Hong Kong, or more formally, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), is a common law jurisdiction within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Hong Kong was officially a British colony from 1843 to 1997, although colonial rule began in practice in 1841. Post-1997 Hong Kong is unusual in that it is a common law jurisdiction within a civil law state, the legal system of which was set up initially on the Soviet model. The People’s Republic of China is a unitary state under one party rule, and no power can be permanently ceded from the centre. Hong Kong is therefore a zone of discretionary exception created under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, albeit one buttressed by an international agreement, the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, and formalised in the Basic Law. A striking feature of this constitutional arrangement is that it is time-bound. The ‘high degree of autonomy’ promised to Hong Kong expires on June 30, 2047, with the subsequent special status of Hong Kong, if any, yet to be determined.
Recommended CitationHutton, Christopher, The tangle of colonial modernity: Hong Kong as a distinct linguistic and conceptual space within the global common law, Law Text Culture, 18, 2014, 221-248.