Contesting “Law and Order”: Immigrants’ Encounters with “Rule of Law” in Postcolonial Hong Kong



This article investigates the “rule of law” as a sociocultural concept that has concrete effects on the lives of newly arrived Chinese mainland immigrants in postcolonial Hong Kong. I investigate a seeming paradox: how in Hong Kong the “rule of law”—seen as a key symbol of freedom—acted as a vehicle of oppression, and not just belonging, for recently arrived immigrants from mainland China. Through this discussion of how “law” served as a vehicle for immigrants’ both belonging to and contestation of the state, I also show how immigrants began to question the basic assumptions of freedom and fairness believed to be inherent to the practice of the rule of law in Hong Kong—as they grappled with novel understandings of the law and new possibilities of exercising rights-based claims.