International Law Division
Department of Justice


Article 13 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Central People's Government is responsible for foreign affairs relating to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) but it authorises the Hong Kong SAR to conduct the relevant external affairs in accordance with the Basic Law. The handling of external affairs of the Hong Kong SAR is elaborated upon in other Basic Law provisions in various chapters, in particular, Chapter VII "External Affairs".

In Chapter VII, Article 151 of the Basic Law provides that the Hong Kong SAR, using the name "Hong Kong, China" may maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements on its own, with foreign states and regions and international organisations, in such matters as economic affairs, trade, finance and monetary affairs, shipping, communications, tourism, culture and sports. Under Article 152(2), the Hong Kong SAR may, using the name "Hong Kong, China", participate in international organisations and conferences not limited to states.

Article 152 of the Basic Law also provides for representatives of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR to participate in international organisations or conferences in appropriate fields limited to states and affecting the Region as members of delegations of the People's Republic of China, or in other appropriate capacity. The Central People's Government shall take the necessary steps to ensure that the Hong Kong SAR shall continue to retain its status in appropriate capacity in those international organisations of which China is a member and in which the Hong Kong SAR participates in one capacity or another.

There are other provisions of the Basic Law, apart from those referred to above, that have a bearing on the HKSAR's external affairs. For example, Article 116 confirms the HKSAR's status as a separate customs territory, and provides for its participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organisation) and other international trade agreements. Article 96 provides for the HKSAR to make arrangements with foreign states for cooperation in legal and judicial matters. Article 133 deals with the negotiation and conclusion of air services agreements.

The International Law Division of the Department of Justice plays an important role in relation to Hong Kong's involvement in these matters. Please refer to the following link for details of the work of the Division -

International Law Division