A tale of two transitions : Hong Kong, Macau and Sino-European relations


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


The July 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China and the similarly planned handover in December 1999 of Macau to China mark a new phase in Sino-European relations. Not only will there be continuity, primarily through the continuing commercial interests of the Europeans, but also there will be some new areas of involvement, particularly in political affairs, which Europeans have tended to leave to the two colonial powers, Britain and Portugal respectively, to deal with in the past. All the major European states have a significant commercial interest in Hong Kong which acts as a trading, financial and service centre as well as a stepping stone into the China market. European businesses have an interest in the maintenance of Hong Kong's open market-economy system and a high degree of autonomy, underpinned by the rule of law. Macau has far less importance economically to the Europeans and the political contention has also been downplayed by comparison wiih the Hong Kong case. The European Union is pursuing two objectives towards China: to involve it as a responsible partner in the international system and to develop commercial opportunities in its vast market. Hong Kong and, to a lesser extent, Macau can play a role in both these respects. Hong Kong will continue to play its multiple roles as a commercial facilitator for China's modernisation and as a conduit for Europe's commercial activity there, but, at the same time, political issues inside Hong Kong may well intrude into the Sino-European relationship to an extent that was never seen prior to 1997.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalEast- West Dialogue = 東西對話
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Earlier versions of the Hong Kong component of this paper have been presented at a conference organised by the Instituto de Estudos Estrategicos e Internacionais, held in June 1996 at Arrabida, Portugal, and a conference organised by the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan College, Hong Kong, in September 1996, and also published in New Asia, Summer 1997 issue, pp. 70-85.


Dive into the research topics of 'A tale of two transitions : Hong Kong, Macau and Sino-European relations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this