"One country, two systems" in practice : an analysis of six cases

Yiu-chung WONG

Research output: Working paperWorking paper series


The resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was unique in the decolonization history of the United Kingdom. For the first time a piece of British colony was returned to another sovereign power without becoming an independent country. For the PRC, the resumption of sovereignty was a natural course of event because China had never admitted that Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom. After initial contacts between Britain and China in the late 1970s, Chinese government decided to take back Hong Kong in 1981. In 1982, the fourth constitution since the founding of the PRC promulgated the notion of Special Administrative Region. The principle of “one country, two systems” was devised to solve the issue of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. In recovering Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) encountered a dilemma: on the one hand, it would like to resume sovereignty over Hong Kong; on the other hand, it would like to maintain the status quo as to preserve prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Hopefully, the “one country, two systems” could solve the problem.

Now fours years after the handover, people would ask the question whether the notion of “one country, two systems” has been successfully implemented. In fact, one could even ask; what is actually the principle of “one country,two systems”? Where is the line between “one country” and “two systems”? The paper attempts to answer these questions by exploring six cases that occurred after the handover. The paper starts with a general discussion on the concept, followed by a delineation of six cases and the implications of these cases for “one country, two systems” would be drawn. In fact, some scholars argued that under “one country, two systems” Hong Kong enjoys a higher degree of autonomy than the local/regional governments under Western federal systems. The paper tries to answer the question by referring to Australian and American federal systems.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherCentre for Public Policy Studies
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2001

Publication series

NameCentre for Public Policy Studies Working Paper Series
PublisherLingnan University


Dive into the research topics of '"One country, two systems" in practice : an analysis of six cases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this