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One country, two systems

One country, two systems
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 一国两制
Traditional Chinese 一國兩制
Portuguese name
Portuguese Um país, dois sistemas

"One Country, Two Systems" is a constitutional principle formulated by Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC), for the reunification of China during the early 1980s. He suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan could retain their own capitalist economic and political systems, while the rest of China uses the socialist system. Under the principle, each of the three regions could continue to have its own political system, legal, economic and financial affairs, including external relations with foreign countries. Taiwan could continue to maintain its own military force.[1]


  • History Of Hong Kong 1
  • Hong Kong and Macau 2
    • Framework 2.1
    • Implementation 2.2
  • Republic of China/Taiwan 3
  • Recent Approaches to Democracy 4
  • Comparison to proposals for Tibet 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

History Of Hong Kong

Hong Kong remained a colony of the United Kingdom, ruled by a governor for 156 years until 1997 when it was returned to Chinese sovereignty. However, China had to accept some conditions such as Hong Kong's basic law before its return. The basic law ensured Hong Kong will retain its own currency (the Hong Kong Dollar), legal system, parliamentary system and people's rights and freedom for fifty years; which means that the agreement will end in 2047. This agreement had given Hong Kong the freedom to functions as its own country instead of a part of China, Hong Kong citizens experience freedom in various ways compare with the citizens in mainland such as the freedom of speech, freedom in media and press. As a result, the Chinese Reminibi (Chinese currency) is not accepted in most stores in Hong Kong. Likewise, the Hong Kong Dollar is not accepted in stores in China. With this arrangement, a permit or visa is required when passing the borders of Hong Kong and China, people in Hong Kong generally hold Hong Kong passports rather than Chinese passports. The official languages are the major factor besides the history of the former colony that made Hong Kong and China the most distinguishable; as Cantonese and English are the most widely used languages in Hong Kong while Mandarin is the official language in China. Despite all these difference, mainland China still owns most of the control over issues such as voting and policies, thus, Hong Kong is still fighting for democracy rather than giving in on the rights that they deserve to the central government in main land China.

[2] [3] [4]

Hong Kong and Macau

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

The principle is that, upon reunification, despite the practice of socialism in mainland China, both Hong Kong and Macau, which were colonies of the UK and Portugal respectively, can retain their established system under a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years after reunification. What will happen after 2047 (Hong Kong) and 2049 (Macau) has never been publicly stated.

Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, reads:[5]

The establishment of these regions, called special administrative regions (SARs), is 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 1 July 1997 and 20 December 1999 respectively, immediately after the People's Republic of China (PRC) assumed the sovereignty over the respective regions.


The two SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are responsible for their domestic affairs including, but not limited to, the judiciary and courts of last resort, immigration and customs, public finance, currencies and extradition. Important cultural effects are exemption of the SARs from mainland laws mandating the use of simplified characters in publishing and Mandarin in public education and most broadcasting. The diplomatic relations and regional defense of the two SARs however, is the responsibility of the Central People's Government in Beijing.

Hong Kong continues using English common law and Macau continues using the Portuguese civil law system.


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 enjoy 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 defense 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 and Macau, China. As separate economic entities, both SARs of Hong Kong and Macau are members of the 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 organizations have expressed doubts about the future of the relative political freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong, and about the PRC's pledge to allow a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong. They considered, for example, that the proposals in Article 23 of the Basic Law in 2003 (which was withdrawn due to mass opposition) might have undermined autonomy. On 10 June 2014, Beijing released a new report asserting its authority over the territory. This ignited criticism from many people in Hong Kong, who said that the Communist leadership was reneging on its pledges to abide by the "one country, two systems" policy that allows for a democratic, autonomous Hong Kong under Beijing's rule.[8]

Nonetheless, the governments of the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong both consider the principle to have been successfully implemented, quoting official reports of both the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Central People's Government in Beijing maintain relations with Hong Kong government through the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong. For Macau, Beijing uses the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region in Macau. While the counterpart offices of the Hong Kong government for the Central People's Government in Beijing is the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Beijing, and Macau government's office in Beijing is the Office of the Macau Special Administrative Region in Beijing.

Republic of China/Taiwan

This system has also been proposed by the PRC government for Taiwan, but the Republic of China (ROC) government has refused this suggestion (it has also been claimed that the system was originally designed for Taiwan). Special provisions for the preservation of the military in Taiwan have also been proposed. All of the major parties in Taiwan, including those that lean toward Chinese reunification, have come out strongly against "One country, two systems". Some proposed "One country, two governments" which was opposed by the Chinese communist party, while some proposed the "one country" in "One country, two systems" should be ROC instead of PRC. One of the few Taiwanese who have publicly supported "one country, two systems" is novelist Li Ao.

Although the "One country, two systems" guarantees that Hong Kong's economic and political systems will not be changed for 50 years after the British handover in 1997, Mainland Affairs Council of the Republic of China has cited 169 cases in which they claim the PRC has breached the right of the people of Hong Kong to self-rule and severely intervened in the judicial system as well as freedom of speech.[9]

Since the accession of Hu Jintao as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China on 15 November 2002, the PRC has stopped promoting immediate reunification via "one country, two systems", although it remains official policy. The "one country, two systems" framework was not mentioned in the Anti-Secession Law of the People's Republic of China passed on 14 March 2005 to prevent the growing Taiwan independence movement at that time. A new policy of gradual economic integration and political exchanges is now preferred under the 1992 Consensus:[10] this new policy was emphasized during the 2005 Pan-Blue visits to mainland China in April 2005[11] as well as all subsequent major cross-strait exchanges, especially after Ma Ying-jeou from the pro-reunification Kuomintang party won the 2008 Republic of China presidential election. During his visit to Beijing in March 2012, former Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Po-hsiung proposed the One country, two areas (Chinese: 一國兩區) framework to govern the cross-strait relations.[12] During the 2013 National Day of the Republic of China address on 10 October 2013, President Ma Ying-jeou addressed the public stating that people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all Chinese by ethnicity and that cross-strait relations are not international relations.[13]

Due to the growing pressure for the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to engage in the cross-strait development over the past recent years developed by KMT-CPC, the DPP finally softened its stance on its Taiwan independence movement when the former chairman Frank Hsieh visited Mainland China on 4–8 October 2012, a groundbreaking visit by the highest rank in DPP, although he claimed that this trip was done in his private capacity and as a non-politician.[14] The DPP also established its party China Affairs Committee on 21 November 2012[15] and proposed the Broad One China Framework (Chinese: 大一中原則) on 27 May 2014 led by former chairman Shih Ming-teh.[16]

Recent Approaches to Democracy

Though people in regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan enjoy much more democracy than people in mainland China does, the fact that the Chinese government still owns the power over both regions in different degrees has made the implementation of democracy crucial. Recently, "Umbrella Revolution", "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" happened in Hong Kong and the "Sunflower Student Movement" that happened in Taiwan reflect the need of the "real" democracy from people. People strive for the freedom in suffrage that they occupied the Hong Kong's local government and several main intersections, rejecting the electoral reform that was announced by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement/Cross-strait agreement on trade in services that the ruling party Kuomintang signed with the Chines government without clause by clause review and correctly educating people about the trade agreement has aggravated the society that they request a withdrawal of the trade agreement. Started with students, people occupied the legislative yuan (the legislative department) to boycott the government. Taiwan and Hong Kong are in similar political situation with China that both region struggles on maintaining democracy. "Hong Kong does provide a model for Taiwan in the other direction: The repressive and undemocratic moves by Beijing showed the people of Taiwan what would happen if they were to move too closely to China. The recent developments are a clear indication to Taiwan that rapprochement with Beijing on the basis of the current policies would be detrimental to the hard-won freedom and democracy in that country" [17] [18]

Comparison to proposals for Tibet

The 14th Dalai Lama's 2005 proposal for "high-level autonomy" for Tibet, evolved from a position of advocating Tibetan independence, has been compared to one country, two systems. He has said that his proposals should be acceptable to China because "one country, two systems" is accommodated for in the Chinese Constitution. State media rejected this claim, pointing out that "one country, two systems" was designed for the capitalist social systems of Hong Kong and Macau, which had not ever existed in Tibet.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "" One Country, Two Systems. Retrieved on 4 January 2008.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "1898 and all that--a Brief History of Hong Kong." The Economist Jun 28 1997: 22. ProQuest. Web. 7 Dec. 2014 .
  5. ^ "Chapter I : General Principles".  
  6. ^ Luo, Jing. Over A Cup of Tea: An Introduction To Chinese Life And Culture. [2004] (2004). University Press of America China. ISBN 0-7618-2937-7
  7. ^ Wong, Yiu-chung. [2004] (2004). One Country, Two Systems in Crisis: Hong Kong's Transformation. Lexington Books. Hong Kong. ISBN 0-7391-0492-6.
  8. ^ "Beijing's 'White Paper' Sets Off a Firestorm in Hong Kong". The New York Times. 11 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Chen vows to safeguard Taiwan sovereignty, rejects China overture". MediaCorp News. 29 June 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  10. ^ "The Risk of War Over Taiwan is Real". Financial Times. 1 May 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  11. ^ "Hopes grow as second Taiwan leader visits China". The Age (Melbourne). 13 May 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  12. ^ One country, two areas' proposed by Wu Po-hsiung – Taipei Times"'". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Frank Hsieh confirms visit to China – Taipei Times". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Broad one-China framework' set – Taipei Times"'". Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ YUEN, SAMSON. "Under The Shadow Of China." China Perspectives 2014.2 (2014): 69-76. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Dec. 2014.
  19. ^ One country, two systems" not possible for Tibet""". China Tibet Information Center (Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States). 28 July 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
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