Hong Kong

Is the status special administrative region still valid?

The Chinese city Hong Kong has nearly seven and a half million inhabitants and is situated on the Southern coast of the People’s Republic of China. The economic and finance sector of the city has a major relevance, not only for China but globally. Hong Kong is the eleventh largest banking centre in the world. Its stock market is the third largest in Asia. With its export volume Hong Kong takes place in the front row globally. Hong Kong is, together with Macau, one of the two special administrative regions in China. How did Hong Kong become a special administrative region, what does this status mean and is it still valid?

During the first opium war in 1841, Hong Kong was occupied by the United Kingdom and was a British Crown Colony. The Colony was a sanctuary for many Chinese people during the Chinese War, which ended with the creation of the Communist People’s Republic China. Only 20 years ago, Hong Kong was given back to China. Since then, the city forms a special administrative region and thus is able to take part in the free market economy. Hong Kong disposes over an inner autonomy, which is something very unusual in the Chinese political system. As special administrative region, Hong Kong has an own chief administrator. The city is autonomous in exercising its executive, legal and independent judicial power and possess a common Supreme Court. Beijing does not employ any government staff in the administration of Hong Kong, only some troops are stationed in the city, in order to symbolise that Hong Kong belongs to China. Although the special administrative regions are no sovereign states, they dispose over an own customs administration and trade policy. Hong Kong is an independent member of the World Trade Union. The system of the special administrative region is based on the motto “One country, two systems”. This means, that whereas socialism and communism is practised on the main country, Hong Kong is allowed to maintain its existing capitalist system and the current way of living.

Hong Kong has massive importance for China. With Hong Kong as major player in the global economic and financial market, the communist China can actively participate in the world market, without denying its communist background and ideologies. The current state of Hong Kong as special administrative region shall persist for a minimum of 50 years, this was decided between the United Kingdom and China. In this time period, the city is able to enjoy its special rights. However, the current state of Hong Kong is contested. At the recent inauguration of the new chief of the city, Carrie Lam, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing announced that China does no longer feel bound on the prior agreement with the United Kingdom. If Hong Kong will be able to maintain its status as special administration region for another 30 years, remains to be seen.