The area constituting Hong Kong is located on the southeast coast of China, east of the mouth of the Pearl River and bordering Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province. It consists of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, with a total area of 1,092 sq km. Hong Kong has been Chinese territory since ancient times, and was occupied by Britain after the Opium War of 1840. In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong signed on December 19, 1984, the two governments held a hand-over ceremony on July 1, 1997, announcing the resumption of sovereignty by China over Hong Kong. Thus the common, long-cherished wish of the Chinese people to recover Hong Kong was fulfilled. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the PRC was formally established, and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, adopted in April 1990 at the Third Session of the Seventh NPC, came into effect. The Basic Law makes clear and definite specifications on a high degree of autonomy, and the political, economic, cultural and educational systems of the HKSAR.
—The Chinese government carries out the basic policies of “one country, two systems,” “administration of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong people” and “a high degree of autonomy” in Hong Kong. “One country, two systems” refers to the fact that in China a unified country, the mainland, practices the socialist system, and Hong Kong’s previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years; “administration of Hong Kong by the Hong Kong people” means that the HKSAR is administered by the Hong Kong people on their own, and the central authorities shall not send officials to the HKSAR to fill local official posts; and “a high degree of autonomy” means that apart from foreign and national defense affairs, which should be administered by the central authorities, the HKSAR shall fully enjoy the power of decision over matters within its autonomous jurisdiction, including executive, legislative, independent judicial and final adjudication powers.
—A democratic political system is practiced in the HKSAR. Its major organs of power are the Chief Executive, the Government, the Legislative Council and the Court of Final Appeal. The Chief Executive of the HKSAR shall be the head of the HKSAR, as well as the head of the HKSAR government. His or her dual status gives him or her extensive functions and powers. The Chief Executive shall be selected from among residents of the HKSAR by election or through consultations held locally, and be appointed by the Central Government. The term of office of the Chief Executive shall be five years. He or she may serve for not more than two consecutive terms.
—A free economic system is practiced in the HKSAR. The operation mechanisms of this economic system are mainly manifested in the fields of finance, banking, trade, industry and commerce, real estate, shipping and civil aviation. As a separate customs territory, the HKSAR may, using the name “Hong Kong, China,” join the WTO and other relevant international organizations and international trade agreements.
—The HKSAR shall, on its own, work out policies on education, culture, science and technology, medical care and sports. Non-governmental organizations in various fields in the HKSAR may maintain and develop their relationships with relevant organizations of other countries and regions, and with international organizations. They also may participate in relevant activities in the name of “Hong Kong, China.”
In the four-odd years since its founding, the HKSAR was affected by the Asian financial crisis and influenced by the global economic depression. But under the leadership of the Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, a series of problems and events which had great influence on Hong Kong’s politics, economy and society were handled soundly by the HKSAR government, safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. Now Hong Kong is still the center of international finance, trade, shipping, material exchange and tourism and will continue to demonstrate its good future to the other parts of the world.