A Ruling Idea of the Time? The Rule of Law in Pre- and Post-1997 Hong Kong

Carol Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores the role played by the ideology of the rule of law
in British rule in Hong Kong, especially in the resistance to Mainland
China’s “recolonization” of the territory since 1997 (see Gary Chi-hung
Luk’s introduction for a clarification of the concept). Early British colonial
policy in Hong Kong was that its “native people” would aspire to equality
with European civilizations by adopting the values, institutions, and
habits of the British way of life. Central to this conception of colonization
was that colonial people would enjoy all the civil, social, economic, and
religious liberties of England. The rule of law would attach the Chinese
to colonial rule, securing the hearts, minds, and souls of the local population,
and (ideally) their allegiance to the British crown. They would be
impressed by “the protection of equal laws, and, in a word, all the best
fruits of science and civilization transplanted direct from the European
headquarters.”Although allegiance to the British crown was never fully
secured, by the time the British left Hong Kong in 1997, they had indeed
succeeded in (re)attaching the local population to the rule of law, so much
so that in the succeeding years, it was to prove an intractable obstacle to
rule by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom a British to a Chinese Colony?
Subtitle of host publicationHong Kong before and after the 1997 Handover
EditorsGary Chi-hung Luk
Place of PublicationCalifornia
PublisherInstitute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Number of pages30
VolumeCRM 75
ISBN (Electronic)9781557291776
ISBN (Print)9781557291769
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Publication series

NameChina Research Monographs
PublisherInstitute of East Asian Studies - University of California, Berkeley
NumberCRM 75


  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • rule of law
  • identity


Dive into the research topics of 'A Ruling Idea of the Time? The Rule of Law in Pre- and Post-1997 Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this