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Challenge to the Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong

Political Reforms, Internal Splits and the Legitimacy Deficit of the Government
Joseph Y. S. Cheng
p. 44-60


This article intends to examine the challenges facing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong today, as well as the general political and social situation in the territory. It argues that the deterioration and divisions within the pro-democracy movement may not be political gains for the pro-Beijing united front, as the political and social polarization poses serious problems for effective governance as well. An administration threatened by legitimacy deficit will find it increasingly difficult to deliver in terms of both economic development and social services, thus forcing itself into a vicious circle as unsatisfactory performance further worsens its legitimacy deficit.
Though Hong Kong people’s confidence in China and their trust for the Chinese leadership as well as their identification with the Mainland have been strengthening since the territory’s return to China, the latter’s strong backing for the HKSAR has become a double-edged sword. Hong Kong people realize that decisions on local political reforms are made in Beijing, and they also partly blame the Chinese authorities for the unsatisfactory performance of the HKSAR government which is picked by and accountable to Beijing. The lose-lose situation can only be reversed by the enlightenment of the Chinese leadership which, hopefully, would feel secure enough to allow genuine democracy in the territory.

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Bibliographical reference

Joseph Y. S. Cheng, « Challenge to the Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong », China Perspectives, 2011/2 | 2011, 44-60.

Electronic reference

Joseph Y. S. Cheng, « Challenge to the Pro-democracy Movement in Hong Kong », China Perspectives [Online], 2011/2 | 2011, Online since 30 June 2014, connection on 25 February 2018. URL :

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About the author

Joseph Y. S. Cheng

Chair Professor of Political Science at the City University of Hong Kong (Email: rcccrc@, editor of The Journal of Comparative Asian Development and the Hong Kong Journal of Social Sciences (香港社會科學學報, xianggang shehui kexue xuebao). One of his last books is: Joseph Y. S. Cheng (ed.), Whither China’s Democracy? Democratization in China since the Tiananmen Incident, Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong Press, 2011.

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