Special Administrative Region
Special Administrative Regions (SAR's) are statuses created by the government of China to deal with the return of Hong Kong and Macau to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and 1999 respectively. The two SAR's are governed by Basic Laws which spell out the system of government in each territory and the powers of those governments. Essentially, the SAR governments are responsible for everything locally except matters relating to defence and foreign affairs.
The media are free, but there are no real elections and all political power is held by appointees of the Communist government in Beijing.
SAR's have their own legal systems, immigration and customs controls and currencies. In fact, they are almost like separate countries in this respect. The two SAR's also issue their own passports to Chinese citizens who are Permanent Residents of their respective SAR's. While these passports are still Chinese Citizen passports, their holders are generally given much more favorable immigration treatment abroad than holders of Chinese passports issued by the Mainland authorities