When it was a colony, Hong Kong was administered by a governor, who was appointed by and represented the monarch of the United Kingdom, directed the government, served as the commander in chief, and presided over the two main organs of government, the Executive Council and the Legislative Council. With the resumption of Chinese sovereignty over the territory in July 1997, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (promulgated by the National People’s Congress of China in 1990) went into effect.
The guiding principle of the Basic Law was the concept of “one country, two systems,” under which HongKong was allowed to maintain its capitalist economy and to retain a large degree of political autonomy (except in matters of foreign policy and defense) for a period of 50 years.
The Basic Law vests executive authority in a chief executive, who is under the jurisdiction of the central government in Beijing and serves a five-year term. Legislative authority rests with a Legislative Council, whose 60 members serve a four-year term; the chief executive, however, can dissolve the council before the end of a term.
According to the Basic Law, the chief executive for the second term was appointed by the central government, following election by an 800-member Election Committee in Hong Kong.
The constituencies for council members were then defined during their second and third terms, and by the third term half were directly elected from geographic constituencies and half were selected from “functional constituencies” drawn from business and professional circles. The Basic Law further states, however, that the chief executive and council members ultimately were to be elected by universal suffrage. These electoral procedures were to have been determined by 2007, but in that year the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing ruled that universal suffrage would not be implemented before 2012.
Civil and criminal law is derived generally from that of the United Kingdom, and the Basic Law states that this system is to be maintained. The highest court in the judiciary is the Court of Final Appeal, headed by a chief justice. This is followed by the High Court (headed by a chief judge) and by district, magistrate, and special courts. The chief executive appoints all judges, although judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the chief judge of the High Court also must be confirmed by the Legislative Council and reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. "Hong Kong" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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