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The Practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The Information Office of the State Council, or China's Cabinet, issued a white paper on the practice of the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Following is the full text:
The Practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" Policy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Information Office of the State Council
The People's Republic of China
June 2014, Beijing
I. Hong Kong's Smooth Return to China
II. Establishment of the Special Administrative Region System in Hong Kong
III. Comprehensive Progress Made in Various Undertakings in the HKSAR
IV. Efforts Made by the Central Government to Ensure the Prosperity and Development of the HKSAR
V. Fully and Accurately Understanding and Implementing the Policy of "One Country, Two Systems"
"One country, two systems" is a basic state policy the Chinese government has adopted to realize the peaceful reunification of the country. Following this principle, the Chinese government successfully solved the question of Hong Kong through diplomatic negotiations with the British government, and resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, fulfilling the common aspiration of the Chinese people for the recovery of Hong Kong. As a result, Hong Kong got rid of colonial rule and returned to the embrace of the motherland, and embarked on the broad road of common development with the mainland, as they complemented each other's advantages.
Hong Kong's return to the motherland turned "one country, two systems" from a scientific concept into vivid reality. The central government strictly adheres to the Basic Law of Hong Kong, earnestly performs its constitutional duties and stands firm in supporting the administration of the chief executive and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in accordance with the law. The HKSAR exercises a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law, and is vested with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The previous capitalist system and way of life remain unchanged, and most laws continue to apply. Hong Kong continues to prosper, its society remains stable, and full development is being witnessed in all undertakings. The "one country, two systems" policy enjoys growing popularity in Hong Kong, winning the wholehearted support from Hong Kong compatriots as well as people in all other parts of China. It is also thought highly by the international community.
"One country, two systems" is a new domain in which we constantly explore new possibilities and make new progress in pioneering spirit. A summary of the policy's implementation in the HKSAR, and a comprehensive and correct understanding and implementation of the policy will prove useful for safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests, for maintaining long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, and for further promoting the "one country, two systems" practice along the correct track of development.
I. Hong Kong's Smooth Return to China
In the early 1980s, China's state leader Deng Xiaoping put forward the scientific concept known as "one country, two systems" in an effort to realize the peaceful reunification of China, and this ingenious design was first applied to solve the question of Hong Kong. According to Deng Xiaoping, "one country, two systems" means there is only but one China and under this premise the mainland adheres to the socialist system while Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan may retain their capitalist systems over a long time to come.
On December 4, 1982, the Fifth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress (NPC) endorsed a new Constitution of the People's Republic of China. Its Article 31 provides, "The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People's Congress in the light of the specific conditions." Giving expression to the "one country, two systems" concept, this Article provides the constitutional basis for the establishment of special administrative regions in certain areas that adopt different social systems and different policies from those on the mainland, as the Chinese government makes efforts to realize the peaceful reunification of China. After in-depth investigations and research, the Chinese government formulated 12 basic policies regarding the question of Hong Kong, known as the "12 Principles," in early 1983. The main contents were: (1) The Chinese government decided to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong as of July 1, 1997. (2) After resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the central government would establish a special administrative region in Hong Kong in accordance with the provisions in Article 31 of the Constitution. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would be directly under the authority of the Central People's Government and would enjoy a high degree of autonomy. (3) The HKSAR would be vested with legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The laws, decrees and regulations currently in force in Hong Kong would remain basically unchanged. (4) The government of the HKSAR would be composed of local inhabitants. The principal officials would be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government. Those previously working in the public and police services in the government departments of Hong Kong may remain in employment. British and other foreign nationals may also be employed to serve as advisers to government departments of the HKSAR. (5) The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong would remain unchanged, and so would the life-style. Freedoms, including those of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, and of religious belief would be ensured in the HKSAR. Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment would be protected by law. (6) The HKSAR would retain the status of a free port and a separate customs territory. (7) The HKSAR would retain the status of a financial center, and its markets for foreign exchange, gold, securities and futures would continue. There would continue to be a free flow of capital, and the Hong Kong dollar would continue to circulate and remain freely convertible. (8) The HKSAR would have independent finances. (9) The HKSAR may establish mutually beneficial economic relations with the United Kingdom, whose economic interests in Hong Kong would be given due regard. (10) Using the name "Hong Kong, China," the HKSAR may on its own maintain and develop economic and cultural relations and conclude relevant agreements with states, regions and relevant international organizations. The government of the HKSAR may itself issue travel documents for entry into and exit from Hong Kong. (11) The maintenance of public order in the HKSAR would be the responsibility of the government of the HKSAR. And (12) the above-stated policies would be stipulated in the Basic Law of the HKSAR by the NPC of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and they would remain unchanged for 50 years.
During his meeting with the visiting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on September 24, 1982, Deng Xiaoping made clear the Chinese government's position on the question of Hong Kong, pointing out that sovereignty was not a matter for discussion and that China would take back Hong Kong in 1997. It was under this premise that China and Britain would negotiate to ensure the smooth transfer of Hong Kong and clarify what was to be done about Hong Kong 15 years later. This marked the beginning of the negotiations between China and Britain on the question of Hong Kong. On December 19, 1984, after 22 rounds of negotiations, the governments of China and Britain signed the Joint Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Question of Hong Kong in Beijing, confirming that the government of the PRC would resume its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong with effect from July 1, 1997. The Chinese government also made clear in the Joint Declaration its basic policies regarding Hong Kong based on the "12 Principles." The signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration marked the entry of Hong Kong into a 13-year transition period before its return to China. During this period, the Chinese government unswervingly followed the "one country, two systems" policy, closely relied on the Hong Kong compatriots, and resolutely held off interference to promote the preparation work for Hong Kong's return.
On April 10, 1985, the Third Session of the Sixth NPC decided to form the Drafting Committee for the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the PRC. In July, the Drafting Committee began its work. It completed its mission in February 1990, taking four years and eight months to develop the Basic Law of Hong Kong. The drafting of the Basic Law of Hong Kong was highly democratic and open, and the compatriots of Hong Kong were widely involved. Twenty-three of the 59 members of the Drafting Committee came from various walks of life in Hong Kong, and the Drafting Committee entrusted its Hong Kong members to set up a 180-member counseling committee in Hong Kong to collect the views and opinions of the people of Hong Kong. In April 1988, the Drafting Committee published the Basic Law of Hong Kong (draft) for comments, and in February 1989 the Standing Committee of the NPC made public the Basic Law of the HKSAR (draft) and twice widely solicited views in Hong Kong and on the mainland. People from all walks of life in Hong Kong and the mainland took active part in the deliberation and discussion of the draft, and in Hong Kong alone nearly 80,000 files of views and comments were collected. The Basic Law of Hong Kong embodies the common will of all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, and encapsulates the wisdom of the Chinese nation.
On April 4, 1990, the Third Session of the Seventh NPC passed the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, and made the decision to establish the HKSAR. The Basic Law of the HKSAR is a basic law formulated in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. It stipulates the system and policies to be instituted in the HKSAR, and is the legalization and institutionalization of the "one country, two systems" policy. It also provides a legal basis for the implementation of "one country, two systems" in the HKSAR. The Basic Law was lauded by Deng Xiaoping as a "law of historic and international significance" and "a creative masterpiece."
Following the promulgation of the Basic Law, the Chinese government began preparation work for the establishment of the HKSAR. In July 1993, the NPC Standing Committee authorized the formation of the Preliminary Working Commission of the Preparatory Committee of the HKSAR (the Preliminary Working Commission). In January 1996, the Preparatory Committee of the HKSAR of the NPC (the Preparatory Committee) was established. Both the commission and the committee did a great deal of work for the smooth transition and transfer of government in Hong Kong.
On July 1, 1997, the Chinese government resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. At the same time, the HKSAR was established and the Basic Law came into effect. Hong Kong entered a new epoch characterized by "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy. As members of the big Chinese family, the people of Hong Kong and the people of the mainland share the pride and glory of the great mother country, and bear the common responsibility and mission of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
II. Establishment of the Special Administrative Region System in Hong Kong
The system of the special administrative region, as prescribed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, is a special administrative system developed by the state for certain regions. Under this system, the central government exercises overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR, including the powers directly exercised by the central government, and the powers delegated to the HKSAR by the central government to enable it to exercise a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law. The central government has the power of oversight over the exercise of a high degree of autonomy in the HKSAR.
1. The Central Leadership Directly Exercises Jurisdiction over the HKSAR in Accordance with the Law
As prescribed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, the organs of power by which the central leadership directly exercises jurisdiction over the HKSAR are the NPC and its Standing Committee, the president of the state, the Central People's Government, and the Central Military Commission. The NPC decided on the establishment of the HKSAR, formulated the Basic Law of the HKSAR to prescribe the system to be instituted in the HKSAR, and has the power of amendment to the Basic Law. The NPC Standing Committee has the power of interpretation regarding the Basic Law of the HKSAR, the power of decision on revising the selection methods of the chief executive and the Legislative Council of the HKSAR, the power of supervision over the laws formulated by the legislative organs of the HKSAR, the power of decision on the HKSAR entering a state of emergency, and the power of making new authorization for the HKSAR. The HKSAR comes directly under the Central People's Government, and its chief executive is accountable to the Central People's Government. The Central People's Government appoints the chief executive and the principal officials, is responsible for foreign affairs relating to the HKSAR in accordance with the law, and issues directives to the chief executive. The Central Military Commission is the leading body of the Hong Kong garrison, and performs defense and other duties. The central authorities perform overall jurisdiction and constitutional duties as prescribed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and in the Basic Law of the HKSAR, and exercise effective administration over the HKSAR.
-Forming the power organs of the HKSAR. Prior to the return of Hong Kong, the Preparatory Committee of the HKSAR completed the organization of the Selection Committee of the First Government of the HKSAR. The Selection Committee elected Tung Chee-hwa as the first chief executive of the HKSAR, and then the Central People's Government appointed him as the chief executive. The Selection Committee also elected members of the interim Legislative Council. The first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, appointed the judges of the Court of Final Appeal, and the chief justice of the High Court. The completion of the above work ensured the effective administration of the HKSAR by the central leadership upon its establishment. After the return of Hong Kong to China, the Central People's Government appointed Tung Chee-hwa, Donald Tsang and Leung Chun-ying, all elected, as chief executives of the HKSAR in that order, and appointed and dismissed key officials of their administrations. China's state leaders attended the inauguration ceremonies of the chief executives and key government officials, and heard them take their oaths of office.
-Supporting and guiding the administration of the chief executive and government of the HKSAR in accordance with the law. The chief executive reports his/her work to the central government on an annual basis, on the implementation of the Basic Law and other items for which he/she is accountable to the central government; and the state leaders give guidance to the chief executive on major matters related to the implementation of the Basic Law. The central government has established the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council as an administrative office of the State Council to handle Hong Kong and Macau affairs. The office works to implement the "one country, two systems" principle and related directives of the central government, and is responsible for communicating with the government of the HKSAR. The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR is a resident organ of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong. Its duties involve communication with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR and the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, the promotion of exchanges and cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland in various areas, communication with personages from all sectors of Hong Kong society, and the handling of affairs involving Taiwan.
-Responsible for foreign affairs involving the HKSAR. First, the central leadership supports the HKSAR in actively carrying out international exchanges and cooperation; supports and assists the HKSAR in participating in international organizations and conferences in a proper capacity; assists the HKSAR in bidding to host important international conferences of various kinds, and supports the HKSAR in developing international conference centers, regional legal services and dispute settlement centers; supports the recommendation of Hong Kong residents to take up posts in international organizations; supports the promotion of visa waivers for HKSAR passport holders in other countries and regions; and supports the work of trade offices of the HKSAR government in other countries and regions. Second, the role of the central leadership also includes properly handling legal issues involving Hong Kong, such as the application of international conventions in Hong Kong. The number of multilateral treaties and amendments that have become applicable in the HKSAR now exceeds 170, and the number of agreements concluded with other countries with the authorization of the central government regarding investment protection, civil aviation, taxation and judicial assistance has reached 338. The central government assists the HKSAR in accepting reviews on the implementation of international conventions, supports it in maintaining and developing ties, and in signing and implementing treaties and agreements with other countries, regions and related international organizations in the name of "Hong Kong, China" in the areas of economy, trade, finance, maritime transport, communications, tourism, culture and sports. It also authorizes and assists Hong Kong in conducting judicial cooperation with other countries. Third, it ratifies the establishment of consulates and other governmental or quasi-governmental organizations of foreign countries in the HKSAR. Currently, there are 66 consulates-general set up by foreign countries under related agreements in the HKSAR, with 73 honorary consuls. Fourth, it strives to ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong compatriots while in other countries, and actively offers consular protection to Hong Kong travelers abroad. By the end of 2013, Chinese embassies and consulates overseas had handled over 10,000 cases of consular protection involving Hong Kong residents. Fifth, it prevents foreign forces from interfering in Hong Kong's affairs. Hong Kong's affairs are internal affairs of China, and the Chinese government has made timely representations with certain countries through diplomatic channels regarding their words and actions of interference. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established the Office of the Commissioner in the HKSAR to attend to foreign affairs involving Hong Kong.
-Responsible for the defense of the HKSAR. The central leadership made the decision and authorized the formation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison in January 1996, and on December 30 the same year, the 23rd Session of the Eighth NPC Standing Committee adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on Garrisoning the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. At midnight on July 1, 1997, troops of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison entered Hong Kong to take over the defense of the HKSAR. The Garrison's duties include guarding against and resisting aggression, ensuring the security of the HKSAR, performing defense services, managing military installations, and handling military affairs involving other countries in accordance with the law. The Garrison adheres to the law in performing its duties, and oversees military conduct in accordance with the law. It diligently fulfills its duties in defense, organizing sea and air patrols and carrying out search and rescue exercises in case of maritime or air emergencies, joint exercises of combined arms, and cross-district maneuvers, vigorously safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Garrison also actively takes part in activities to promote the public good in Hong Kong, inviting local residents to visit the Garrison barracks and holding summer military camps for young students, in an effort to strengthen ties between the Garrison and the local community. All this has helped enhance the mutual understanding and trust between the Garrison and the people of Hong Kong, fully exemplifying the valor and good conduct of the PLA.
-Exercising power granted to the NPC Standing Committee by the Constitution of the PRC and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. First, the NPC Standing Committee keeps record of the laws drawn up by the legislature of the HKSAR for review. By the end of 2013, the HKSAR had reported a total of 570 local laws to the NPC Standing Committee for the record. Second, it adds or subtracts national laws applicable in the HKSAR as listed in Annex III of the Basic Law of the HKSAR. Currently, 12 national laws are listed in Annex III of the Basic Law of the HKSAR for implementation. Third, it makes new authorizations to the HKSAR. In 1996, the NPC Standing Committee empowered the HKSAR government to appoint its immigration department as the office to accept applications for nationality in the HKSAR and handle the applications in accordance with the Nationality Law and its interpretations. In 2006, the NPC Standing Committee authorized the HKSAR to run the Hong Kong section of the Shenzhen Bay Port in accordance with the laws of the HKSAR. Fourth, it makes interpretations regarding the Basic Law of the HKSAR. The NPC Standing Committee made interpretations of the related articles of the Basic Law in 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2011 on the following questions respectively: the right of abode in Hong Kong for permanent Hong Kong residents' children born outside Hong Kong and with Chinese nationality, the legal procedure for modifying the selection methods of the chief executive and the Legislative Council, the length of the term of a by-elected chief executive, and the principles of state immunity, and interpretations of relevant provisions in the Basic Law and its appendixes. Fifth, it decides on issues relating to the constitutional development in the HKSAR. The NPC Standing Committee made decisions in 2004 and 2007, respectively, on the selection method of the chief executive for 2007 and the Legislative Council for 2008, and the selection method of the chief executive, the Legislative Council and the general election for 2012. Sixth, it ratifies and keeps record of the amendments to the selection methods of the chief executive and Legislative Council of the HKSAR. In 2010, the NPC Standing Committee ratified the HKSAR's amendment to the selection method of the chief executive for 2012, agreeing to put on record the amendment to the selection method and voting procedure of the Legislative Council for 2012. Seventh, it keeps records of the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the chief judge of the High Court of the HKSAR. In addition, according to the Basic Law of the HKSAR and relevant decisions of the NPC, the Basic Law Committee of the HKSAR of the NPC Standing Committee, established on July 1, 1997, when the Basic Law came into effect, is composed of members from the mainland and Hong Kong, and is responsible for providing opinions to the NPC Standing Committee on issues such as whether the laws drawn up by the HKSAR's legislature comply with the provisions of the Basic Law on the range of affairs responsible by the central government and the relationship between the central government and the HKSAR, on adding or subtracting the national laws applicable in Hong Kong as listed in Annex III and on the interpretation or revision of the Basic Law, and related issues.