Contesting Visions of Hong Kong’s Rule of Law and Young People’s Political Discontent

Man Yee Karen Lee, Yan Lam Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This empirical study shows age makes a difference in how people evaluate Hong Kong’s legal and political institutions amid the former British colony’s chronic democratic deficit and rising political discontent since its return to Chinese rule in 1997. Using data from a 2015 survey of 3525 local residents conducted 6 months after the end of the ‘Umbrella Movement’ – a pro-democracy protest lasting 79 days, it reveals a glaring gap between older and younger people in their evaluations of Hong Kong’s electoral system and human rights, and more importantly, the latter’s rising localist sentiment. If perceived illegitimacy of a regime discourages legal compliance, these findings do not bode well for Hong Kong’s long-term governance. The largely youth-led protests that erupted in the summer of 2019 against a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extradition to Mainland China, which plunged the city into its worst political crisis since 1997, are ominous signs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)858-880
Number of pages23
JournalSocial and Legal Studies
Issue number6
Early online date20 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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