Hong Kong's Elite structure, legislature and the bleak future of democracy under Chinese Sovereignty

Wing Chung Ho, Wan Lung Lee, Chun Man Chan, Petrus Y N NG, Yee Hung Choy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A decade after retrocession to China, Hong Kong still has limited democracy. Only half of the legislature is directly elected by the people, and the Chief Executive - the leader of Hong Kong government - is chosen by an election committee of 800 people, most of them loyal to Beijing. In December 2007, the Chinese Central Government announced that the direct election of the Chief Executive and the whole legislature may be implemented from 2017 and 2020, respectively. Still, in this paper it is suggested that real democracy in the foreseeable future is unlikely. This paper demonstrates the existence of a "power elite" of tightly knit business-state networks in Hong Kong society and argues that this constitutes a systemic barrier against further democratic development. Central to the discussion is an analysis ofthe formation and composition ofthe legislature and the relations to the elite-interlocks among influential organisations in society. Mainly based on 2006-07 data, the Elite Database which is subject to network analyses is composed of 1531 individuals holding 1854 seats from 40 listed corporations, 27 government committees, 20 non-governmental organisations, and eight universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-486
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Democracy
  • Elite
  • Hong Kong
  • Interlock
  • Network analysis


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