in Democracy and Rule of Law in China's Shadow, edited by Brian Christopher Jones, UK: Hart Publishing, April 2021.
Abstract: Five hundred years ago, the subjects of the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon swore the oath of allegiance to their king: “We who are as good as you swear to you who are no better than we, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws; but if not, not.” In Hong Kong and Taiwan today, the ancient tradition of oath-taking still give rise to heated disputes surrounding the issues of national identity and regime legitimacy. This book chapter traces the series of events surrounding oath-taking disputes in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It considers the differences in relevant laws and judicial decisions in the two regions, and analyses the factors contributing to the contrast. Underlying the oath-taking controversies is the question, closely related to the right to self-determination/secession, of whether and how a constitutional and legal system can accommodate activities and claims opposing the very foundation upon which the existing constitutional framework operates. Responses from the authorities aimed at tackling the oath-taking issue may range from political negotiation to forceful suppression, which largely reveals the degree of authoritarian or democratic inclinations of a regime. This comparative study demonstrates that the way in which the oath-taking disputes have been handled in Hong Kong has exacerbated the inherent tension between democratic legitimacy and legality in this city. Chapter available from SSRN.