Macau and Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China enjoy, via a complex web of constituent legal instruments (international treaties, norms of the PRC Constitution and, last but not the least, the Basic Laws), a remarkable high level of autonomy – namely in key areas such as fundamental rights, the continuation and evolution of a distinct legal system, including an almost universal range of legislative power stricto sensu, an independent judicial system, the economic and financial dimensions, including taxation, and also, at least to some extent, in the spheres of political organization based on elements of separation of powers doctrines and openness to pluralism, and an international law capacity - which provides the condition for the existence and ongoing evolution of subnational constitutionalism.
The extent, scope and nature of these two imaginative and pragmatic autonomy arrangements clearly show that they do not fit in any classical model, whether federal or of territorial autonomy. Its results, albeit imperfect, are deemed positive so far. Hence, can these exceptional cases present themselves as a model, even if tailored in origin, in the research and consecration of subnational constitutionalism in other geopolitical arenas?
The Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau serve basically as subnational constitutions, which lay down the foundation for continuing development of subnational constitutionalism. The sovereign constitutional norms are the same and the Basic Laws – such as the Joint Declarations - are essentially identical; that is, the normative superstructure has a high degree of similarity. However, the dynamics of constitutionalism show certain divergences that appeared in the two regions with a first decade of evolutionary praxis pointing to somehow different avenues that may, by the end of the day (2047 and 2049, respectively), result in different SARS profiles and different sedimentation of the autonomic traits of Macau and of Hong Kong
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