Since reverting to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed a unique autonomy under the “One Country – Two Systems” principle, established by the Chinese government. Under this formula, the territory was given a high degree of autonomy to maintain its economic and social systems for fifty years from the date of the handover.

The “One Country – Two Systems” concept is the product of negotiations conducted between the governments of China and the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. Supported by the principle, it seeks to preserve Hong Kong’s unique cultural, social, and economic institutions after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty, allowing the city to maintain a separate identity from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The People’s Republic of China has agreed to maintain its “One Country – Two Systems” policy towards Hong Kong, in order to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the region. Under the concept, Hong Kong remains an open market with low tax rates and strict business regulations, allowing it to remain competitive in an ever-changing global economy. Furthermore, it provides the autonomy for the territory to maintain its independent judiciary, legislative, and executive systems.

The China-Britain Joint Declaration, an agreement between the two countries, allows the city to retain its current capitalist system and enjoys a large degree of autonomy under the “One Country – Two Systems” principle. In this framework, the central Chinese government refrains from interfering with the daily lives of Hongkongers, allowing them to practice and observe their own culture and traditions.

The arrangement also creates a framework for the functioning of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR government, which is accountable to the Chinese Central Government in Beijing, is responsible for exercising the autonomy of the region. It preserves the current economic and social systems that are in effect and is responsible for making laws and regulations related to fundamental public and domestic policies.

Hong Kong is a leader in business and commerce, providing a strong anchor of stability in the region. In a practical sense, the “One Country – Two Systems” principle provides the basis for the thriving Hong Kong economy, while also safeguarding the political objectives of the region. As the territory reaffirms its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the “One Country – Two Systems” principle, it continues to benefit from the economic, social and political freedoms the arrangement offers.

The “One Country – Two Systems” principle has been instrumental in ensuring the successful transition of HK from a colonial state to the became world-class city it is today. It has provided a stable, well governed and diverse environment that embraces the need for both economic progress and social harmony. And while there has been much discussion about the need to amend certain aspects of the principle, it has nonetheless served as a tangible reminder of Hong Kong’s unique political standing among its counterparts in the East.

As Hong Kong marks the 23rd anniversary of the handover, the “One Country – Two Systems” principle remains an integral and vital part of the region’s development. As the Chinese and Hong Kong governments look to the future, they will continue to ensure that the concept remains a cornerstone of the region’s cultural and economic prosperity.