The central thesis of this study is derived from a pair of seemingly anomalous cases involving anti-high-speed-rail campaigns in Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively. While the unprecedentedly high degree of public participation in the anti-Express Rail Link movement in early 2010 stands in stark contrast with previous social movements in Hong Kong, the conspicuous absence in Taiwan of an organized force of opposition against the High Speed Rail development in the late 1990s also sets this case apart from other similar local contentious responses. By probing into the contrasting and distinctive cases of the high-speed rail controversies in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the cases of Choi Yuen Village and Liujia Village in particular, this study highlights the salient role of the political opportunity structure in determining the forms of political interaction with the state — namely, transgressive contention and contained contention. Contrary to the depiction in the “expanding political opportunity” literature, this study finds that while a constricting political opportunity structure encourages the emergence of transgressive contention, a further expanding of the political opportunity structure will indeed give rise to contained contention. Finally, this study also pinpoints the importance of organizational dynamics in determining the intensity of mobilization.
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