State size and democratization in hybrid regimes: The Chinese island cities of Macau and Hong Kong

Ying-ho KWONG, Yee Hang Mathew WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of state size on level of democratization has been a topic of interest to political scientists. However, studies have largely focused on democratic regimes, leaving unexplored the implications of state size for the regime persistence of hybrid regimes. This article compares two Chinese island cities with hybrid regimes through political analysis supplemented by interviews, and argues that a smaller regime is more likely to be authoritarian than a larger one. The case of Macau shows that the very small size of a ‘microstate’ helps central authorities to exercise political control, stifle political pluralism, and monopolize opinions, all of which strengthen regime persistence. In contrast, the case of Hong Kong shows that a merely ‘small state’, a larger political entity, creates political polarization, encourages political competition, and diversifies opinions, resulting in a more confrontational state-society relationship. This paper contributes to the literature by examining the effect of state size on regime persistence in hybrid regimes and explaining political development in Macau and Hong Kong from an alternative geopolitical perspective. Copyright © 2017 ― Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-126
JournalIsland Studies Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017



Kwong, Y.-H., & Wong, M. Y. H. (2017). State size and democratization in hybrid regimes: The Chinese island cities of Macau and Hong Kong. Island Studies Journal, 12(2), 113-126. doi: 10.24043/isj.36


  • China
  • Democratization
  • Hong Kong
  • Hybrid regimes
  • Island cities
  • Macau
  • Smallness
  • State size