What Type of Government Does Hong Kong Have?

The flag of Hong Kong.
The flag of Hong Kong.

Hong-Kong is an independent territory on the banks of the Pearl River in China. In official records, it is referred to as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Historically, Hong Kong was a busy trading center in Asia given its strategic location and natural harbor. In 1841, British forces seized the territory and it became a British colony. Hong Kong experienced significant developments under the British rule. As a result of its expansion, Hong Kong attracted many immigrants, especially from Europe and China. Except for a brief period when Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese, the territory remained under British rule until July 1, 1997, when the British land lease expired. Hong Kong ceased being a British territory and became part of the People's Republic of China. It's official name is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Republic of China. Hong Kong retained its autonomy and laws. The government in Hong Kong has three primary branches.

Executive Branch of Government

The executive branch is headed by the chief executive, who is also the head of government in Hong Kong. An elective committee consisting of 1,200 selected members elects the chief executive of Hong Kong, which is is subject to approval by the Chinese government. The chief executive serves for five years. Duties of the head of government include approving the budget, signing bills, deciding on government policies and giving executive orders. The chief executive works closely with the financial secretary, administration chief, and other senior officials who form the executive council.

Legislative Branch of Government

Hong Kong has only one legislative chamber composed of 70 members. 40 members are elected by the public through a majority vote. The remaining members of the legislative council are elected by selected representatives from specific sectors in the country. The members are elected every four years. The legislative council is headed by the speaker, and its primary duties are to debate policies and approve or reject proposed bills.

Judicial Branch of Government

Hong Kong’s judiciary is an independent institution. It uses laws closely linked to the British Common Law and Chinese customary law in family cases. The institution is led by the secretary for justice. The highest court in Hong Kong is the court of final appeal. Other courts are the high court, district courts, magistrates’ courts, and the juvenile court. The chief executive appoints judges in Hong Kong courts. Duties of the judiciary are to provide legal advice to the government, prosecute criminals, and handle all legal matters in Hong Kong.

Civil Service

The civil service is comprised of customs officers, government clerks, the police, and other government workers. Members of the civil service are appointed based on merit. The institution of civil servants is required by law to be politically neutral. Primary duties of civil servants are to offer public services and implement government plans.

Administrative Units

Hong Kong is a united territory and is divided into districts. The territory has 18 districts which are led by the district council. The officials at the district work in close collaboration with the main government of Hong Kong on community programs, environmental matters, and national events.


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