Investigating The Relationship Between Hong Kong And China

Authors Avatar by bryanmojicagmailcom (student)


In exploring the relationship between Hong Kong and its sovereign ruler, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), I will proceed by first examining the history behind the 1997 union.  In doing so, I will introduce the Basic Law, a constitution which guarantees certain Hong Kong rights.  Next, I will explore the political and civil rights of Hong Kong as stated by the Basic Law.  Moving forward, I will examine each party’s economy, commenting upon the commercial interplay, and establishing each as an economic superpower.  Thirdly, I will address some of the tensions that exist between the two regions by looking at one hotbed issue: the birthing of newborns in Hong Kong.  Finally, I will consider what the future holds for this relationship, concluding that it is at-once troubled and promising.  

Background: The Handover & Guaranteed Rights

        In order to fully grasp the relationship between Hong Kong and China, one must first develop an understanding of the history.  After 150 under British control, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 as a Special Administrative Region (SAR).  The Hong Kong SAR was instituted under a Chinese policy or mission statement of “one country, two systems.”  This slogan embodies the Chinese leaders’ goal of reunifying Hong Kong with mainland China, while permitting a co-existence of different political, social, and legal systems.  

Autonomy was delivered to the HKSAR in the form of the Basic Law.  The Basic Law laid out some pertinent rulings in regard to the Hong Kong-Chinese relationship.  First, it is important to note that the Basic Law was created with a shelf-life of 50 years; meaning that its ruling power will expire in 2047.  This allows Hong Kong residents to have freedom of speech, freedom of press and publication, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of procession, of demonstration, of communication, of movement, of conscience, of religious belief, and of marriage.  Furthermore, HK citizens enjoy the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.  In addition, the laws that were previously in force in Hong Kong, such as the common law and rules of equity shall be maintained by the HKSAR under the Basic Law.  Thus, the Hong Kong SAR has a high level of autonomy, enjoying many levels of independent power.  This autonomy is however limited and in daily dispute, as I will address in the subsequent Politics and Tensions sections.  

As I just listed in the guaranteed rights runthrough, Hong Kong citizens may speak their mind, and are even able to engage in street demonstrations - where such acts are banned in the PRC.   It must be noted that there are, however, certain restrictions to these freedoms.  For example, the law requires that police be informed of the demonstrations beforehand, and all protests are subject to interference or destruction on the grounds of “national security.”  In the sixteen years the two have been linked, this has been a nagging issue for HK people as the PRC takes the form of an overbearing ruler.  For example, Hong Kong citizens have historically been unable to exercise their voice in advocating for the independence of Tibet or Taiwan.  Despite these impediments to wholly free speech, this is much more than that afforded to those in the PRC.

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Government Form and Political Parties

Similar to the United States and other large nation states, China utilizes its sovereign power through a federal system that distributes authority between the central government and local governments.  While these local governments may institute a variety of differing policies, the “political character” of each government is usually uniform.  Hong Kong is a large exception to this norm as it has been allowed to enjoy a semblance of democracy.  

Hong Kong has its own parliamentary system, or Legislative Council.  Members of the Legislative Council, known as LegCo, are elected by processes of both ...

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