Cite JOURNAL ARTICLE
One Country, Two International Status? The Evolution of Hong Kong’s International Positioning from Western Imperialism to Chinese Authoritarianism
Burnay, Matthieu | Couveinhes-Matsumoto, Florian
German Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 64 (2021), Iss. 1 : pp. 243–275
Matthieu Burnay is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Global Law at Queen Mary University of London.
Florian Couveinhes Matsumoto is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the École normale supérieure, Université Paris Sciences & Lettres.
Today, Hong Kong has become a very symbolic place where one can witness a global clash between authoritarian and liberal-democratic ideologies and forces. In particular, the National Security Law enacted in August 2020 constitutes the symbol of the current trend of the confrontation. Hong Kong came to be a very symbolic tag because of its atypical history, and the resulting hybrid nature of its political and legal system, characterised by a permanent tension between the rule of law and the authoritarian rule of power. In this paper, we demonstrate that the rising influence of Beijing in Hong Kong, as best exemplified by the adoption of the 2020 National Security Law, signifies the end of the ‘One Country-Two Systems’ principle as it was traditionally understood. We also show that, as a direct consequence, the very special status of Hong Kong under international law as well as the ways in which foreign States interact with Hong Kong are deeply strained. The paper is divided into three parts. In a first part, the paper highlights how Hong Kong peculiarities find their roots in China’s first encounters with international law as well as the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It is these two foundational events that explain the very special status of Hong Kong under international law. In a second part, the paper presents recent developments in the relationship between Beijing and HKSAR as well as their background both from the perspectives of international law and domestic law. In a third part, the paper analyses how Hong Kong’s changing reality have sparked vivid reactions; questioned the ways in which private and public actors engage with Hong Kong in the legal sphere; as well as challenged the status of Hong Kong as a legal hub for international dispute resolution.
Table of Contents
|Matthieu Burnay and Florian Couveinhes-Matsumoto\nOne Country, Two International Status? The Evolution of Hong Kongs International Positioning from Western Imperialism to Chinese Authoritarianism||243|
|II. Historical Roots||246|
|A. The Origins of Hong Kong Peculiarities in Unequal Treaties||246|
|B. The Origins of Hong Kong Peculiarities in the Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law||248|
|C. A Semi-Independent Foreign Policy||250|
|III. Contemporary Evolutions||254|
|A. Most Significant Evolution Since 1997: the Disappearance of Hong Kong as Separate ‘System’?||254|
|B. Which is to be the Master? Causes and Explanations of the Evolution||260|
|IV. Contemporary Evolutions’ Impact on Hong Kong’s ‘External Relations’ and ‘Foreign Affairs’||264|
|A. International Reactions to the Evolutions||264|
|B. Impact on Hong Kong as Legal Hub||267|