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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Authoritarian deliberation : the case of Hong Kong Ma, Hua


Hong Kong is a half-authoritarian and half-democratic metropolis whose citizens enjoy full civil liberties. Deliberation is not usually expected in an authoritarian regime; however, the Hong Kong case shows that authoritarian deliberation is possible, although limited. There are two key questions that this thesis explores. The first one is whether or not the model of authoritarian deliberation is possible. The second one is why did the semi-authoritarian Hong Kong government choose to allow full deliberative processes in some issue areas? What can we draw from the unique HK deliberative practices? By examining the emerging deliberation initiatives in Hong Kong on both the macro and micro levels, this paper figures out two mechanisms for Hong Kong deliberation, one with the Advisory Group acting as a bridge between the government and the public. It is a model that can be learnt by mainland China about how to initiate and conduct effective deliberation at the metropolitan level. This thesis argues that deliberation in a context of an existing strong civil society and civil liberties like in Hong Kong is probably irreversible. The deliberative process in Hong Kong is successful in granting legitimacy to some policy outcomes, but probably not to the regime itself. However, no deliberation in the policy-making process may cause a legitimacy crisis for the regime.

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