Authoritarian Legal Transplant and Judicial Independence in Sub-national Governance: The Case of Hong Kong

This paper explains how authoritarian regimes weaken the rule of law in its subnational territories by ‘authoritarian legal transplant’, which refers to the transplanting of legal ideology and institutions from an authoritarian sovereign state to a subnational polity. Authoritarian legal transplant helps transplant states to influence the rule of law of recipient states without losing their practices of judicial independence. The case of Hong Kong demonstrates how the Chinese sovereign state employs authoritarian legal transplant by (1) constitutional interpretations; (2) constitutional determination; (3) political-legal propaganda; (4) institutionalisation of socialist legal ideology; (5) removal of constitutional boundaries; and (6) direct transplant of national laws. Consequently, the judicial system is independently weakened and succumbed to the sovereignty of China. This paper contributes to the study of the rule of law and judicial independence in subnational governance today.