Hong Kong Basic Law

Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
Basic Law of Hong Kong Cover.svg
The cover of the Basic Law, published by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau
Jurisdiction Hong Kong
Subordinate toConstitution of the People's Republic of China
Created4 April 1990
Date effective1 July 1997
Author(s)Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee
SignatoriesYang Shangkun, President of the People's Republic of China
Hong Kong Basic Law
Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
Traditional Chinese中華人民共和國香港特別行政區基本法
Simplified Chinese中华人民共和国香港特别行政区基本法
Politics and government
of Hong Kong
Related topics Regional Emblem of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong portal

The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is the constitution of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and a national law of the People's Republic of China.[1][2] Comprising nine chapters, 160 articles and three annexes, the Basic Law was adopted on 4 April 1990 by the Seventh National People's Congress and signed by President Yang Shangkun.

The Basic Law came into effect on 1 July 1997 in Hong Kong when the sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China, replacing Hong Kong's colonial constitution of the Letters Patent and the Royal Instructions.[3]


The Basic Law was drafted on the basis of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed between the Chinese and British governments on 19 December 1984, represented by Premier Zhao Ziyang and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher respectively. The Basic Law stipulates the basic policies of China regarding the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As stipulated in the Joint Declaration and following the "one country, two systems" principle, socialism practised in mainland China would not be extended to Hong Kong. Instead, Hong Kong would continue its capitalist system and way of life for 50 years after 1997.[4]

The Hong Kong Basic Law sets out the sources of law, the relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the Central Government, the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and the structure and functions of the branches of local government, and it provides for the amendment and interpretation of the Basic Law. The courts of Hong Kong are given the power to review acts of the executive or legislature and declare them invalid if they are inconsistent with the Basic Law.

The source of authority for the Basic Law is disputed. Chinese legal scholar Rao Geping argues that the Basic Law is a purely domestic legislation deriving its authority from the Constitution of the People's Republic of China,[5] while some legal scholars arguing that the Basic Law derives its authority directly from the Sino-British Joint Declaration.[citation needed] The argument is relevant in that it affects the level of authority that the PRC has in making any changes to the Basic Law. It is also essential in determining the Hong Kong courts' jurisdiction in issues related to the PRC domestic legislations.