Friday, July 30, 2021

16. Conversations About the Book "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': 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"

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“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.

The book may be purchased through AMAZON (kindle and paperback), 

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 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."

Pix Credit HERE

This Chapter marks the first real emergence of something that begins to loo like a coherent counter discourse to the discursive narratives developed by the Chinese central authorities since June 2019. It was odd for a number of reasons. First it was driven by the United States rather than by the U.K. Second, it was grounded on internationalism and the conception of international treaties imposing constitutional constraints on the exercise of national sovereignty (even when that sovereignty was undisputed). And it was driven as well from the oddest of sources, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China,rather than by the President of the State Department. Nonetheless, the CECC intervention represented the first time the sensibilities of the liberal democratic camp were (finally) exposed.  

These are the sensibilities that underlie both the international community’s approach to the protests in Hong Kong and to its own perceptions about the status of Hong Kong . It is grounded in a normative internationalism memorialized in hard and soft law produced by and through the U.N. and regional systems of state collectives that present both collective normative authority and a set of constraints on national action.That grounding is meant to produce the ideal toward which all states aspire and with respect to which all states have a duty to help one another attain. In some respects it provides the mirror image of the Marxist internationalism emerging in its forms in the New Era of Chinese historical development under Xi Jinping (sometimes referenced as “socialist internationalism”and more traditionally in Western Marxist thought as proletarian internationalism). For that reason it has produced--though very late given the transparency of this process, fear and caution on the part of vanguard elements of the liberal democratic camp. And perhaps more importantly, it made visible the connections between the discursive outlooks and perceptions of elements of the Hong Kong protest movement with those of the liberal democratic and internationalist camps.  The interventions of several protest leaders would have dramatic effects in the form of countermeasures eventually adopted by the central authorities.  But its framework is exposed here first.  

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The video of the conversation about Chapter 15 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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