The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong (The Joint Declaration) was signed between the Chinese and British Governments on 19 December 1984. The Joint Declaration sets out, among other things, the basic policies of the People's Republic of China (PRC) regarding Hong Kong. Under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", the socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Hong Kong's previous capitalist system and life-style shall remain unchanged for 50 years. The Joint Declaration provides that these basic policies shall be stipulated in a Basic Law of the HKSAR.

The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (The Basic Law) was adopted on 4 April 1990 by the Seventh National People's Congress (NPC) of the PRC. It came into effect on 1 July 1997.

The Document

The Basic Law is the constitutional document for the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of "One Country, Two Systems", "a high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong". It also prescribes the various systems to be practised in the HKSAR.

The Basic Law consists of the following sections -

  1. The full text of the Basic Law which comprises a total of nine chapters with 160 articles;
  2. Annex I, which sets out the method for the selection of the Chief Executive of the HKSAR;
  3. Annex II, which sets out the method for the formation of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR and its voting procedures; and
  4. Annex III, which sets out the national laws to be applied in the HKSAR.

Drafting Process

The Basic Law was drafted by a Committee composed of members from both Hong Kong and the Mainland. A Basic Law Consultative Committee formed purely by Hong Kong people was established in 1985 to canvass views in Hong Kong on the drafts.

The first draft was published in April 1988, followed by a five-month public consultation exercise. The second draft was published in February 1989, and the subsequent consultation period ended in October 1989. The Basic Law was formally promulgated on 4 April 1990 by the NPC, together with the designs for the flag and emblem of the HKSAR.

Blueprint for HKSAR

Major provisions which set out the basic policies of the PRC regarding the HKSAR are described below.

General Principles

Relationship Between the Central Authority & the HKSAR

Protection of Rights and Freedoms

Political Structure

The Executive Authorities

The Legislature

The Judiciary


Education, Science, Culture, Sports, Religion, Labour and Social Services

External Affairs

Interpretation And Amendment Of The Basic Law