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: Do Hong Kong people still enjoy a wide range of personal freedoms?
A1: Chapter III of the Basic Law guarantees a wide range of personal freedoms to be enjoyed by Hong Kong people. The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labor conventions as applied to Hong Kong continue to remain in force. The extensive personal freedoms of Hong Kong people is borne out by, for instance, the facts that demonstrations are a part of every-day life in Hong Kong, and that newspapers regularly comment on or criticize government decisions and policies and people say what they want in Hong Kong's open society. (BL Articles 27-39)
Q2: Do Hong Kong residents have the right to vote and to stand for election?
A2: Permanent residents of Hong Kong have the right to vote and stand for elections in accordance with the Basic Law. The fourth Legislative Council of the HKSAR was elected on September 7, 2008. 201 candidates stood for the election. A total of 1.52 million geographical constituency voters turned out to vote, representing 45.2% of registered voters in the geographical constituencies. 30 members were returned from five geographical constituencies, while the other 30 members were returned from 28 functional constituencies. (BL Article 26)