Situating Hong Kong in International Politics through Documentary Filmmaking: the Questions of Agency and Representation

Does Hong Kong matter to International Relations (IR) as a discipline? Unlike most former colonies, people in Hong Kong were deprived of the chance to decide their future when the colonial rule came to an end. The agreement between the UK and the People’s Republic of China creates a gap between ‘international’ and ‘politics’ for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, grants Hong Kong constitutional rights to participate in international organisations ‘as a member of its own’ (Articles 116 and 151) and yet Article 13 denies Hong Kong’s agency in foreign affairs. Notably, during the 2019 anti-Extradition Amendment Bill legislation movement, protesters succeeded to reframe the issue of Hong Kong as a matter of international attention. Malte Kaeding and Heidi Wang-Kaeding use documentary filmmaking as an innovative method to capture stories and voices of activists of the so-called localist movement which challenges the status quo in China-Hong Kong relations and imagines creative futures for the city. They find, in Chris Patten’s 1996 words, that the people of Hong Kong are not ‘passive beneficiaries or victims of whatever China wants to do’.

Malte Philipp Kaeding is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of Surrey. Heidi Wang-Kaeding is Lecturer in International Relations, School of Social, Political and Global Studies, Keele University.