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Politics of Hong Kong
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Politics of Hong Kong takes place in a framework of a political system dominated by People's Republic of China,
its own legislature, the Chief Executive as the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power
is exercised by the government.

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong returned to Chinese control, when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to
the People's Republic of China (PRC), ending more than 150 years of British colonial rule. Hong Kong became a
Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC with a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and
defence affairs. According to the Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984) and the Basic Law, Hong Kong will retain
its political, economic, and judicial systems and unique way of life and continue to participate in international
agreements and organisations as a dependent territory for at least 50 years after retrocession. For instance, the
International Olympic Committee recognises Hong Kong as a participating dependency under the name, "Hong
Kong, China", separate from the People's Republic of China.

Overview

In accordance with Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong has Special
Administrative Region status, which provides constitutional guarantees for implementing the policy of "one
country, two systems".[1] The government is economically liberal, but lacks universal suffrage for except for
District Council elections and Legislative council seats for geographical constituencies. The head of government
(the Chief Executive of Hong Kong) is elected indirectly through an electoral college, the majority of whose
members are appointed. The Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitutional document, was approved in March 1990 by
National People's Congress of the PRC.

On the other hand, Hong Kong enjoys an independent judiciary, and the legal system is based on the English
common law system. The current legal system will stay in force until at least 30 June 2047.

All permanent residents over 18 years of age are eligible to vote in direct elections for the 30 seats representing
geographical constituencies in the 60-seat Legislative Council. However, eligibility for certain indirect elections is
limited to about 180,000 voters in 28 functional constituencies (composed of business and professional
sectors), and the Chief Executive is elected by an 800-member electoral college drawn mostly from the voters in
the functional constituencies but also from religious organisations and municipal and central government bodies.


Government
Main article: Government of Hong Kong

The Chief Executive is the head of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
and the executive branch. The Chief Executive is elected in a small-circle election by 800 electors; the Executive
Council is entirely appointed by the Chief Executive. Since May 2008, an additional layer of political appointees
was appointed by the Government.
Politics and government
of Hong Kong

Basic Law
Government
Legislative Council
Elections
Political parties
Judiciary
Court of Final Appeal
District Council
Human rights
Foreign relations
Universal suffrage

Hong Kong Portal
A poster promoting the March for Democracy
Major political issues in recent years

Right of Abode
Main article: Right of abode issue, Hong Kong

On 29 January 1999, the Court of Final Appeal, the
highest judicial authority in Hong Kong interpreted
several Articles of the Basic Law, in such a way that the
Government estimated would allow 1.6 million Mainland
China immigrants to enter Hong Kong within ten years.
This caused widespread concerns among the public on
the social and economic consequences.

While some in the legal sector advocated that the
National People's Congress (NPC) should be asked to
amend the part of the Basic Law to redress the problem,
the HKSAR Government decided to seek an
interpretation to, rather than an amendment of, the
relevant Basic Law provisions from the Standing
Committee of the National People's Congress
(NPCSC). The NPCSC issued an interpretation in favour
of the Hong Kong Government in June 1999, thereby
overturning parts of the court decision. While the full
powers of NPCSC to interpret the Basic Law is provided
for in the Basic Law itself, some critics argues this
undermines judicial independence.

July 1 marches and Article 23
Main articles: Hong Kong July 1 marches and Hong
Kong Basic Law Article 23

The Hong Kong July 1 March is an annual protest rally
led by the Civil Human Rights Front since the 1997
handover on the HKSAR establishment day. However, it
was only in 2003 when it drew large public attention by
opposing the bill of the Article 23. It has become the
annual platform for demanding universal suffrage,
calling for observance and preservation civil liberties
such as free speech, venting dissatisfaction with the
Hong Kong Government or the Chief Executive, rallying
against actions of the Pro-Beijing camp.
The legislative branch is the unicameral Legislative Council (LegCo). The judicial branch consists of a series of courts, of which the court of
final adjudication is the Court of Final Appeal. Hong Kong is represented in the National People's Congress by a delegation which is elected by
a special electoral committee.
A number of anti-Communist party promotions
Universal suffrage
Main article: Democratic development in Hong Kong

Towards the end of 2003, the focus of political controversy shifted to the dispute of how subsequent Chief
Executives get elected. The Basic Law's Article 45 stipulates that the ultimate goal is universal suffrage; when
and how to achieve that goal, however, remains open but controversial. Under the Basic Law, electoral law could
be amended to allow for this as soon as 2007 (Hong Kong Basic Law Annex .1, Sect.7). Arguments over this
issue seemed to be responsible for a series of Mainland Chinese newspapers commentaries in February 2004
which stated that power over Hong Kong was only fit for "patriots."

The interpretation of the NPCSC to Annex I and II of the Basic Law, promulgated on April 6, 2004, made it clear
that the National People's Congress' support is required over proposals to amend the electoral system under
Basic Law. On April 26, 2004, the Standing Committee of National People's Congress denied the possibility of
universal suffrage in 2007 (for the Chief Executive) and 2008 (for LegCo).

The NPCSC interpretation and decision were regarded as obstacles to the democratic development of Hong
Kong by the democratic camp, and were criticized for lack of consultation with Hong Kong residents. On the other
hand, the pro-government camp considered them to be in compliance with the legislative intent of the Basic Law
and in line with the One country, two systems principle, and hoped that this would put an end to the controversies
on development of political structure in Hong Kong.

In 2007 Chief Executive Donald Tsang requested for Beijing to allow direct elections for the Chief Executive. He
referred to a survey which said more than half of the citizens of Hong Kong wanted direct elections by 2012.
However, he said waiting for 2017 may be the best way to get two-thirds of the support of Legislative Council.[4]

The NPC replied that it would consider holding the 2017 Chief Executive elections and the 2020 Legislative
Council elections by universal suffrage.[5]

Resignation of Tung Chee-hwa and interpretation of Basic Law
Main article: Tung Chee Hwa's resignation

On March 12, 2005, the Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, resigned. Immediately after Tung's resignation, Tsang
assumed the role of acting Chief Executive, which he stepped down from prior to putting himself forward as a
candidate for the post of Chief Executive. Tsang was subsequently chosen to be the next Chief Executive.

After Tung's resignation, there was dispute over the length of the term of the Chief Executive. To most local legal
professionals, the length is obviously five years, under whatever circumstances.[citation needed] It should also
be noted that the wording of the Basic Law on the term of the Chief Executive is substantially different from the
articles in the PRC constitution concerning the length of term of the president, premier, etc. Nonetheless, legal
experts from the mainland said it is a convention a successor will only serve the remainder of the term if the
position is vacant because the predecessor resigned. The Standing Committee of the National People's
Congress exercised its right to interpret the Basic Law, and affirmed that the successor would only serve the
remainder of the term. Many in Hong Kong saw this as an adverse impact on one country, two systems, as the
Central People's Government interpret the Basic Law to serve its need, that is, a two-year probation for Tsang,
instead of a five-year term.
In 2003, the HKSAR Government proposed to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law
by legislating against acts such as treason, subversion, secession and sedition.[2]
However, there were concerns that the legislation would infringe human rights by
introducing the mainland's concept of "national security" into the HKSAR. Together
with the general dissatisfaction with the Tung administration, about 500,000 people
participated in this protest. Article 23 enactment was "temporarily suspended"[3]
Political activists voicing their concern in the Jan 2008 protest
Demonstration against reform package
Political Reform Package

Main article: December 2005 protest for democracy in Hong Kong
On December 4, 2005, people in Hong Kong demonstrated against Donald Tsang's proposed reform package,
before a vote on December 21. An estimated 250,000 turned out into the streets.[6]

The march has sent a strong message to hesitant pro-democracy legislators to follow public opinion. The
pro-government camp claims to have collected 700,000 signatures on a petition backing Mr. Tsang's reform
package. This number, however, is widely seen as too small to influence pro-democracy lawmakers. The Reform
Package debate has seen the return of key political figure and former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, raising
speculations of a possible run up for the 2007 Chief Executive election, though she dismissed having a personal
interest in standing for the next election.

In an attempt to win last minute votes from moderate pro-democracy lawmakers, the government amended its
reform package on December 19 by proposing a gradual cut in district councils appointed members. Their
number would be reduced from 102 to 68 by 2008. It would then be decided in 2011 whether to scrap the
remaining seats in 2012 or in 2016. The amendment has been seen as a reluctant response by Donald Tsang to
give satisfaction to the democratic demands of the December 4 demonstrations. The move has been qualified
"Too little, too late" by pan-democrates in general.

On December 21, 2005, the reform political reform package was vetoed by the pro-democracy lawmakers. Chief
Secretary Rafael Hui openly criticised pro-democracy Martin Lee and Bishop Zen for blocking the proposed
changes.
Political Appointments System
Main article: Political Appointments System

The 24 non-civil-service positions under the political appointment system comprise 11 undersecretaries and 13 political assistants.[7] The government named eight newly appointed Undersecretaries
on 20 May, and nine Political Assistants on 22 May 2008. The posts were newly created, ostensibly to work closely with bureau secretaries and top civil servants in implementing the Chief Executive's
policy blueprint and agenda in an executive-led government. Donald Tsang described the appointments as a milestone in the development of Hong Kong's political appointment system.[8]
Controversies arose with the disclosure of foreign passports and salaries.[9] Pressure for disclosure continued to mount despite government insistence on the right of the individuals to privacy: on 10
June 2008, newly-appointed Undersecretaries and political assistants, who had previously argued were contractually forbidden from disclosing their remuneration, revealed their salaries. The
Government news release stated that the appointees had "voluntarily disclosed their salaries, given the sustained public interest in the issue."[10]
A "free Ching Cheong" poster
Other political issues since 1997

Year        Event
2001       The Grand bauhinia medal controversy with the award going to Yeung Kwong a supporter of the Hong      
                   Kong 1967 Leftist Riots.[11]
2003        Central and Wan Chai Reclamation Controversy
2005        Arrest of journalist Ching Cheong by the People's Republic of China on spying charges.
2006        Aborted proposal to introduce a Goods and Services Tax.
2007        Battle for conservation of Star Ferry Pier and Queen's Pier.
2007        Szeto Wah's selective persecution at Citizen's radio incident.
2008        Arrest of writer Lü Gengsong by the People's Republic of China. His book "Corrupted Officials in China"  
                       was available in HK in 2000.
2008        Actress Liza Wang reaches out to CPPCC to unban the democrats, Pro-democracy Leung Kwok-hung     
                    (Longhair) denied to Sichuan.
Nationality and citizenship

Chinese nationality
Main articles: Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China and HKSAR passport

Before and after the handover, the PRC recognizes the ethnic Chinese people in Hong Kong as its citizens. The
PRC issues Home Return Permits for them to enter the mainland China. Hong Kong issues the HKSAR
passport through its Immigration Department[12]. to all PRC citizens who are permanent residents of Hong Kong
fitting the right of abode rule.
The HKSAR passport is not the same as the ordinary PRC passport, which is issued to residents of mainland China. Only permanent residents of Hong Kong who are PRC citizens are eligible to
apply. To acquire the status of permanent resident one has to have "ordinarily resided" in Hong Kong for a period of seven years and adopted Hong Kong as their permanent home. Therefore,
citizenships rights enjoyed by residents of mainland China and residents Hong Kong are differentiated even though both hold the same citizenship.

Interestingly, new immigrants from mainland China (still possess Chinese Citizenship) to Hong Kong are denied from getting PRC passport from the mainland authorities, and are not eligible to apply
for an HKSAR passport. They usually hold the Document of Identity (DI) as the travel document, until the permanent resident status is obtained after seven years of residence.

Naturalisation as a PRC Citizen is common among ethnic Chinese people in Hong Kong who are not PRC Citizens. Some who have surrendered their PRC citizenship, usually those who have
emigrated to foreign countries and have retained the permanent resident status, can apply for PRC citizenship at the Immigration Department, though they must renounce their original nationality in
order to acquire the PRC citizenship.

Naturalisation of persons of non-Chinese ethnicity are rare because China does not allow dual citizenship and becoming a Chinese citizen requires the renouncement of other passports. A notable
example is Michael Rowse, a permanent resident of Hong Kong and the current Director-General of Investment Promotion of Hong Kong Government, naturalised and became a PRC citizen, for the
offices of secretaries of the policy bureaux are only open to PRC citizens.

In 2008, a row erupted over political appointees. Five newly appointed Undersecretaries declared that they were in the process of renouncing foreign citizenship as at 4 June 2008, citing public opinion
as an overriding factor, and one Assistant had initiated the renunciation process. This was done despite there being no legal or constitutional barrier for officials at this level of government to have
foreign nationality.[13]

British nationality
Main article: British nationality law and Hong Kong

Hong Kong residents who were born in Hong Kong in the colonial era (about 3.5 million) could acquire the British Dependent Territories citizenship (BDTC). HK residents who were not born in Hong
Kong could also naturalize as a BDTC before the handover. To allow them to retain the status of British national while preventing a possible flood of immigrants from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom
created a new nationality status, British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) that Hong Kong British Dependent Territories citizens could apply for. Holders of the BN(O) passports, however, have no right of
abode in the UK. See British nationality law and Hong Kong for details.

British National (Overseas) status was given effect by the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986. Article 4(1) of the Order provided that on and after 1 July 1987, there would be a new form of British
nationality, the holders of which would be known as British Nationals (Overseas). Article 4(2) of the Order provided that adults and minors who had a connection to Hong Kong were entitled to make an
application to become British Nationals (Overseas) by registration.

Becoming a British National (Overseas) was therefore not an automatic or involuntary process and indeed many eligible people who had the requisite connection with Hong Kong never applied to
become British Nationals (Overseas). Acquisition of the new status had to be voluntary and therefore a conscious act. To make it involuntary or automatic would have been contrary to the assurances
given to the Chinese government which led to the words "eligible to" being used in paragraph (a) of the United Kingdom Memorandum to the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The deadline for
applications passed in 1997. Any person who failed to register as a British Nationals (Overseas) by 1 July 1997 and were eligible to become PRC citizens became solely PRC citizens on 1 July 1997.
However, any person who would be rendered stateless by failure to register as a British Nationals (Overseas) automatically became a British Overseas citizen under article 6(1) of the Hong Kong
(British Nationality) Order 1986.

After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, people urged the British Government to grant full British citizenship to all Hong Kong BDTCs — but this request was never accepted. However, it was
considered necessary to devise a British Nationality Selection Scheme to enable some of the population to obtain British citizenship. The United Kingdom made provision to grant citizenship to 50,000
families whose presence was important to the future of Hong Kong under the British Nationality Act (Hong Kong) 1990.

After reunification, all PRC citizens with the right of abode in Hong Kong (holding Hong Kong permanent identity cards) are eligible to apply for the HKSAR passport issued by the Hong Kong
Immigration Department. As the visa-free-visit destinations of the HKSAR passport are very similar with that of a BN(O) passport and the application fee for the former is much lower (see articles
HKSAR passport and British passport for comparison and verification), the HKSAR passport is becoming more popular among residents of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong residents who were not born in Hong Kong (and had not naturalised as a BDTC) could only apply for the Certificate of identity (CI) from the colonial government as travel document. They are
not issued (by neither the British nor Chinese authorities) after handover. Former CI holders holding PRC Citizenship (e.g. born in mainland China or Macau) and are permanent residents of Hong
Kong are now eligible for the HKSAR passports, making the HKSAR passports more popular.

Recent changes to India's Citizenship Act, 1955 (see Indian nationality law) will also allow some children of Indian origin, born in Hong Kong after 7 January 2004, who have a solely BN(O) parent to
automatically acquire British Overseas citizenship at birth under the provisions for reducing statelessness in article 6(2) or 6(3) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986. If they have acquired
no other nationality after birth, they will be entitled to subsequently register for full British citizenship with right of abode in the UK.

See also:
British nationality law and Hong Kong, nationality, citizenship
Political parties and elections
For other political parties see List of political parties in Hong Kong. An overview on elections and election results is
included in Elections in Hong Kong.
Main article: Hong Kong legislative election, 2004

Overall Summary of the 12 September 2004 Legislative Council of Hong Kong election results

Parties                                        Votes                %                Geographical                Functional                Total seats
                                                                                      constituencies              constituencies

Democratic Party                     423,631         23.74                        7                                    2                                 9

Civic Party                                 165,008            9.25                        3                                    1                                 4

Hong Kong Association           74,671            4.18                        1                                                                        1
for Democracy and
People's Livelihood

Pro-Democracy    

Hong Kong Confederation      89,185             5.00                        1                                                                        1
of Trade Unions

Neighbourhood and                 59,033             3.31                        1                                                                        1
Workers Service Centre

The Frontier                               73,844              4.14                        1                                                                        1

Pro democracy individuals    115,181             6.45                        4                                   4                                  8
and others

Democratic Alliance for          402,420           22.55                        8                                   4                                 12
Betterment of Hong Kong

Liberal Party                             118,997              6.67                        2                                   8                                 10

Pro-Government

The Hong Kong Federation     52,564             2.95                         1                                                                        1
of Trade Unions

Pro-government individuals     84,346            4.76                         1                                  11                                12
and others

Non-partisan Individuals        125,526            7.03   
and others

Total (turnout 55.6)               1,784,406           100.0                       30                                30                                 60

Source turnout: Xinhua. 11 candidates have been elected unopposed in 11 functional constituencies to the
Legislative Council.
(Total votes added up by this reference) For the joint list of pro-democrats
in NT East, as one seat get 50000 votes, compare the remaining votes,
Cheng and Lau got 50000 votes each, and Tong got 48833 vote, getting
the last seat.

The four main political parties are as follows. Each holds a significant
portion of LegCo. Twelve members are registered as affiliated with the
DAB, ten with the Liberal Party, nine with the Democratic Party and six with
the Civic Party. There are also many unofficial party members: politicians
who are members of political parties but have not registered such status
in their election applications. There are two major blocs: the democratic
camp and the pro-government camp.

  • Civic Party (Kuan Hsin-chi, chairman)
  • Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong
    (DAB) (Tam Yiu Chung, chairman)
  • Democratic Party (Albert Ho, chairman)
  • Liberal Party (James Tien Pei-chun, chairman)

Others include:

  • Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (Frederick
    Fung Kin-kee, chairman)
  • Citizens Party (Alex Chan Kai-chung, chairperson)
  • The Frontier (Emily Lau Wai-hing, convenor)
  • Hong Kong Progressive Alliance (Ambrose Lau Hon-chuen,
    chairman) (merged with the DAB 16 February 2005)
  • Hong Kong Frontline (Mr. Chong, chairman)
  • League of Social Democrats (Raymond Wong, chairman)
  • Southern Democratic Alliance (James Lung, chairman)


Political pressure groups and leaders

  • Chinese General Chamber of Commerce
  • Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (Lau Chin-shek,
    President; Lee Cheuk-yan, General Secretary)
  • Federation of Hong Kong Industries
  • Hong Kong Federation of Students
  • International Action
  • Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (Cheng Yiu-tong, President)
  • The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic
    Movements in China (Szeto Wah, Chairman)
  • Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Union Council
  • Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
  • Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union(Cheung Man-kwong,
    President)
  • Liberal Democratic Federation (Hu Fa-kuang, Chairman)
  • Anson Chan, Convener of her Core Group
References

  • ^ Wong, Yiu-chung. [2004] (2004). One Country, Two Systems in Crisis: Hong Kong's
    Transformation. Lexington Books. Hong Kong. ISBN 0739104926.
  • ^ Basiclaw23HK. "Basiclaw23." Treason, subversion and secession. Retrieved on 2007-
    12-28.
  • ^ Wong, Yiu-Chung. One Country, Two Systems in Crisis: Hong Kong's Transformation
    Since the Handover. Lexington books. ISBN 0739104926.
  • ^ "Hong Kong Leader Urges Beijing to Allow More Democracy, Suggests Delay in Direct
    Elections", Voice of America News (2007-12-12). Retrieved on 2007-12-19.  
  • ^ BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific |HK 'to elect its leader by 2017'
  • ^ Alliance.org.hk. "Alliance.org.hk." Szeto Wah Speech. Retrieved on 2007-12-29.
  • ^ Bonnie Chen, "No hurry to present new deputy ministers", The Standard, 4 March 2008
  • ^ Diana Lee, "High hopes for appointees", The Standard, 21 May 2008
  • ^ Page A1, South China Morning Post, 5 June, 2008
  • ^ "Political appointees disclose salaries", Hong Kong Government, 10 June 2008,
    retrieved 2008-06-12
  • ^ Chan, Ming K. So, Alvin Y. White III, Lynn T. [2002] (2002). Crisis and Transformation in
    China's Hong Kong. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0765610000.
  • ^ GovHK. "GovHK." HK SAR passport. Retrieved on 2007-12-28.
  • ^ Ambrose Wong et al (5 June 2008). "Deputy Ministers give up passports"". South China
    Morning Post.  
See also


Hong Kong portal


External links

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