One Country, Two International Legal Personalities: The Case of Hong Kong

One Country, Two International Legal Personalities: The Case of Hong Kong

One Country, Two International Legal Personalities: The Case of Hong Kong

One Country, Two International Legal Personalities: The Case of Hong Kong

Excerpt

Hong Kong, a community traditionally preoccupied with the maximization of economic value and shunning international political attention, has found itself since the early 1980s in the centre of events of a distinctly transnational character. Whether deliberately or unintentionally, China has decided, with Britain's 'active acquiescence', to assert its sovereignty over the territory, thrusting it into a position of international prominence and spawning a host of complex questions regarding its new legal status and obligations and rights arising therefrom.

While some of these questions may not elicit a consensual response or one grounded in traditional concepts, they should be explored in a systematic fashion given the fact that they pertain to the future of 5.8 million people who have developed an unmistakable sense of identity and who have come to be perceived by others as international actors in their own right. Further, those people seem to have aspirations which transcend the confines of the Chinese body-politic and the legitimacy of these aspirations is apparently recognized by other relevant parties.

The international legal aspects of Hong Kong's predicament are also of considerable academic interest. The concept of 'one country-two systems' is without direct parallel in international law and there is an obvious need to determine its formal parameters and examine its practical implications. The study of this original concept may also highlight its potential contribution as an institutional vehicle for dispute resolution and as a possible model for the management of territorial entities which either claim or enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

The international legal dimension of the territory's evolution from a British dependency to a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China [HKSAR] may be worth analysing for the benefit of its commercial partners as well, both actual and prospective. Hong Kong, its relatively small size notwithstanding, has extensive trade links, and those engaged in business relationships with it, or contemplating such ties, may . . .

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