Saturday, April 23, 2011
Hong Kong Basic Law
Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, or simply Hong Kong Basic Law, serves as the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The leading document in the law of Hong Kong, it was adopted on 4 April 1990 by the Seventh National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China, and went into effect on 1 July 1997 (replacing the Letters Patent and the Royal Instructions) when this former colony of United Kingdom was handed over to the PRC.
The Basic Law was drafted 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 19 December 1984. The Basic Law stipulates the basic policies of the PRC towards the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As agreed between the PRC and the United Kingdom in the Joint Declaration, in accordance with the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, socialism as practised in the PRC would not be extended to Hong Kong. Instead, Hong Kong would continue its previous capitalist system and its way of life for a period of 50 years after 1997. A number of freedoms and rights of the Hong Kong residents are also protected under the Basic Law.
Although the Basic Law has not been amended so far since its promulgation, the procedures for amendments to the Basic Law are laid out in Article 159. No amendments can "contravene the established basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong".
The power to propose amendments is granted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council of the People's Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The proposed amendments require the approval of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, two thirds of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong members and two thirds of the deputies representing Hong Kong in the National People's Congress. If initiated within Hong Kong, then the amendments can only be proposed by either the Legislative Council of Hong Kong or the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. In the former case, the amendment can be suggested by any member and debated and voted upon in accordance with the Standing Orders, after which it is voted upon by the Hong Kong deputies to the NPC, before reaching the Chief Executive for his/her approval. In the latter case, the Chief Executive suggests the amendment, which is then debated and voted upon by both the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong deputies to the NPC. If initiated within the NPC, the suggested amendment must first be placed on the agenda by the Presidium before being debated and voted upon. Either way, the amendment must also be approved by the other side (e.g. by the NPC for those amendments initiated within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region).