The constitution of China: what purpose does it (not) serve?

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It is widely accepted that constitutions serve several important purposes in the Western as well as non-Western traditions. In this article, I propose that constitutions ought to serve at least the following six ‘core’ purposes: signify a break from the past, organize political power, provide legitimacy to the legal system, empower people, limit the power of government organs, and work as a unifying force for diverse interests and groups. Against this background, this article seeks to ask and answer the following question: does the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) serve these core purposes? Although the PRC Constitution resembles – at least in appearance – Western liberal constitutions in many respects, it is really doubtful if it serves many of these core purposes. This is not to suggest, however, that the PRC Constitution is devoid of any real value. It does serve some other ‘secondary’ purposes within the current Chinese legal framework. This article will try to shed some light on what those purposes are and whether they mean anything to people outside China interested in the study of constitutionalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-77
Number of pages23
JournalJindal Global Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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