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Hong Kong Basic Law

The Basic Law of Hong Kong serves as the constitution of Hong Kong. It was adopted on April 4, 1990 by the Seventh National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China, with effect as of July 1, 1997.

On July 1, 1997, Great Britain acceded the former colony of Hong Kong and the New Territories to the People's Republic of China.

This was in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong (The Joint Declaration), signed between the Chinese and British governments on December 19, 1984. The Joint Declaration states the basic policies of the People's Republic of China (PRC) regarding Hong Kong after the handover in 1997. In accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" agreed between the United Kingdom] and the People's Republic of China, the PRC's domestic brand of socialism) (the new name for the former colony), and Hong Kong's capitalist system and its quasi-democratic institutions shall remain intact for a period of 50 years. The Joint Declaration provides that these basic policies shall be stipulated in the Basic Law of the HKSAR.

General Principles

  • The HKSAR has a high degree of autonomy and enjoys executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. (BL Article 2) This meant that the former recourse to the English Privy Council was abolished.

  • The executive authorities and legislature of the HKSAR shall be composed of permanent residents of Hong Kong. (BL Article 3)

  • The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the HKSAR, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years. (BL Article 5)

  • The laws previously in force in Hong Kong, that is, the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary law[?] (such as Chinese clan law) shall be maintained, except for any that contravene the Basic Law and subject to any amendment by the legislature of the HKSAR. (BL Article 8)

  • The HKSAR shall protect the right of ownership of private property in accordance with law. (BL Article 6)

  • All Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law. Permanent residents of the HKSAR shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law. (BL Articles 25-26)

  • The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable. No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention[?] or imprisonment. Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited. Torture of any resident or arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of the life of any resident shall be prohibited. (BL Article 28)

  • The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labour conventions as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the HKSAR. (BL Article 39)

Although the PRC has responsibility for Hong Kong's foreign relations and defence, Hong Kong is permitted to participate in international organizations or conferences in appropriate fields limited to states and affecting the HKSAR, or may attend in such other capacity as may be permitted by the PRC government and the international organization or conference concerned, and may express their views, using the name "Hong Kong, China". The HKSAR may also , using the name "Hong Kong, China", participate in international organizations and conferences not limited to states.

See also: Basic Law

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