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Hong Kong in Turmoil: Defining the Contours of Sovereignty in China Today

February 13 @ 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

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Weatherhead East Asian Institute Event

Please join us for a lecture with:

Allen Carlson, Associate Professor, Cornell University

Ja-Ian Chong, Associate Professor, National University of Singapore

Victoria Tin-bor Hui, Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame


Moderated by:

Maria Adele Carrai, Associate Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Marie Curie Fellow, KU Leuven School of Law


The current turmoil in Hong Kong and the tension between Chinese Central Government and the ex-British colony have to do with the definition of sovereignty. The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong occurred at midnight on 1 July 1997, when the United Kingdom ended administration for the colony of Hong Kong and returned control of the territory to China. However, the sovereignty question started well before, with the Treaty of Nanjing of 1842 that forced China to cede Hong Kong to Great Britain and that gave rise to the system of unequal treaties. Ever since a quest for sovereignty has characterized the modern history of China up to this very present. By bringing together leading scholars that have written about sovereignty in China, the Roundtable aims at stimulating discussion and reflection about the legacies of history and the use and understanding of sovereignty in China today, with particular reference to Hong Kong.


About the Speakers:

Allen Carlson is an Associate Professor in Cornell University’s Government Department. He was granted his PhD from Yale University’s Political Science Department. His undergraduate degree is from Colby College. In 2005 he was chosen to participate in the National Committee’s Public Intellectuals Program, and he currently serves as Director of Cornell’s China and Asia Pacific Studies program and advisor of its East Asia Program. Carlson is currently working on a project exploring the issue of nontraditional security in China’s emerging relationship with the rest of the international system.


Ja Ian Chong is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. He previously worked at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore and was a Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program fellow. Dr. Chong’s work crosses the fields of international relations, comparative politics, and political sociology, with a focus on security issues relating to Asia, China, and the United States. He has particular interest in security cooperation, major power rivalry, and external intervention in domestic politics. Dr. Chong follows the interplay of social movements, political liberalization and democratic backsliding, and foreign policy in Asia closely. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute where he is working on a project comparing regional reactions to US-China competition in East Asia.


Victoria Tin-bor Hui received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and her B.SSc. in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Hui’s core research examines the centrality of war in the formation and transformation of “China” in the long span of history. She is the author of War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2005). She has also published “Toward a Dynamic Theory of International Politics” in International Organization, “Testing Balance of Power Theory in World History” in the European Journal of International Relations, “The Emergence and Demise of Nascent Constitutional Rights” in The Journal of Political Philosophy, “Building Castles in the Sand” in the Chinese Journal of International Politics, “History and Thought in China’s Traditions” in the Journal of Chinese Political Science, and book chapters “How Tilly’s Warfare Paradigm Is Revolutionizing the Study of Chinese State-Making,” “Cultural Diversity and Coercive Cultural Homogenization in Chinese History,” “The China Dream: Revival of What Historical Greatness?”, “Confucian Pacifism or Confucian Confusion?”, “The Triumph of Domination in the Ancient Chinese System” and “Problematizing Sovereignty.” Hui also studies contentious politics. As a native from Hong Kong, she has written “Will China Crush the Protests in Hong Kong? Why Beijing Doesn’t Need to Send in the Troops” in Foreign Affairs and “Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement: The Protest and Beyond” in the Journal of Democracy. She also maintains a blog on Hong Kong https://victoriatbhui.wordpress.com. She has extensively commented on Hong Kong politics in the media including the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, ChinaFile, ABC, the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, Bloomberg, Sky News, NPR, Vox, and the Christian Science Monitor.


This is a Weatherhead East Asian Institute Lectures and Panels event.

No registration Required



February 13, 2020

4:30 PM-6:30 PM



International Affairs Building, Room 918

420 W 118th Street


Cosponsored by: Columbia-Harvard China and The World Program and the European Institute at Columbia University


February 13
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
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