The Rule of Law Index is an internationally respected ranking of how countries around the world apply laws. This year the World Justice Project’s annual report was published in February. Here we compare China and Hong Kong, which have separate legal systems

The rule of law: Hong Kong vs ChinaHow far apart are the two systems in how they apply the rule of law?


Hong Kong prides itself on how it exercises the rule of law, guaranteeing that everybody, regardless of race, rank, politics or religion, is equally subject to the laws of the land. The law requires that the courts be independent of the government's executive bodies. Discussion of the rule of law is not new to Hong Kong but the government’s attempt to pass a new extradition bill, which would have ultimately allowed the extradition of fugitives to mainland China and Taiwan, has caused fresh anxiety and sparked mass protests.

The index analyses how the internal policies of 126 states or territories affect the administration of the rule of law. For example, do people have fair access to lawyers and the courts, do the authorities commit acts of corruption and are crimes effectively policed? The rule of law is measured from the perspective of individuals facing prosecution. The scores are based on surveys and opinions of local legal experts.

The gap between two systems

The adherence to the rule of law is analysed according to eight factors, divided into 44 subcategories.

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Global overview of four key factors

Constraints on Government Powers
A measure of to what extent those who govern are bound by law. It includes constitutional and institutional means, by which the powers and government officials are limited and accountable to the law. It also includes non-governmental controls over government power.

Absence of Corruption
Three forms of corruption are taken into account: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.

Open Government
This factor quantifies the transparency of a government, i.e., the degree to which the authorities share information with citizens. This empowers people with tools to hold the government accountable and promotes citizen participation in public affairs.

Fundamental Rights
The WJP believes that a system of law that fails to respect core human rights established under international law cannot be called a rule of law system and is at best “rule by law”.

Top 20 evolution

The top of the table has been dominated by European nations for the past five years. Only four Asian countries or territories make the list. (Hover to explore)

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