The Basic Law and Democratization in Hong Kong
Loyal International Law Review, Vol. 3, No. 165, 2006
22 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2011
Date Written: September, 28 2011
Hong Kong's constitution, the Hong Kong Basic Law ("Basic Law"), has sparked a number of debates over democratization and its pace. It is generally understood that greater democratization will mean greater autonomy and vice versa, less democracy means more control by Beijing. Will the democracy promised under the "one country, two systems" formula in Hong Kong be achieved? Does Beijing's constant interference to head off democratization also pose a grave risk to the rule of law and related stability in Hong Kong? The April 26, 2004 response of the Standing Committee to the Chief Executive's report sealed the doom for democratic reform, essentially barring any meaningful reform for the 2007-2008 elections by requiring continued use of the Election Committee for selecting the Chief Executive - though its membership could be increased - and specifying that the current ratio of directly elected to functional legislators be maintained. The interpretation, by effectively amending the Basic Law, posed a severe threat to Hong Kong's autonomy and rule of law, and largely took the democratic reform debate out of Hong Kong hands. While the democratic camp has insisted that the nominating committee for popular election of the Chief Executive not be used as a device to screen out democratic candidates, their stance faces severe resistance from Beijing supporters.
Keywords: democratization, Hong Kong, constitutional law
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