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Senior Fellow Tom Kellogg Examines Recent Constitutional Developments in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

In an article published in the January 2008 issue of the Hong Kong Journal, Senior Fellow Thomas Kellogg examines the impact of Basic Law Article 158 in Hong Kong's constitutional development.  Article 158 was written to harmonize the constitutional authority of the National People's Congress Standing Committee and the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.  

Kellogg argues that the text of Article 158 lacks clarity and raises several questions: When, and by what process, does the Standing Committee issue interpretations?  Are other branches of the Hong Kong government permitted to ask the Standing Committee to issue an interpretation?  Most crucially, has the Standing Committee fully delegated its authority to interpret Basic Law provisions that do not concern "affairs which are the responsibility of the Central People's Government, or concerning the relationship between the Central Authorities and the Region?" 

Kellogg concludes that the Basic Law Committee maintains the potential to set a broader example for the future of constitutionalism on the Mainland; if the Committee is permitted to develop, it may boost the gradually increasing momentum to establish a constitutional committee of the National People's Congress as a more legitimate instrument for interpreting the PRC Constitution itself.