One country, two systems

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"One country, two systems" (Simplified Chinese: 一国两制; Traditional Chinese: 一國兩制; pinyin: yī guó liǎng zhì; Jyutping: jat1 gwok3 loeng5 zai3; Yale: yāt gwok leúhng jai) is an idea originally proposed by Deng Xiaoping, then paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC), for the unification of China.


Hong Kong and Macau

In 1984, Deng Xiaoping proposed to apply the principle to Hong Kong in the negotiation talks with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher over the future of Hong Kong when the lease of the New Territories (incl. New Kowloon) of Hong Kong to Britain was to expire in 1997.

The principle is that upon reunification, despite the practice of socialism in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, which were formerly colonies of United Kingdom and Portugal respectively, can continue to practice capitalism under a high degree of autonomy for fifty years after reunification.

The establishment of these regions, called Special Administrative Regions (SARs), are authorized by Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, which states that the State may establish SARs when necessary, and that the systems to be instituted in them shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People's Congress in light of the specific conditions.

The SARs of Hong Kong and Macau were formally established on July 1, 1997 and December 20, 1999 respectively, immediately after the People's Republic of China (PRC) resumed the exercise of sovereignty over the respective regions.


The two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are responsible for all issues, with their own judiciaries and courts of final appeal, immigration policies, currencies and extradition, except the following.

Hong Kong remains using common law, whereas Macau remains using the Portuguese legal system.

Both SARs have their own passports, which require 7 years of residence in the SAR, and citizenships are differentiated from Chinese citizens in the mainland (i.e. three types of citizenships).


In Hong Kong, the system has been implemented through the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which serves as the mini-constitution of the region, and consistent with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Similar arrangements are in place with Macau.

Under the respective basic laws, the SARs have a high degree of autonomy and enjoys executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. They formulate their own monetary and financial policies, maintain their own currencies, formulate their own policies on education, culture, sports, social welfare system, etc. within the framework of the basic laws.

As stipulated by the basic laws, while the Central People's Government of the PRC is responsible for foreign affairs and defence in relation to the SARs, representatives of the Government of the SARs may participate, as members of delegations of the PRC, in diplomatic negotiations that directly affect the Regions, and in other international organizations or conferences limited to states and affecting the region. For those international organizations and conferences not limited to states, the SARs may participate using the names in the form of "Hong Kong, China". As separate economic entities, both SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are members of the World Trade Organization. Hong Kong is also one of the member economies of APEC.

The basic laws also provide constitutional protection on various fundamental human rights and freedoms. Specifically, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is given a constitutional status through the basic laws.

Some international observers and human rights organisations have expressed doubts over the future freedom of expressing political opinions, and on the pledge of high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong. They considered, for example, that the proposals on Article 23 of the Basic Law in 2003 (which was withdrawn due to mass opposition) might have undermined freedoms. Some also criticized that Beijing's influence on the democratic developments in Hong Kong could undermine the pledge of a high degree of autonomy.

Nonetheless, the governments of the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong both consider that the principle has been successfully implemented, quoting official reports of both the United Kingdom and the United States. Public polls have also shown that among the various areas of governance, the public is most satisfied with the degree of freedoms enjoyed.


This system has also been proposed by the PRC government for Taiwan, but the Republic of China government has refused this offer. Special provisions for a Taiwanese military have also been proposed. The concept of "One country, two systems" tends to be highly unpopular in Taiwan, with polls consistently showing 80% opposition and only about 10% support. All of the major parties in Taiwan, including those that lean toward Chinese reunification have come out strongly against "One country, two systems." One of the very few Taiwanese who have publicly supported "One country, two systems" is novelist Li Ao.

See also

External links

de:Ein Land, zwei Systeme he:מדינה_אחת,_שתי_שיטות


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