Hong Kong Unraveled: Historicizing Current Crisis and Imagining Possible Futures
2: The Rise and Fall of Comprador Politics
Friday, March 25, 2022
3:30pm – 5:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 313A
Tak Wing Ngo
University of Macau, United States
This paper tracks the changing nature of the ruling coalition in Hong Kong from the colonial period to the post-handover era. It argues that under British rule, the colonial administration succeeded in fostering competing business interests into a corporatist order through a pact of alliance. Such alliance, however, ceased to work after the handover. In replacement, a kind of comprador politics was sought by Beijing in the first two decades after 1997 by maneuvering tripartite interactions between three competing (and at times antagonistic) interests: major businesses, pro-Beijing groups, and pro-democracy reformers. Yet Beijing’s indirect rule through comprador politics had faced increasing challenge with the passage of time, not only from the pro-democracy reformers but also from the business elites, some of whom were connected to the power struggle within the Chinese Communist Party leadership. This challenge reached its peak during the Umbrella Movement and the Anti-Extradition Movement, resulted in the imposition of the National Security Law in 2020 which largely replaced comprador politics with direct rule. The paper will explore the possible impacts of the end of politics on Hong Kong’s status as a global city.