Two Systems HKSAR and PRC government Relationship

One Country: Two Systems HKSAR and PRC government Relationship

Slide 1: Introduction

The 1997 handover was momentous in that it marked the beginning of the One Country, Two Systems agreement, which ensured that Hong Kong would be able to maintain its separate political, social, and legal structures under a unified China for at least fifty years without interruption (Tiexun, 2011). A great deal has changed in the interaction between the federal and local governments as well. The dispute over whether or not China remains a unitary state or if it has evolved into a federalist state is thus extremely heated. Ultimately, the One Country, Two Systems is a de facto federal system that describes the relations between HKSAR government and the PRC government, one that has evolved over time with the help of the openness and reforms that have China open up to global ideas, both in economic and political regards.

Slide 2: Central-Local Relationship

There are many interesting questions about how policies decided at the highest levels of the formal system can be implemented by the many intermediary and local actors throughout the system, which is of particular interest to developmental theorists because they illustrate an incredibly interesting puzzle in modern governance, especially in the One Country, Two Systems in HKSAR and PRC governments (Wong & Xiao, 2018). An additional feature in the case of China has been the contradiction between the authoritarian veneer of the Chinese system, which indicates a larger predisposition for central control, and obvious implementation failures in many policy areas. Many implementations have failed, raising questions about China’s ability to deal with domestic governance issues and fulfill its growing international obligations.

Slide 3: De Facto Federalism

A federalist structure of governance is not in place in the People’s Republic of China. Nonetheless, as reform and openness continue to develop, China’s political structure, particularly regarding central–local interactions, is becoming more and more similar to a federal system. Because of its likeness to federalism, there is a close link between the actions of the government and what happens in the local context (Tiexun, 2011). However, in the HKSAR and PRC government relationship, the policy directions from Beijing are not necessarily followed to the latter as with a central system, yet HKSAR is not completely independent to act with zero regard to the PRC government. The resulting formula is a central-local relationship that denotes de facto federalism. China’s central-local interactions are increasingly based on federalist ideas as the country’s reform and openness continue to grow. For example, major policies, officer appointments, executive representation, judicial system, legislative exercises, and other forms of separation of powers have seen major reforms, incorporating a hint of central approval with elements of local participation in the HKSAR and PRC governments.

Slide 4: De Facto Federalism Continued

De facto federalism is a reflection of central-local relations, in part because of characteristics such as the degree of local autonomy and the reciprocity mechanism that exists within such contacts, but also because of other considerations. China’s central-local connection, on the other hand, is distinct in a number of respects. According to current thinking, the Chinese culture must be united in order for anything to change (Zhu, 2012). Because China’s dynamic central-local connection has a long history of non-institutionalized power distribution, the central government makes stronger efforts to adjust the allocation of power to the local level in a dynamic central-local relationship. It is because of these characteristics that de facto federalism has been curtailed. As a result of this dynamic link, the project mechanism has increased in importance, and the central government appears to be taking an increasing amount of initiative in its dealings with local authorities.

Slide 5: Conclusion

Federalism, Chinese style, is very unique. The HKSAR and PRC governments are not described as having a federal system, in the One Country, Two Systems approach, yet de facto federalism is evident. There are forms of administrative, economic, and political decentralization that have left HKSAR and PRC governments in an indescribable relationship, where HKSAR has independence yet with limited control from the PRC government.

Slide 6: References

Tiexun, L. E. N. G. (2011). On the Fundamental Characteristics of the “One Country, Two Systems” Policy. Academic Journal of “One Country, Two Systems, 1, 49-59.

Wong, W., & Xiao, H. (2018). Twenty years of Hong Kong and Macao under Chinese rule: being absorbed under ‘one country, two systems’. Public Money & Management, 38(6), 411-418.

Zhu, G. (2012). The composite state of China under “One Country, Multiple Systems”: Theoretical construction and methodological considerations. International Journal of Constitutional Law, 10(1), 272-297.