Date
29 March 2017
Hong Kong's Basic Law will remain valid even after 2047, as there is no expiry date for the legislation as of now, Albert Chen says. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong's Basic Law will remain valid even after 2047, as there is no expiry date for the legislation as of now, Albert Chen says. Photo: HKEJ

Basic Law remains valid after 2047, as of now: law expert

Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution, will remain valid even after 2047 as there is no expiry date for the legislation as of now, a law expert said on Tuesday.

Albert Chen Hung-yee, a professor of Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, said at a forum that the Basic Law will continue to be effective from a legal standpoint until some amendments are made or it is abolished, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

At a discussion organized by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) on “One County, Two Systems”, Chen, who is a member of the Basic Law Committee, said it is too early to fret about what happens after 2047, when a Sino-British agreement related to Hong Kong’s handover will expire.

Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, Beijing had promised to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life for a period of 50 years until 2047, under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Worries about what will happen to Hong Kong after 2047 have prompted some radical groups in the city to call for discussions on the city’s future.

There have been concerns that Beijing could impose its own laws and make Hong Kong just another Chinese city.

Amid this debate, Chen said Tuesday that he doesn’t see a problem as of now.

While there may be some voices demanding discussion or even revision of the Basic Law, there is no point in beginning that debate right now as 2047 is still many years away, he said.

Describing the implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” mechanism as being “basically successful” so far, and calling it the best option for Hong Kong, Chen noted that its future success hinges on how well can differences in political systems between Hong Kong and the mainland be managed under the “One Country” framework.

The key lies in striking a balance between national sovereignty and the high autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong, he said.

Speaking at the same forum, lawmaker Maria Tam Wai-chu also agreed that the Basic Law will not become extinct after 2047.

Hongkongers must know the rules of the game and must not ignore the importance of national security and a dialogue with Beijing, said Tam, who was also a member of the Basic Law committee.

If Hong Kong people’s acts threaten national security in any way, one cannot blame Beijing for seeking tighter control over the city, she said.

Ronny Tong, convenor of the Path of Democracy think-tank and a former lawmaker, said at the forum that he sees more contradictions than compromises in Hong Kong currently, and they pose a threat for success and continuation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

TL/DY/RC

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