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“One Country, Two Systems” and The Basic Law

Under “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong is part of China but retains its own systems and way of life. The Basic Law - Hong Kong’s constitutional document – gives legal effect to the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. The Basic Law came into effect on 1 July 1997 with the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR).

The Basic Law guarantees:
  • The continuation of the common law system that has been practised in Hong Kong for more than 170 years
  • Fundamental rights and freedoms including: equality before the law; freedom of movement; freedom of conscience and religious belief; freedom of speech; and privacy of communication
  • Everyone in Hong Kong is equal before the law
  • Access to the courts, right to confidential legal advice and choice of lawyers for everyone
  • An independent judiciary and the power of final adjudication by the Court of Final Appeal (CFA). The CFA may include non-permanent judges from other common law jurisdictions
  • English and Chinese as official languages. Local legislation is enacted bilingually and cases in Hong Kong may be heard in English or Chinese
  • Courts exercise judicial power independently, free from interference. Members of the Judiciary are immune from legal action in the course of their judicial functions
  • High degree of autonomy in areas such as the economy, external affairs as well as education, science, culture, sports, religion, labour and social services

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