Hong Kong’s International Status: No Longer a Middleman

Photo source: Nikkei Asian Review

Citation: Hak Yin Li, “Hong Kong’s international status: No longer a middleman”, EAI Background Briefs 1452 (2019): 1-14.

Abstract: This policy paper investigates the growing Chinese interests in leveraging Hong Kong’s international status as a non-sovereign entity to convey diplomatic signals and gestures on behalf of Beijing. Through meticulously selected case studies using official and secondary sources, this paper identifies the emergence of semi-official and non-official channels through which Hong Kong can aid China in informal diplomatic communications and nation branding. The empirical evidence presented includes the establishment of the China-US Exchange Foundation by former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, lobby activities conducted by the China Energy Fund Committee through former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho, American naval port visits to Hong Kong, ice-breaking meetings between Chinese and Philippine delegates held in Hong Kong, and the seizure of Singapore’s armored vehicles in Hong Kong. The findings presented in this paper contribute to policy debates surrounding the status of Hong Kong as a political enclave of Western countries in Asia. Moreover, they serve as a guide for the formulation of evidence-based policies that promote diplomatic exchanges and political communications between China and Western countries through Hong Kong. By shedding light on the evolving role of Hong Kong in facilitating China’s diplomatic engagements, this policy paper provides insights that can inform policymakers and stakeholders in developing strategies for effective engagement and cooperation in the changing dynamics of global diplomacy.

EAI Background Briefs are policy-oriented research papers circulated to government. They are available for reference in National Library or NUS Library.