HKUST PPOL Newsletter Fall 2023

35 Conference and Events and Greater China Response to Covid-19” by Prof. Richard Cullen. The keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Hualing Fu with Prof. Xiangwei Wang as the discussant. Prof. Fu shared with the audience the fruit of his study on the micro-institutions at the grass-root level and interaction between the state and society in China during the Covid-19 pandemic, the exercise of infrastructural power in mainland China, delineating the reason for the high political trust of Chinese people towards the government during the Covid-19 pandemic evidenced in China’s efficiency to mobilize people with minimal resistance, the social context for the initial success of zero-Covid policy in China in the early months and years of the pandemic, and why the zero-Covid policy failed in the case of Shanghai lockdown and consequently the end of the zero-Covid policy. Very important and valuable sociopolitical and legal concepts and viewpoints were brought up during Prof. Fu’s keynote, which was an intellectual feast for the audience. Prof. Wang shared with the audience his valuable firsthand experience during the Covid-19 pandemic in mainland China, and he witnessed the immense power of street officials in carrying out the zeroCovid policy and shared his views on the impact of the zero-Covid policy in mainland China. Prof. Cullen gave an overview of his chronological and event-based chapter about Hong Kong during the pandemic, mainly on vaccination, zero-Covid, living with Covid, as well as Covid and Hong Kong’s social contract. Prof. Cullen pointed out that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Singapore all run particularly sound public finance systems, so they could be cushioned from the pandemic by relying on fiscal reserves rather than borrowing heavily as in the case of most Western jurisdictions. About social contracts in Hong Kong, Prof. Cullen quoted Barrington Moore’s advanced version of class analysis that certain societal structures influence the primary protocols of a given social contract; this argument holds that operational political regimes are profoundly shaped by the social structure of a given jurisdiction. Prof. Cullen said the merits of Hong Kong’s primary Covid management policy had been intensely debated, but the well-being of the lowerincome population has been prioritized in Hong Kong during the pandemic. Prof. Fielding pointed out the great contrast between the response of governments of the Western countries and those in Greater China, while the West rapidly adopted ‘living with Covid’, it did so in a post hoc way, and the laissez-faire attitude of governance to the infection to gain a foothold was a failure from the beginning. Regarding vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong, Prof. Fielding pointed out the importance of trust, that trust in the government goes hand in hand with what the government recommends. The keynote speeches were followed by a Panel Discussion chaired by Prof. Naubahar Sharif; some thought-provoking questions were raised during the discussion session and encouraged the audience to think and reflect on the lessons learned from the pandemic in the past three years. The book launch concluded with great success. Prof. Naubahar Sharif chaired the panel discussion Prof. Richard Fielding