United front work and mechanisms of countermobilization in Hong Kong

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This article examines the Hong Kong regime’s mechanisms of countermobilization as a reaction to and preemptive strike against dissent. It reveals how united front work historically rooted in Chinese Communist Party apparatuses has penetrated into Hong Kong. The PRC’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong government have established a hierarchical yet dispersed platform to combine repression with outsourced contention. Hong Kong’s regime demonstrates its resilience in how it and the Liaison Office’s united front apparatus recruit nonstate actors to constrain opposition from below through both carrots and sticks. More broadly, the article unpacks how the regime’s mechanisms of patronage, counterpro-test, attrition, and stigmatization operate. While these regime repertoires have curtailed organized resistance during some periods, they have also eroded the regime’s legitimacy, exposing it to the re-eruption of protests. The article concludes by assessing how the pro-government united front alliance was utilized during the unprecedented summer of dissent in 2019 over a proposed extradition law.




Cheng, E. W. (2020). United front work and mechanisms of countermobilization in Hong Kong. China Journal, 83(1), 1–33. https://doi.org/10.1086/706603

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