ]

pp. 125-130


Chapter 11:

Friday 16 August 2019

Surya Deva on the International

Human Rights Implications of the

Situation in Hong Kong

pp. 131-142


Chapter 12:

Monday 19 August 2019

Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe): "Opinions

of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)]

pp. 143-152


Chapter 13:

Thursday 22 August 2019Date

Reflections on Zheng Yongnian:

"The Capital of Protests" Who Controls

Hong Kong?" [郑永年:


pp. 153-168




Part III: The Hardening of Positions Now More Fully Developed


Chapter 14:

Monday 2 September 2019

‘Two Systems’ Internationalism Against

‘One Country’ Nationalism--Reflections

on the G7 Declaration and the

(Re)Construction of New Era

pp. 169-178


Chapter 15:

Tuesday 18 September 2019

“Two Systems” Internationalism:

Congressional-Executive Commission

on China Hearings on "Hong Kong’s

Summer of Discontent and U.S. Policy Responses"

pp. 179-190


Chapter 16:

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Black Hand [黑手]/ Red List [红名单]:

China, Law and the Foreigner; Mutual Engagements on a Global Scale

pp- 191-220


Chapter 17:

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The “Five Demands,” the Legitimacy

of Force, and the  Constitution of the

“Two Systems” Principle

pp. 221-232


Chapter 18:

Sunday 20 October 2019

Students at the Center and the

University Response--CUHK

Vice-Chancellor and

President Professor Rocky S. Tuan's

Open Letter


pp. 233-246


Chapter 19:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Shirley Ze Yu on Hong Kong and

the Construction of Post-Global Empire

pp. 247-254


Chapter 20

Monday 18 November  2019

Open-Shut (bai he 稗閤) Strategies: 习近平;止暴制乱 恢复秩序是香港当前最紧迫的任务 [Xi Jinping; Stopping the storm and restoring order is Hong Kong's most urgent task at present]

pp. 255-262




Part IV: Stalemate


Chapter 21:

Monday 30 December 2019

Stalemate: The Storm Continues


pp. 263-268


Chapter 22:

Monday 30 March 2020

The COVID-19 Factor

pp. 269-274


Chapter 23:

Sunday 19 April 2020

The COVID-19 Accelerator Effect:

The Situation in Hong Kong and the

Virtual Conflict Between the United

States and China

pp. 275-290






Part V: The End of the Protest Movement


Chapter 24:

Saturday 23 May 2020

On Resolutely Resolving Contradiction 《全国人民代表大会关于建立健全香港特别行政区维护国家安全的法律制度和执行机制的决定(草案)》 (""Decision of the National People's Congress on Establishing and Improving the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Legal System and Implementation Mechanism for Maintaining National Security (Draft)")

pp. 291-318


Chapter 25:

Tuesday 26 May 2020

For Whom is Hong Kong Home?

“One Country-Two Systems,”

the National Security Law and the

Development of a Patriotic Front

pp. 319-330  


Chapter 26:

Sunday 31 May 2020

The "Four Great Errors" and the

Stratagems of Meaning Making

pp. 331-342


Chapter 27:

Monday 1 June 2020

Inaugurating the New Era for Hong

Kong with the National Security Law

and the Cancellation of the

Tiananmen Vigil

pp. 343-354


Chapter 28:

Thursday 4 June 2020

The SAR Government Passes the

National Anthem Ordinance

(國歌條例草案) Reinforcing the

 Architecture of Two Systems WITHIN

One Country

pp. 355-374


Chapter 29:

Friday 5 June 2020

Marco Rubio, the Congressional-

Executive Commission on China,

and the International Response

Creating the Inter-Parliamentary

Alliance on China (對華政策跨國議會聯盟对华政策跨国议会联盟対中政策に関する列国議会連盟)

pp. 375-386


Chapter 30:

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Fundamental Principles (Fu Yan符言):

On the Ideological Thrust of the Draft

"Law of the People's Republic of China

on the Maintenance of National Security"


pp- 387-398




Part VI: The New Era Begins for Hong Kong Under a “Two Systems Within One Country” Principle


Chapter 31:

Tuesday 28 July 2020

After-Word: The Clean Up Begins in Earnest:

The End of the 2014-2020 Protest Movement  and the Emergence of New Era Hong Kong

pp. 399-414




pp. 415-418







Preface and Acknowledgements



言有尽而意无穷” [Words and meanings are endless].


* * * 


What  was won on the streets of Hong Kong from June to December 2019, the public and physical manifestation of an internationalist and liberal democratic narrative of self-determination, civil and political rights was lost by June 2020  within a cage of legality legitimated through the resurgence of the normative authority of the state and the application of its constitutional order.

 * * *

The essays are offered here in part as contemporaneous engagement with historical events as they unfolded. The essays, as well, are presented as the story of a rapidly changing analytical framework within which events occurred and through which they could be interpreted.  The essays, then, are both a journal of events, and a journey. For its readers it may serve as a record of the way that the way of thinking about the situation of Hong Kong changed radically over such a short period of time. It is also, in part, a chronicle of the way in which larger events—the US-China trade war, and the COVID19 pandemic—can have a substantial effect on what would otherwise be a localized affair.


It is as important to underline that there is no great moral or political agenda to the essays.  They take the world as the parties represent it, and then hold each to their respective representation. Do not expect this to be the work of a public intellectual with a (not so) hidden agenda.  It is not meant as polemic, nor as apology. But it does relish  recounting the idiosyncrasies of the protagonists, each bound within the constraints of their driving ideologies which drive them relentlessly through a series of events that for at least some of the actors became a deeply  personal  tragedy, even as for others it represented a triumph perhaps unimaginable when the protests began in June 2019.


The focus on discourse.  The essays read the events as they unfolded through the rhetoric of the parties--their statements, their gestures, their performances on the streets, and ultimately their memorialization of these discourses in binding instruments most acutely expressed in the two of the three germinal laws of the new Hong Kong after June 2020--the National Anthem Law and the National Security Law. To some extent this discursive focus owes a debt to and might be comfortably embedded within analytic traditions that owe much to the insights of Guiguzi  (鬼谷子)and its rhetoric,[1]  which makes its appearance throughout the essays and perhaps binds them together into something more coherent. These insights frame some of the analysis, as do the insights of critical thinkers from the Western tradition.


The essays are organized chronologically into six parts. They are critical essays in the sense that they try to make sense of events as they are occurring.  To a large extent the essays are also grounded on my work on Chinese Marxist-Leninism as it has evolved through the era of Reform and Opening Up to its current New Era forms.[2] Please note that even though the essays build on each other in the sense that they develop their analysis as events unfolded after June 2019, each of the essays can be read independent of the others.  There is no need to read the essays in order, and those seeking to focus on particular discourse trajectories during the year (e.g., the development of the discourse and narrative of the central authorities) may focus profitably only on those essays  in which that is the principal object of consideration. That said, the reader will get most from reading all of the essays, and in order.  


Part I (Epilogue as Introduction) starts at the end of the story. It uses  a fairly rare statement endorsed by a substantial majority of the representatives of United Nations Human Rights  special procedures calling for the development of decisive measures to protect human rights in the face of the enactment by Chinese authorities of a National Security Law for Hong Kong to situate the end of the story that began with exuberant protests on 9 June 2019 and ended with the imposition of a legal order that effectively reshaped the character of the Hong Kong political order. It does this form the perspective of one of the international community--perhaps among the actors most adversely affected by the story that is Hong Kong between June 2019 and July 2020.


Part II consists of eleven chapter essays. These essays take one form the beginning of the protests in June 2019 to the end of August 2019. The essays serve as an analytical witness to the development of the initial phase of the Hong Kong protests. Step by step, as it occurred, it considered the escalations of ambitions and tactics of the protesters, the growing intransigence of local officials, and the start of what would become an elaborate and largely effective counter  position of the Chinese central authorities.  Much of what s developed in these earl weeks provides the foundation for everything that develop thereafter.  Positions that have their start, sometimes quite tentatively, in these early weeks, later emerge as powerful strategies in the months that follow.  


Part III consists of seven essays.  The essays critically chronical what then appeared to be the critical events taking place from the beginning of September to the end of November 2019. These take the reader through the next phase of development, one in which initial positions are fully developed and hardened. Here one sees fully developed the ideological position of the central authorities that in retrospect were faithfully memorialized in the National Anthem Law, the National Security Law, and most recently in the amendments to the Election  rules in the Hong Kong Basic Law in March 2021. At the same time, one encounters here the maturing of an aligned position of the various groups of protesters that sought to deepen the internationalization of its movement and preserve its efforts to permanently protect a measure of liberal democratic order in Hong Kong. Lastly the manifestation of international response, rounded fist in the narrow strictures of the Sino-British , xxii Declaration  and thereafter in general fundamental principles of international civil and political rights of coherent political communities, is also well developed in this period.


Part IV then considers the relatively short period of stalemate between December 2019 and April 2020 in three essays that cover the apex of protester power in December 2019 and January 2020, and then the stalemate pause imposed by the realities of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. One moves here from the unabated storm of protest to the opportunity that pandemic provides local and national authorities to break that stalemate in their favor. It was during this period that the stakes around the proper conceptualization of the One Country Two Systems principle became clear.  On the one side were the central authorities who now had fully developed  the construct of the principle  as a means of permitting autonomy within the discretionary authority of the state. On the other were the protesters and the international community who now saw in One Country Two Systems a principle of divided sovereignty in which the political choices of the Hong Kong community could be protected against encroachment by the central authorities, one based on international liberal democratic and human rights principles.


Part V then chronicles the end of the protest movement and the emergence of a “new era” Hong Kong between May and July 2020. Its seven essays critically chronicle the way that the central authorities drove events from May 2020, in a way that paralleled the way that protesters drove events in June through September 2019.  This starts with the announcement of an intention to impose a National Security Law, through the imposition of first a National Anthem Law and then ending with the adoption of the National Security Law itself.  It considers the critical importance of the development of the mechanics of a patriotic front as a means of dividing and managing the people of Hing Kong, and the relatively little opposition that the central authorities faced in successfully realizing its objectives.


The single essay that makes up Part VI serves as the after-word of the story that was told in chapters two through thirty. This is not just the end of the story of the protests in Hing Kong but also the beginning of the story of Hong Kong as a more integrated part of the Pearl River area of China.  No longer an international city, Hong Kong now rejoins the nation as a Chinese city with substantial international connections. Beyond that, Hong Kong’s future is now far more closely aligned with that of China and of China’s central authorities.


The essays have been only lightly edited and footnoted to retain their  connection with the time in which they were written; very little was done to update the essays or the writing ,except where necessary to add context. My hope is that these may provide some perspective not just on the events in Hong Kong, but on the evolution of Chinese political ideology in this crucial period of history. The object of these essays is not so much truth as context. It is meant to provide a record of thinking at the time the evets were occurring, full of the presumptions, prejudices and perspectives of the times.  The essays, then, are offered as a sort of witness statement, both of the times and of the thinking possible as events unfolded, without any benefit of foreknowledge of what was to come. And that, I hope, may, be their ultimate value to those who read the essays in the years to come.


[1] Guiguzi (鬼谷子), Guiguzi: China’s First Treatise on Rhetoric; A Critical Translation and Commentary (Hui Wu (trans.); Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2016 (before 220 A.D.))

[2] See, Larry Catá Backer: “Chinese Constitutionalism in the ‘New Era’: The Emerging Idea and Practice of Constitution in the Wake of Xi Jinping’s Report to the 19th Chinese Communist Party,” Connecticut Journal of International Law 33(2):163-213 (2018); “Between the Judge and the Law—Judicial Independence and Authority with Chinese Characteristics,” Connecticut Journal of International Law 33(1):1-41 (2017);  “Crafting a Theory of Socialist Democracy for China in the 21st Century: Considering Hu Angang’s Theory of Collective Presidency in the Context of the Emerging Chinese Constitutional State,” Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal 16(1):29-82 (2014); “Towards a Robust Theory of the Chinese Constitutional State: Between Formalism and Legitimacy in Jiang Shigong’s Constitutionalism,” Modern China 40(2):168-195 (2014); “Party, People, Government, and State: On Constitutional Values and the Legitimacy of the Chinese State-Party Rule of Law System,” Boston University International Law Journal 30(1):331-408 (2012); “The Rule of Law, The Chinese Communist Party, and Ideological Campaigns:  Sange Daibiao (the “Three Represents”), Socialist Rule of Law, and Modern Chinese Constitutionalism,” Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems 16(1):29-102 (2006).   

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