Jayne RODGERS (University of Leeds), New Politics? Activism and Communication in Post-Colonial Hong Kong, English/17 Pages, December 2003.
The impact of the Internet on the political arena has been widely discussed in recent years. How access to this technology affects the relationships between individuals, organizations, and governments is the subject of much debate. Some argue that the Internet fundamentally changes the nature of politics by giving citizens greater access to governmental processes. Others suggest that the degree of control governments have over political and legislative systems limits the potential of the Internet as a tool for individual empowerment. This paper looks at the use emergent of the Internet as a mechanism for political participation in Hong Kong, an area that provides some unusual dimensions to these ongoing debates. As a former British colony and now part of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong has little in the way of recorded, overt political activism by citizens. As a world economic center, however, Hong Kong has high Internet penetration and a largely well-educated population, factors which may be expected to contribute to both political awareness and engagement in political processes. This paper explores differing perceptions of activism in Hong Kong and then examines how one organization, Civic Exchange, is attempting to promote political awareness and engagement in the region.