Principal officials (Chinese: 主要官員), according to the Basic Law, are government officials who are nominated by the Chief Executive and appointed by the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. They include secretaries of departments and secretaries of policy bureaux. Five other officials are also principal officials because of the importance of their positions (although three of them report to the secretaries and permanent secretaries of policy bureaux).
They are required to be citizens of the People's Republic of China who are permanent residents of Hong Kong with no right of abode in any foreign country who have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 15 years.
When assuming office, they must, in accordance with law, swear to uphold the Basic Law and swear their allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
Since the introduction of the Principal Officials Accountability System on 1 July 2002 (and since 2008 Political Appointments System), secretaries of departments and secretaries of bureaux (but not the other five officials) are political appointees. Before that all principal officials were civil servants. The civil servants who held the positions of secretaries of bureaux have their titles changed to permanent secretaries, and are no longer principal officials.
- Secretaries of departments
- Directors of Bureaux
- Secretary for the Civil Service (Patrick Nip)
- Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs (Erick Tsang)
- Secretary for Education (Kevin Yeung)
- Secretary for the Environment (Wong Kam-sing)
- Secretary for Food and Health (Sophia Chan)
- Secretary for Transport and Housing (Frank Chan)
- Secretary for Home Affairs (Caspar Tsui)
- Secretary for Labour and Welfare (Law Chi-kwong)
- Secretary for Security (John Lee Ka-chiu)