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Special feature

Explaining Localism in Post-handover Hong Kong: An Eventful Approach

Samson Yuen and Sanho Chung
p. 19-29


The pro-democracy movement in post-handover Hong Kong had long been an intense struggle between the hybrid regime and prodemocracy civil society. Since the early 2010s, a new political force, broadly known as the localists, has entered the political domain through a series of protest events and elections. However, just as they gained a foothold in politics, the hybrid regime swiftly moved in to clamp down on the nascent movement to keep them out of the political system. What explains the ebbs and flows of Hong Kong’s localist movement? This essay posits that localism is not an inevitable product of the macro-structural socio-political process, but an amalgam of ideas and action logics assembled sequentially through events and discursive constructions. We argue that localism first emerged through the interplay between antimainlandisation protests and both online and intellectual discourse, and officially ascended to the political stage after the Umbrella Movement. Despite their meteoric rise, localists’ militant actions have allowed the hybrid regime to marginalise the nascent force through legal and non-legal repression, which has in turn created a “divided structure of contestation” among the opposition.

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Bibliographical reference

Samson Yuen and Sanho Chung, « Explaining Localism in Post-handover Hong Kong: An Eventful Approach », China Perspectives, 2018/3 | 2018, 19-29.

Electronic reference

Samson Yuen and Sanho Chung, « Explaining Localism in Post-handover Hong Kong: An Eventful Approach », China Perspectives [Online], 2018/3 | 2018, Online since 01 September 2019, connection on 23 October 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the authors

Samson Yuen

Samson Yuen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.Room 202, 2/F, Dorothy Y L Wong Building, Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, NT, Hong Kong (

By this author

Sanho Chung

Sanho Chung is a research assistant at the Centre for Governance and Citizenship at the Education University of Hong Kong.Room B2-P-04, 10 Lo Ping Rd, Ting Kok, NT, Hong Kong (

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