Q. Will the border be freely open to mainland Chinese?
A. No. The Basic Law stipulates that Chinese citizens will have to apply for entry to Hong Kong, and that the number of Chinese citizens per year allowed to move to Hong Kong will be set by the Beijing in consultation with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government. At present 38,000 mainlanders are allowed to enter Hong Kong each year. A reliable source says that the Chinese government intends to increase this figure to 80,000-110,000 a year.
Q. Is it true that any child born in Hong Kong automatically gets residency?
A. A loophole in the Basic Law says that any Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong either before or after the handover will be granted permanent residency status. Thus, the sight of heavily pregnant mainland women waddling across the border under cover of darkness to bear their children in Hong Kong has been all too frequent in recent years. In 1994 alone, 10,000 such children were born in Hong Kong. Estimates suggest by the handover there will be 64,000 mainland children with the right of abode after June 30, 1997.
Q. What role will the PLA play in Hong Kong?
A. Both the Basic Law and Chinese officials say that the PLA will have a purely defensive role, not a police role. The only way the PLA can become involved in public security is: 1) if the Chief Executive asks the Beijing for its assistance in disaster relief or maintaining public order; or 2) the National People's Congress decides that turmoil within the HK SAR endangers national security or unity and is beyond the control of the HK government.
Q. Will the death penalty be enforced?
A. No. At present, except for replacing the UK's Privy Council with a new court of final appeal, the Basic Law provides for the Hong Kong legal system to continue as it is. The practice in recent years has been to suspend the death penalty in capital crimes.
Q. What formal Chinese bodies will be represented in the SAR?
A. The Basic Law provides for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have an office in Hong Kong, which is currently being built on Kennedy Rd. The Chinese Government is still deciding what presence (if any) its office will take in Hong Kong. Current proposals include continuing use of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office or setting up an independent office. Any other Chinese local or national government department will, according to the Basic Law, have no say in Hong Kong affairs but may open liaison offices there with the approval of both the SAR government and Beijing.
Q. Should CH Tung get hit by a bus, who would take over?
A. The Basic Law stipulates that if anything happens to the Chief Executive, the first person to take over would be the administrative secretary (likely to be Anson Chan), then the financial secretary and then the secretary of justice. Within six months of the chief executive's office becoming vacant, a new Chief Executive must be chosen.
Q. How long is the chief executive's term of office?
A. Five years, and Chief Executives may not serve more than two consecutive terms.
Q. What was the `through train' and where has it gone?
A. The 'through train' has been derailed. It was the concept that the term of the Legislative Council elected prior to the handover would actually straddle June 30, 1997, with that Legco continuing to serve for two years after the handover. However, Patten's reforms ? which allowed Hong Kong's first 100 per cent democratically-elected Legco in September 1995 ? were seen by the Chinese as contravening the Basic Law's very specific outline of how universal suffrage would be introduced in Legco over a period of 10 years. Thus the Chinese announced in summer 1996 that the current Legco would be dissolved after the handover and that a provisional legislature would be elected by the same 400-member selection committee which picked CH Tung as the chief executive. The 60-member Provisional Legislature will serve a shortened term of two years beginning from third quarter 1996.
Q. How will Legco be elected in future?
A. In 1998 a four-year term Legco will be elected in the following manner: 30 members by the functional constituencies, six members by the election committee and 24 members via geographical constituencies' direct elections. In 2002 Legco will be 50 per cent elected through the functional constituencies and 50 per cent through geographical constituencies.
Q. Will foreigners still be able to gain permanent residency in Hong Kong?
A. Yes. This is codified in the Basic Law; the qualification for permanent residency shall continue to be seven years of continuous residency in Hong Kong.
Q. Will Mandarin become compulsory for all student in schools?
A. It is already taught from the third year of primary school to the third year of secondary school. Two years from now this will increase to Mandarin being taught from the first year of school to the last.
Q. Will the role of Xinhua change?
A. Currently, Xinhua operates as the 'unofficial official' voice of Beijing in Hong Kong. After the handover, when Beijing will have official representatives there, Xinhua is likely to go back to being simply the local office of Beijing's news agency.
Q. Will Filipina maids still be allowed or will Hong Kong people have to employ mainland amahs?
A. Both Jiang Zemin and Li Peng have reassured President Ramos of the Philippines that Filipinas ? Hong Kong's largest group of foreign residents ? would retain their status in Hong Kong after 1997. It will be up to the SAR government whether it wants to slow the issuance of visas to new Filipina immigrants, however.
Q. Will there be fewer holidays?
A. No, just different ones. In 1997 there will be three extra holidays; July 1 and 2 to celebrate the handover plus October 1 to celebrate Chitia's national day. The Queen's birthday holiday will be postponed to Monday June 30,1997. By 1998 Hong Kong will be back to its normal 17 holidays per year, with a few exceptions: instead of the Queen's birthday in June the handover will be celebrated in July, liberation day in August will celebrate the Sino-Japanese war and not the liberation of Hong Kong, and October 1 will be celebrated.
Q. Will the Jockey Club begin operations in China?
A. Since the early 1990s, the Jockey Club has been advising race betting and lottery systems to be operated throughout the mainland. The system is in the final stages of operation and should be up and running by the handover.
Q. Will Hong Kong still retain its own independent quotas for textiles, e.g. for export to the US?
A. Although the Basic Law says that Hong Kong will negotiate its own trade treaties and quotas, and that any quota agreement made with Hong Kong would continue to be valid after the handover, it all really depends on what side of bed Jesse Helms got out of recently, doesn't it?
Q. How many years in total has Hong Kong been a British territory?
A. As at midnight June 30,1997, exactly 156 years, 155 days and 11 hours.
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