Hong Kong Law Fellow  (Georgetown) | PhD Candidate (SOAS) | MSc (LSE) | Chevening Scholar



Researcher and Analyst in Human Rights, Law, Politics in Hong Kong and China

I was born and grew up in Hong Kong. I decided to study politics in 2008 as I have been enthusiastic in democratic development of Hong Kong since the outbreak of the 500,000+ people's march in 2003. As an undergraduate student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I served as the President of Student Union in CUHK and the Convenor of Civil Human Rights Front. In 2012, I received Chevening Postgraduate Scholarship to study a master's degree in political sociology at London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012/13. Few years after teaching and assisting research in higher education institutes, I began my doctoral studies at SOAS University of London since 2017. Apart from my academic pursuit, I have engaged in human rights advocacy in Hong Kong since 2009. By joint efforts with scholars and human rights observers, I co-founded “Hong Kong Election Observation Project”. I also contribute to opinion columns in local newspaper and serve as a commentator on public affairs and human rights issues in Chinese and English media outlets. I am currently a research fellow on Hong Kong Law at the Center for Asian Law in Georgetown University Law Center.


Articles, Books and Policy Reports

My doctoral research focuses on the dynamics of legal transplant and legal professionalism in authoritarian regimes. I also study law and politics, social movement, contentious politics and electoral integrity in Hong Kong and China.

Law and Politics

Unravelling Authoritarian Rule of Law in Hong Kong: From Post-Umbrella Resistance to the Anti-Extradition Bill Protests

Contentious Politics

Solidarity and Implications of a Leaderless Movement in Hong Kong: Its Strengths and Limitations

The Rule of Law

Lady Justice or the Golden Calf? The “China Factor” in Hong Kong's Legal System

Lai, Yan-ho (2019), "Lady Justice or the golden calf? The “China factor” in Hong Kong’s legal system", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 178-196. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-01-2019-0005


New Publications

(2022). “From Rule of Law to Rule by Fear: An Annual Review of the National Security Law in Hong Kong” in Joseph Yu-shek Cheng, Torbjörn Lodén and Larissa Stünkel (eds), Politics in East Asia Today: Between Democracy, Debates, and Discourse (Speical Paper). Stockholm: Institute for Security and Development Policy, pp. 17-27.

(2022) "Hong Kong: How Colonial-era Laws Are Being Used to Shut Down Independent Journalism" The Conversation, 10 January 2022. (Lead author, co-authored with Yuen Chan)

(2021) The Tong Ying-kit NSL Verdict: An International and Comparative Law Analysis (A GCAL Briefing Paper), Center for Asian Law, Georgetown University Law Center, D.C. Washington, 19 October (Co-authored with Thomas E. Kellogg). 

(2021) “NSL Verdict a Major Blow to Free Speech in Hong KongLawfare, 19 November. (Lead author, co-authored with Thomas E. Kellogg)

(2021) "Hong Kong's Sedition Law is Back" The Diplomat, 3 September. 

(2021) “Hong Kong Democracy Protester’s Sentencing Sets a Harsh Precedent for National Security LawThe Conversation, 30 July.

(2021) "Hong Kong’s National Security Law and the Right to a Fair Trial: Mission Impossible?" Lawfare, 15 July (Co-authored with Thomas E. Kellogg).

(2021) Hong Kong's National Security Law and the Right to Fair Trial: A GCAL Briefing Paper, Center for Asian Law, Georgetown University Law Center, D.C. Washington, 28 June. (Co-authored with Lydia Wong and Thomas E. Kellogg)

Selected Conference Papers

2021. “Authoritarian Legal Transplant and Judicial Independence in Sub-national Governance: The Case of Hong Kong” International Society of Public Law Conference 2021.

2021. “Solidarity and Resilience of Hong Kong's Anti-authoritarian Movement: Lessons and Prospects” The May 18 Uprising Seoul Memorial Society 41st Anniversary Conference: After 5.18: Social Movements and Political Thoughts. Seoul: Yonsei University. 

2020. “Professional Resistance and Lawyers’ Activism: Cause Lawyering in Hong Kong’s Anti-extradition Protest 2019” Law and Society Association Annual Conference 2020. Colorado: University of Denver.

2019. “State-society Contention under Authoritarianism: The Case of Anti-extradition Protest in Hong Kong” Civil Society in Asia: International Conference in Melbourne 3. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

2018. “Depoliticising Contentious Politics by Law: A critical evaluation of legal politics in Post-colonial Hong Kong” International Society of Public Law Conference 2018. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong.


Email address: yl1445@georgetown.edu