From colonialism to communism: the Christian Church’s response to Hong Kong’s 1997 handover

Ann Gillian Chu*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper explores the case study of how Christianity has shaped the ethical outlooks of Hong Kong around the 1997 handover. It addresses the question of the role of theology and ethics in the public sphere, especially how Christianity informs political realities in Hong Kong. The Christian Church’s varied response raises the question of how the Church in Hong Kong can improve its approach to socio-political issues and interactions with the post-colonial Hong Kong government. This paper argues for Hong Kong theologians to develop a theology that is most suitable for the Hong Kong context because its decolonisation process is unique compared to other former colonies. The effects of Hong Kong’s colonisation and subsequent decolonisation on the Christian Church and society at large are discussed, followed by an analysis of the Church’s attempts to react to the handover, pointing out several different approaches, such as migrating to the Western world, perceiving China as a mission field, and participating in social demonstrations. This paper acknowledges the heavy borrowing of foreign theology, and the pragmatism of the Hong Kong people, which leads to a lack of systematic teaching on how Christians should interact with socio-political issues. There is a need for the Church to take a more critical role in society, which requires collaboration with local theologians to shape a theological view that is suitable for Hong Kong Christians and society. Processing politics through the Christian ethical outlook allows for a dialogue with the government for the Christian Church to perform its prophetic role in society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Pages (from-to)88-101
JournalJournal of the Oxford Graduate Theological Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021


  • Theological ethics
  • Political theology
  • Public theology
  • World Christianity
  • Post-colonial studies
  • Hong Kong studies
  • 1997 handover


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