The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge under construction [File Photo: Xinhua]
Recent weeks have seen major milestones in the project linking Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai, with the longest sea crossing due to open later this year.
But the bridge highlights the need for a closer connection in other fields too, such as economic policy and cross-border legal affairs.
A group of legal professionals from the mainland has been working in Hong Kong to build a bridge of legal communication with the Special Administrative Region.
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Zhuang Zhongxi studied law in the Chinese mainland.
He has extensive legal experience and once served as a judge at a provincial high court.
In 1993, he began to work in the Hong Kong-based China Legal Service Ltd, which was affiliated to the Chinese Ministry of Justice.
The company's responsibilities include increasing understanding of the two different legal systems by people on both sides, helping to organize bilateral exchanges between lawyers.
But to Zhuang Zhongxi, who now heads the delivery office of the company, the most important task for his team is to review notarization documents concerning cross-border activities, in such areas as marriage, wealth succession and business activities.
He says that's because the laws in Hong Kong and the mainland are based on different legal systems, namely the common law and the continental law.
"Notarization in the area of common law is mainly based on formal notarization, which is a statement of notarization and it does not require investigation. But, in the area of continental law, we call it entity proof. It must meet two basic criteria – authenticity and legality. So, we require our clients in Hong Kong to present their legal documents based on investigated facts in line with the common law. We also require them to present the documents in a written format acceptable to the mainland. In this way, we help bridge the legal and business gaps."
In the past few years, Zhuang's office has enjoyed brisk business, with the submission of some 350 documents.
As the notarization process can only be conducted by law professionals in Hong Kong, training is essential to equip them with the relevant knowledge concerning both Hong Kong and mainland.
Zhuang says among the 10,000 registered lawyers in Hong Kong, about 400 have been trained by his firm as entrusted notaries.
They include Elsie Leung, the first justice sectary of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and Gregory So, the incumbent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development.
Zhuang believes that in order to deepen communication between the mainland and Hong Kong, his company has been active in organizing Hong Kong law professionals to visit the Chinese mainland to enhance their understanding of the legal structure there.
"We are the window of the ministry of justice, we bring together two law bodies – the Hong Kong Bar Association and the law society of Hong Kong – we encouraged them go to the Chinese mainland to communicate with domestic groups and legal institutions in various ways. The bar association is very active and willing to go to the mainland. Only by communicating, can people understand each other's ideas.
In addition, Zhuang's office has also invited mainland law professionals to Hong Kong for lectures. He says understanding between the two sides can only be achieved by considering specific cases and specific laws.
For CRI, I'm Guo Yan.