Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Ilai Saltzman

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This thesis seeks to uncover the ways in which China has seized political control of the HKSAR with the use of patron-client politics, before ultimately examining the growth of democracy within this patron-client system of governance. This goal was pursued with the intention of shedding light on the legitimacy of Chinese rule in HK and in order to consider the extent to which the HKSAR can really be called a democracy. In answering these questions, we consider both Chinese and HK history, as to understand how each region's political history has influenced governance in modern HK. We then move on to an in-depth analysis of what pro-Beijing and pro-democracy forces have each done to further their own agendas –what political and institutional successes and failures have each had, and to what degree of significance? We ultimately conclude that although Beijing governance, and consequently patrimonialism, is here to stay, democracy certainly has room for growth –In an attempt to balance electoral competitiveness and the patrimonialism, the HKSAR will continue to grow in unique ways that perhaps the world has not yet seen before. HK's political growth should matter not only to Hong Kongers, as it represents China’s first genuine attempt at experimenting with democracy, albeit in perhaps reserved ways. Furthermore, China's operations within Hong Kong’s more democratic arena have brought to light parts of its own character that otherwise may have remained shrouded in shadows. If China is ever to follow global trends towards democracy and perhaps pave the road for more to follow, we will certainly be able to trace the roots of change back to HK.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.