Monday, July 05, 2021

11. Conversations About the Book "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': Chapter 10 (Tuesday 13 August 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 ]


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

In the run up to the book launch scheduled for 13 July 2021 (registration required but free HERE), the folks at Little Sir Press have organized a series of short conversations about my new book, "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'."  

About the Book:
Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems” examines the battle of ideas that started with the June 2019 anti-extradition law protests and ended with the enactment of the National Security and National Anthem Laws a year later. At the center of these battles was the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. By June 2020, the meaning of that principle was highly contested, with Chinese authorities taking decisive steps to implement their own understanding of the principle and its normative foundations , and the international community taking countermeasures. All of this occurred well before the 2047 end of the 1985 Sino-British Joint Declaration (中英联合声明) that had been the blueprint for the return of Hong Kong to China. Between these events, global actors battled for control of the narrative and of the meaning of the governing principles that were meant to frame the scope and character of Hong Kong’s autonomy within China. The book critically examines the conflict of words between Hong Kong protesters, the Chinese central and local authorities, and important elements of the international community. This decisive discursive contest paralleled the fighting for control of the streets and that pitted protesters and the international community that supported them against the central authorities of China and Hong Kong local authorities. In the end the Chinese central authorities largely prevailed in the discursive realm as well as on the streets. Their victory was aided, in part by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. But their triumph also produced the seeds of a new and potentially stronger international constitutional discourse that may reduce the magnitude and scope of that success. These essays were written as the events unfolded. Together the essays analytically chronicle the discursive battles that were fought, won and lost, between June 2019 and June 2020. Without an underlying political or polemical agenda, the essays retain the freshness of the moment, reflecting the uncertainties of the time as events unfolded. What was won on the streets of Hong Kong from June to December 2019, the public and physical manifestation of a principled internationalist and liberal democratic narrative of self-determination, and of civil and political rights, was lost by June 2020 within a cage of authoritative legality legitimated through the resurgence of the normative authority of the state and the application of a strong and coherent expression of the principled narrative of its Marxist-Leninist constitutional order. Ironically enough, both political ideologies emerged stronger and more coherent from the conflict, each now better prepared for the next.

I am delighted, then, to make available the next in the series of video recordings of conversations about the book with my former research assistant Matthew McQuilla (Penn State International Affairs MIA 2021). Today we discuss Chapter 10 (Tuesday 13 August 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 ]. 

 The chapter is particularly interesting for the discussion of the way that the international community started to develop its own discursive responses to the situation in Hong Kong. It suggests in that regard the contradictions that substantially constrain international responses. Among the most interesting consequences of this effort was the way that in trying to (1) remain true to its values, (2) recognize the realities of the state power system in which it operates and to which it was dependent, and (3) to enhance its long term project of interposing international law and norms as a chapeau to the constitutional orders of states in general and with particular specific effect in Hong Kong, the response managed to satisfy no one. And yet that is what will mark the international community's interventions going forward.

 The video of the conversation about Chapter 10 may be accessed HERE.

All conversations are posted to the Coalition for Peace & Ethics YouTube page and may be found on its Playlist: Talking About the Book: "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'." All conversation videos are hosted by Little Sir Press. I hope you find the conversation of some use. 


A pre-publication version of some of the book chapters may be accessed (free) on the Book's webpage (here). All videos may also be accessed through the Little Sir Press Book Website HERE.


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