The Intersection of Chinese Law and the Common Law in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong: Question of Technique or Politics?

  • Yash Ghai

One of the principal concerns of the Hong Kong people as China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong was the future of the common law (an expression meaning not only judge-made law, but the entire legal and judicial system, including what were perceived to be the values and procedures of the common law). People saw the common law as the principal protection against what they regarded as unjust and oppressive Chinese practices. British policy and strategy during the colonial period was to dampen demands for democracy but emphasise the benefits of the British system of justice. Under this approach, the Rule of Law became the main source of the legitimacy of British rule. The common law and the Rule of Law acquired almost mystical qualities as China repressed the democracy movement in Beijing in 1989, and, with the connivance of Britain, refused a recognisable democratic system for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The celebration of the common law was matched by the demonisation of Chinese law. Mainland authorities and their Hong Kong supporters tried (and they continue) to detract from the Leninst features of the Chinese system by claiming that it was rooted in the civil law tradition.


Chief Executive Central Authority Chinese Communist Party Judicial Review Legislative Council 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yash Ghai
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.University of Cape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.United Nations Development ProgrammeNepal
  4. 4.United Nations Secretary General for human rightsmCambodia

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