In modern constitutionalism literature, local autonomy has been considered as a positive result of political civilization. Being an intrastate institutional arrangement, local autonomy in different countries embodies great creativity, diversity, and vitality and has played an important role in achieving good governance under the rule of law.
Local autonomy, as a component of national political system, is “a mechanism or device to allow local people, ethnic or other groups claiming a distinct identity to exercise direct control at their own will over affairs of special concern to them” (Ghai 2000, p. 8). In this sense, local autonomy is a kind of self-governance and rule-based arrangement. From the constitutional and political perspective, it has some special meanings. First of all, it involves a vertical division of public powers and the central-local relationship of a given state, namely being the concept and exercise of sovereignty, the administrative powers, and respective responsibilities. Secondly, local autonomy reflects political pluralism and the coexistence and conflict of overall national interests and local partial interests. Thirdly, it is closely linked to the political development trend towards decentralization and democracy. In the economic dimension, local autonomy deals with the transfer of authority and responsibility for public functions from the central government to lower, subordinate, or quasi-independent government organizations or the private sector. From the cultural point of view, local autonomy is related to identity cognition, localism, diversification, and so forth.
KeywordsLocal Government Special Economic Zone Fiscal Decentralization Special Administrative Region Local Autonomy
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