Ask Ronny On Legal Matter

We will continuously publish articles on legal knowledge that are simple, clear, and easy to understand, taking the public's perspective on issues related to Hong Kong and the country. We have compiled the common questions and doubts people frequently ask into a short anthology, allowing the general public to quickly resolve their queries.


Q:What changed after 1997?


Sovereignty, Constitutional order, Legal system and Political system. SOVEREIGNTYFrom part of UK to Inalienable Part of China; from UK/HK government to Local Administrative Region with High Degree of Autonomy directly under Central Government; foreign affairs and defence become the responsibility of China instead of UK. CONSTITUTIONAL ORDERHK not a Colony but part of China:   A city in China with a difference; Separate Political, Economical, Judicial, Legal and Social system with its own written constitutional framework under the national constitution; From UK rule to part of China: From no constitutional issues to constitutional framework. LEGAL SYSTEMFor first time, Hong Kong has a written constitutional framework; While under Art. 158 NPCSC has the power to interpret the Basic Law, HKCFA was empowered to interpret matters within limits of HK’s autonomy;This is a compromise under the Civil Law System to which China belongs. POLITICAL SYSTEM Basic Law has no expiry date;SAR government therefore has right to deal with land, and our freedoms and rights, can continue beyond 2047; But Basic Law also provides China ‘s Basic Policy regarding HK shall remain “unchanged” for 50 years along with our “Capitalist System”; if there is change in this respect, confidence of international investors will still be affected.

Q:Does "one country, two systems" mean that the lifestyle after the handover remains completely unchanged?


The truth is:Our way of life changes with the times; our freedoms and core values for the first time in our history are now constitutionally guaranteed by the Basic Law; nature of our political system and international status had also undergone subtle changes following change of sovereignty. It follows that only thing remains unchanged is our capitalist system.

Q:Does the NPC's interpretation infringe upon Hong Kong's judicial independence?


The Basic Law guarantees judicial independence, the judicial system is safeguarded, and the common law system, including all our laws, is preserved, except in clearly defined areas where mainland law does not apply to Hong Kong. The Court of Final Appeal was established to replace the Privy Council; judges from common law countries can serve as part of the court. For the first time, Hong Kong has a written constitutional framework; under Article 158 of the Basic Law, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) has the authority to interpret the Basic Law, while the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal has the authority to interpret matters within the scope of Hong Kong's autonomy; this is a compromise under the mainland Chinese legal system. Before 1997, Hong Kong never needed to resolve constitutional issues, but China, as a civil law country with a written constitution, has a different approach. In the civil law system, the NPCSC has both legislative powers and a constitutional interpretation role similar to that of a constitutional court, which differs from the practice in most Western legal systems where judicial institutions independently interpret the law. Thus, when the central government intervenes in constitutional issues in Hong Kong, it can be misunderstood as an infringement of Hong Kong's judicial independence. This misunderstanding stems from unfamiliarity with the structure and functions of the Chinese legal system, leading to misinterpretations.

Democracy and the rule of Law

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