China’s Constitutionalism

  • Lison Harris


China’s extensive legal reforms are often assessed according to its progress toward a liberal democracy, although it has made clear that its intentions lie elsewhere. In the same way, the role of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China is assessed according to Western theories of constitutionalism, sometimes resulting in the conclusion that China has no true legal system. The constitution is nonetheless a vital element of the reform process, as the Chinese Communist Party’s broad power of leadership or government over state institutions is set out in its preamble. The constitution is both the symbol of and the legal justification for the power of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over government policies in China and is a vital component of the CCP’s strategy for survival—the “life and death” of the party.2 Although the CCP exerts broad ideological control over state policy making and decision making, the growth of the market economy has allowed, or forced, the party to withdraw from the day-to-day affairs of state and to concentrate on consolidating its ideological influence. The constitution defines and legitimizes this ideological framework.


Communist Party Chinese Communist Party Liberal Democracy Judicial Review National People 
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Copyright information

© Hualing Fu, Lison Harris, and Simon N. M. Young, eds. 2007

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  • Lison Harris

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