Hague Journal on the Rule of Law

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 75–99

Constitutional Conflict in Hong Kong Under Chinese Sovereignty


DOI: 10.1007/s40803-016-0025-y

Cite this article as:
Ip, E.C. Hague J Rule Law (2016) 8: 75. doi:10.1007/s40803-016-0025-y


The protracted constitutional conflicts between the Chinese state and Hong Kong society over the pace and form of democratization have become a source of political instability. This article sheds new light on these dynamics by analyzing the two sides as locked in a coordination dilemma: both have important common interests to coordinate with each other, but both rank in divergent ways their preferences for and against introducing competitive electoral arrangements into Hong Kong. It is shown how the unwillingness of either side to compromise has caused the gradual breakdown of coordination as focal points like the Basic Law have eroded, culminating in the Umbrella Revolution of 2014, the largest and longest-lasting popular movement in Hong Kong history. The bloodless ending of the Movement is chronicled, along with the persistence of political stalemate in this highly anomalous polity, known throughout the world for its combination of genuine civil liberties with authoritarian rule.


China Constitutional conflict Democratization Hong Kong Umbrella revolution 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Research Grants Council, University Grants Committee
  • 459213

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

Personalised recommendations