‘One country, two systems’ in transition

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The governance structure of ‘one country, two systems’ for Hong Kong is right at the midpoint of its 50-year tenure since the city’s return to China in 1997. Invented by Deng Xiaoping with a mixture of innovation, boldness, pragmatism and compromise, the policy design was of high strategic importance in Deng’s agenda not only of national unification but also of national modernisation. But the policy contains an intrinsic contradiction between ‘one country’ and ‘two systems’ at an operational level. The functioning of this contradiction has been determined by external and internal forces and intergovernmental power relationships. The rise of China’s economic power and political authoritarianism, Hong Kong’s internal divisions and frustrations, and increasingly confrontational geopolitics present settings that are profoundly different from the early 1980s when the policy was initially imagined and designed. An overall shift, albeit incremental and gradual, from ‘two systems’ to ‘one country’ has begun speeding up in recent years. The 2019 street movement, the 2020 national security law and the 2021 electoral system reform have expedited this shift. ‘One country, two systems’ is being reinterpreted and reinvented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDilemmas in Public Management in Greater China and Australia: Rising Tensions but Common Challenges
EditorsAndrew Podger, Hon S. Chan, Tsai-tsu Su, John Wanna
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherANU E Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781760465742
ISBN (Print)9781760465735
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2023


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