This chapter deals with the fundamental principles of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's (HKSAR's) legal system, which include the common law system, rule of law, judicial independence, and the protection of human rights. It explores the two new institutional arrangements that were introduced after the handover, namely the power of final adjudication (vested with the Court of Final Appeal) and the power of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (SCNPC), to interpret the Basic Law. The chapter then argues that the SCNPC's power to interpret the Basic Law has established an institutional link between the HKSAR legal system and the Chinese legal system. Furthermore, the impact of SCNPC's interpretation of the Basic Law on the HKSAR courts is investigated. It is noted that the judiciary is able to maintain the principle of rule of law and human rights of the Hong Kong people if matters it adjudicates do not involve the interests of the central authorities. The Hong Kong judiciary is as powerless as the citizen who has started the judicial review proceeding. In the long run, judicial autonomy in Hong Kong will be hurt by more frequent interpretation of the Basic Law by the SCNPC.
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