System of Special Administrative Region

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The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems (http://www.china.org.cn/features/political/2002-03/19/content_1026312.htm) to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People’s Congress in the light of specific conditions.


I. Legal and Administrative Positions of Special Administrative Regions

1. Special administrative regions are local administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China

The Basic Laws of special administrative regions shall be drawn by the National People’s Congress.

Legislative councils in special administrative regions may, according to specification in the Basic Laws and established procedures, draw up regional laws but such laws must be reported to the National People’s Congress for the record.

The chief executives of special administrative regions are elected or selected through consultation locally and appointed by the Central Government.

Special administrative regions do not exercise the rights of state sovereignty. Foreign affairs in special administrative regions are administered by the Central Government. Defense affairs in the regions fall under the responsibility of the Central Government.

The National People’s Congress has the right to declare the state of war in special administrations regions of Hong Kong and Macao. The Central Government may issue orders specifying the implementation of national laws in special administrative regions.

When deeming that the laws drawn by legislature councils in special administrative regions do not conform to the articles in the Basic Laws, the National People’s Congress may recall the laws, but not make revisions of them. Under such circumstances, the laws immediately go out of effect.

Governments of special administrative regions shall, on their own initiative, forbid any acts of treason, split of the country, instigation of rebellion, subversion of the Central Government and stealing of state secrets, forbid foreign political organizations or groups to conduct political activities in special administrative regions, forbid political organizations and groups in the special administrative regions to establish contact with foreign political organizations and groups.

2. High degree of self-government in special administrative regions

Special administrative regions may exercise social, economic, political and cultural systems different from those on the mainland regions of the People’s Republic of China.

Laws drawn by the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee may not be enforced in special administrative regions, except those which concern national defense, foreign affairs and involve national unification and territorial integrity and which do not concern the scope of self-government in special administrative regions.

The Central Government and its organs, provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government shall not interfere in the affairs of self-government by special administrative regions according to law.

Legislative councils and government organs of special administrative regions are to be composed of local residents.

Legislative councils of special administrative regions may enact, abrogate and revise laws so long as such laws do not contradict the Basic Laws for the special administrative regions.

Special administrative regions enjoy the power of final adjudication.

Revenues of special administrative regions shall not be turned over to the Central Government which does not collect taxes in special administrative regions either.

Special administrative regions may, in their own name, maintain and develop economic and culture ties with foreign countries, regions and international organizations, conclude bilateral or multi-lateral agreements on economics, culture, science and technology, join various non-governmental international organizations and independently issue travel documents into and out of special administrative regions.


II. The Political System in Special Administrative Regions

1. The chief executive

(1) The status and qualifications of the chief executive

The chief executive of a special administrative region is the leader of the region and represents the region.

The chief executive of a special administrative region is responsible to the Central Government and the special administrative regions.

The chief executive of a special administrative region must be a permanent citizen of the special administrative region, who has reached full 40 years in age, resided in the special administrative region for an accumulative period of 20 years and has no rights of abode in foreign countries.

The chief executive of a special administration region is selected by election or consultation and appointed by the Central Government.

The chief executive of a special administration region serves for a term of five years and may serve a second term.

Under one or more of the following conditions, the chief executive must resign:

1) Being unable to perform his or her functions because of serious illness or other reasons;

2) Having twice refused to sign laws enacted by the legislative council so as to dismiss the legislative council, still refusing to sign the law when the reelected legislative council has passed the original bill in dispute with a two-thirds majority; and/or

3) Dismissing the legislative council when the latter refuses to pass the financial budget or other important bills, and the reelected legislative council continues its refusal to pass the bills in dispute.

When the chief executive is temporarily unable to perform his or her functions, secretaries of various departments of the government of the special administrative region may take turns to serve as the acting chief executive.

(2) The functions and powers of the chief executive

1) To exercise leadership over the government of the special administrative region;

2) To be responsible for the implementation of the Basic Law and other statutes;

3) To sign acts adopted by the legislative council and promulgate the laws;

4) To sign the decision on financial budget adopted by the legislative council and send the financial budget and final accounting to the Central Government for the record;

5) To decide on policies of the government and promulgate administrative orders;

6) To nominate and report to the Central Government for appointment of major officials such as the directors and vice directors of various departments of the government;

7) To appoint judges of the courts at various levels and public servants according to legally prescribed procedures;

8) To carry out orders the Central Government issues concerning affairs stipulated by the Basic Law;

9) To conduct foreign affairs and other affairs delegated by the Central Government on behalf of the special administrative region;

10) To approve decisions on financial revenues and expenditures to be submitted to the legislative council;

11) To decide whether government officials or other personnel engaged in government affairs should testify and provide evidence to the legislative council, upon consideration of security and public interests;

12) To offer amnesty or reduce punishment of criminals; and

13) To deal with petitions and appeals.

2. Administrative organs

(1) Administrative organs of special administrative regions

The administrative organ of a special administrative region is the government of the special administrative region.

The chief executive is the highest leader of the government of a special administrative region.

The government of a special administrative region is made up of departments, bureaus, offices and commissions.

Major officials of the government of a special administrative region shall be permanent Chinese citizens who have lived in the special administrative region for an accumulative period of 15 years.

(2) The functions and powers of administrative regions

The administrative organ of a special administrative region exercises the following functions and powers:

1) To formulate and implement policies;

2) To administer various administrative affairs;

3) To conduct foreign affairs delegated by the Central Government;

4) To draw up and put forward financial budget and final accounting; to propose bills, draft laws and auxiliary regulations; and

5) To send officials to sit in sessions of the legislative council and speak on behalf of the administrative organ.

The administrative organ is responsible to the legislative council:

1) The administrative organ implements laws enacted by the legislative council;

2) It makes report on the government to the legislative council on fixed date;

3) It answers inquires of members of the legislative council; and

4) Its acts of taxation and public expenditure must be approved by the legislative council.

3. The legislative council

(1) The position and powers of the legislative council

The legislative council of a special administrative region is the law-making body for the special administrative region.

The legislative council also exercises the following power apart from making laws:

1) To examine and evaluate the financial budget;

2) To approve taxation and public expenditure;

3) To hear and debate the report by the chief executive on the work of the government;

4) To make inquires on the work of the administrative organ;

5) To impeach the chief executive according to legal process if the chief executive has committed serious violations of law or dereliction of duty; and

6) To agree on the appointment and removal of judges of the court of final appeal and the chief judge of the high court.

(2) The creation and term of office of the legislative council

The legislative council is made up by Chinese citizens without right of abode in foreign countries who live permanently in the special administrative region.

Non-Chinese permanent residents of a special administrative region and permanent residents of a special administrative region with the right of abode in foreign countries may also serve as members of the legislative council but they shall not make up more than 20 percent of the total number of legislative council members.

The creation of the legislative council includes direct election and indirect election. Members of the legislative council are elected directly by electorates and indirectly by functional organizations and election committees. Members elected in both ways together constitute the legislative council.

The legislative council serves a term of four years except the first legislative council of a special administrative region which serves two years.

4. Judicial organs

The judicial organs that existed before the special administrative region was established can continue to exist. The only change in the judicial organs is brought about by the creation of the court of final appeal.