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Hong Kong - Government and Economy

Hong Kong is a city-state that has a high degree of independence despite its handover to China. The region maintains its capitalist economic system and guarantees the rights and freedoms of its people for at least 50 years past the 1997 handover. Individual rights and this guarantee are protected in the Hong Kong Basic Law which was based on the Common Law of England, unlike China which practices civil law. The Hong Kong Basic Law outlines the system of supremacy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, but which is subject to the understanding of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

The Judiciary, Executive Council, Legislative Council, and the civil service are the mainstay of government in Hong Kong. The Chief Executive, who lives in the Government House, heads the Executive Council and is elected by the Election Committee and appointed by the Central People’s Government. Public servants are appointed based on their meritocracy while the civil service is a neutral body that provides government services and executes policies. There are 60 members in the Legislative Council. Half of these members are elected by universal suffrage by permanent residents of Hong Kong according to five geographical constituencies. The functional constituencies make up the rest and these are elected by a smaller electorate. The President of the Legislative Council makes up the whole council and acts as the speaker.

The government proposed an anti-subversion bill pursuant to Article 23 of the Basic Law in 2002. This required the sanction of laws prohibiting acts of treason and sedition against the Chinese government. It was met with conflict and in time abandoned. In 2009, the government issued a scheme called the "Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the LegCo in 2012". This proposed the expansion of the Election Committee from 800 members to 1,200 in 2012 and the legislature from 60 to 70 seats. The Democratic Party countered with their own offer which the Central People's Government ultimately accepted.

The legal system of Hong Kong is autonomous from Mainland China’s. Whereas China has a civil law system, Hong Kong follows the English Common Law. As such, the courts in Hong Kong can refer to decisions submitted by courts of other common law jurisdictions as examples and judges from additional common law jurisdictions may sit as non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal.

The court system consists of the District Court, Court of Final Appeal, the High Court, and the Court of First Instance. Additional bodies include the Small Claims Tribunal, Lands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts, the Obscene Articles Tribunal, the Juvenile Court, the Coroner's Court, and the Labour Tribunal. The Department of Justice handles legal matters for the government by offering legal advice, civil representation, criminal prosecution, legal and policy outlining and reform, and international legal cooperation between the assorted jurisdictions.

With its unitary system of government; there hasn’t been a local government in Hong Kong since the two municipal councils were done away with in 2000. There isn’t an official definition for its cities and towns, as a result, although organizationally at least it is sectioned off into 18 geographic districts with each one represented by a district council. This council advises the government on local matters like environmental improvements, community programs, public facilities, and cultural activities.

Since it’s one of the financial hubs of the world, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy. Free trade and low taxation exist in Hong Kong. Indeed, the Hong Kong dollar is currently the eighth most traded currency in the world. It’s an important center for trade and international finance and is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers thanks to its high growth rates and rapid development. From 1961 and 1997 the gross domestic product of Hong Kong grew 180 times while the per-capita GDP increased 87 times over.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the seventh largest in the world and has a market capitalization of US$2.3 trillion as 2009. There is little to no industrial policy and nearly no import or export controls. Hong Kong is a leading center for banking, management, financial, IT, business consultation and professional services. The service sector dominates the economy and accounts for over 90% of its GDP. The biggest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.

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