Situated at the south-eastern tip of China, Hong Kong has a territory size of only 1104 square kilometres but there are 6.98 million people living in it. The vast majority of the population is of Chinese descent, with foreign nationals comprising 5 per cent of the population. The official languages are Chinese and English. People are now expected to be able to speak English, Cantonese (a local dialect) and Putonghua (the official Chinese language). Hong Kong people enjoy freedom of religion and varieties of religion including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism are practised in the territory. Confucianism also has an important influence on the local culture.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (PRC) following 150 years of British colonial rule, from 1842 to 1997. Free trade, low taxation and minimum government intervention are the main characteristics of Hong Kong's economy. With the mainland of China as its most significant trading partner, Hong Kong is the world's 12th largest trading economy. Hong Kong maintains strong links to mainland China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region through its service economy.
In studying the law and legal institutions in Hong Kong, a central theme that emerges is how a common law legal system was established, is maintained and will develop in a non-Western or Chinese society.
As Sir Anthony Mason said, the common law may mean many things.