The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). It enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems.” Under this principle, socialist policies of mainland China are not practiced in the HKSAR.
The Basic Law provides the guarantees to maintain Hong Kong’s existing way of life, including socioeconomic development, the rights and duties of Hong Kong people, the rule of law and other areas.
The Basic Law was put into effect July 1, 1997.
Q1: Are Hong Kong people running Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy?
A1: Hong Kong people are running Hong Kong in all areas in accordance with the Basic Law, except for defense and foreign affairs and other matters for which the Central Authorities are responsible under the Basic Law. We do not need to seek instructions from the Central People’s Government (CPG) in running our affairs within our autonomy. We are not even required to pay taxes to the CPG. (BL Articles 2; 12-17; 19; 22; 106)
Q2: What does the Basic Law say about democratic development in Hong Kong?
A2: The Basic Law sets out the blueprint for the democratic development of the HKSAR. The Chief Executive and members of the Legislative Council shall be returned by elections held locally. The method for selecting the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of the Chief Executive and all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. The Basic Law provides a mechanism to review the method for returning the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council after 2007. (BL Articles 45; 68; Annexes I and II)