From Imperial Frontier To Sovereign Territory: Discovering The (Anti)Federal Idea In China’s Modern Territorial Constitutional Imaginary

Fourth SIS-Eurac Annual Lecture on Federalism
16 dicembre 2020
16 dicembre 2020

The School of International Studies (University of Trento) and the Institute for Comparative Federalism (Eurac Research) jointly convene the Fourth SIS-Eurac Annual Lecture on Federalism

From Imperial Frontier To Sovereign Territory: Discovering The (Anti)Federal Idea In China’s Modern Territorial Constitutional Imaginary

  • Invited Speaker: Ming-Sung Kuo, University of Warwick
  • Chair: Jens Woelk, School of International Studies (University of Trento)

The Lecture aims to shed light on how China has (re)imagined the geographical distribution of authority on its path toward modern statehood by unpacking the debate surrounding the constitutional status of Hong Kong in the Chinese territorial constitution. Challenging the conventional wisdom that China is impervious to the federal idea, it makes a threefold argument. First, elements of federalism do exist in China as intimated in its contemporary territorial constitution in respect of Hong Kong but such (imperfect) intimations have become nearly invisible as the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong is traveling in the opposite direction. Second, the opposite development is attributable to the antifederal idea embedded in China’s modern constitutional imaginary that has been shaped by its multifaceted experience with federalism in history. Under the antifederal idea, intimations of federalism in China’s territorial constitution are far from the bridge to a full-fledged Chinese federation but only meant to be instrumental and transitional. Third, the antifederal idea reflects China’s modern territorial constitutional imaginary under which variegated imperial frontiers are reimagined as homogenized sovereign territory. It is concluded that constitutional imaginary holds the key to China’s complex relationship with the federal idea.

Ming-Sung Kuo is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Warvick. Invited Speaker:His scholarship on theory of public international law, global constitutionalism and global administrative law, European constitutionalism and integration, and comparative constitutional law and politics, has appeared in Constellations, International Journal of Constitutional Law, European Journal of International Law, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Global Constitutionalism, Leiden Journal of International Law, Ratio Juris, among other leading journals.  He earned his JSD and a second LLM from Yale after receiving his LLB and an LLM from National Taiwan University.  Dr. Kuo previously held a Max Weber Fellowship at European University Institute in Florence, a visiting fellowship at Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, and a stipendary visiting scholarship with iCourts at University of Copenhagen.  He was a visiting scholar with CALS at NUS Law in September 2019.


Pre-registration is closed.


The event will be live-streamed also on the SIS YouTube channel at


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