Countering the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong. A Successful Securitization in an Environment of Low Political Trust

Dionysios Stivas, Alistair Cole

    Research output: Working paperPreprint


    In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities around the world securitized the virus and enforced unprecedented tactics. A successful securitization presupposes a common understanding between the authorities and the public about the calibre of the threat and the necessity of the extraordinary measures. A trustworthy government should securitize an issue of its preference easier than an untrustworthy government. Hong Kong, our case study, is unique because of the government’s success with securitizing the pandemic in a context of extremely low political trust. Among the exceptional mechanisms that the government of Hong Kong utilized to control the outbreak were smart technologies. This paper examines the extent to which trust in the government and trust in smart technologies influenced the success of the securitization of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong. To answer this question, we build on publicly available surveys assessing political trust in Hong Kong, on tailormade questionnaires investigating the sentiments of Hong Kong citizens towards smart technologies and on a Focus Group exercise with carefully selected residents of Hong Kong. The results of this study suggest that under certain circumstances, governments can successfully securitize a health-emergency even when they do not enjoy high levels of political trust.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages27
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • General

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Securitization
    • Hong Kong
    • Smart City
    • Political Trust
    • Covid-19
    • Pandemic


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