Explain Features of constitution and major amendments of 1982 Constitution of China.

(1) Introduction

The Constitution of China is a changing document. The current Constitution was adopted in 1982. It has superseded the previous three constitutions of 1964, 1975 and 1978. It is the highest and ultimate source of legal norms in China. It establishes the framework and principles of government and describes fundamental rights and duties of the citizens. Some amendments have also been made into it since its creation.

(2) Features Of Constitution Of China

Followings are the features of Constitution of China:

  • (i) Written document
  • (ii) Enacted constitution
  • (iii) Nature
  • (iv) Basic principles
  • (v) Socialist state
  • (vi) Unitary system
  • (vii) Peoples’ Republic
  • (viii) Flexible constitution
  • (ix) Democratic centralism
  • (x) One party system
  • (xi) Unicameral
  • (xii) Fundamental rights & duties
  • (xiii) Public interests
  • (xiv) Protection from discrimination & exploitation
  • (xv) Central Military Commission
  • (xvi) Judiciary

(i) Written Document

It is a written document. In fact, it is a brief document. It has a preamble, 138 articles and four chapters.

(ii) Enacted Constitution

It is an enacted constitution:

  • (a) Preamble
  • (b) Chapter I
  • (c) Chapter II
  • (d) Chapter III
  • (e) Chapter IV

(a) Preamble

Its preamble describes the political and constitutional history of China, the role of Chinese Communist Party, and the future goals of the country.

(b) Chapter I

It narrates general principles on which the new constitutional system is based.

(e) Chapter II

It describes fundamental rights and duties of the nationals of China.

(d) Chapter III

It explains the structure of the state:

  • (d-i) Central, provisional & local governments
  • (d-ii) Highest institution

(d-i) Central, Provisional & Local Governments.

It provides for central, provisional and local governments.

(d-ii) Highest Institution

It proclaims the National People’s Congress as the highest institution of state power.

(e) Chapter IV

It is about national flag, national emblem and national capital.

(iii) Nature

Constitution of China is partially parliamentary and partially presidential. And it is also partially based on dictatorship and partially based on democracy:

  • (a) Parliamentary
  • (b) Presidential
  • (c) Dictatorship
  • (d) Democracy

(a) Parliamentary

It is parliamentary in nature as National Peoples’ Congress is an elected legislature, and Prime Minister head the State Council.

(b) Presidential

It is presidential in nature as the Republic is headed by the President.

(c) Dictatorship

The State Council works under the direction of the Communist Party of China. It reveals that the Constitution is based on dictatorship.

(d) Democracy

Prime Minister cannot hold the office for more than two terms and the State Council is responsible to the elected legislature. It shows the democratic nature of the Constitution.

(iv) Basic Principles

It is based on four principles. These principles included adherence to socialism, people’s democratic dictatorship, leadership of the communist party and leadership by Marxism, Leninism and Maoist school of thought.

(v) Socialist State

It declares China a socialist state:

  • (a) Democratic dictatorship of peoples
  • (b) Working class

(a) Democratic Dictatorship Of Peoples

This socialist state is under democratic dictatorship of peoples.

(b) Working Class

This is led by a working class, and this working class is based on an alliance of workers and farmers.

(vi) Unitary System

The Constitution has established a unitary system in China:

  • (a) Union
  • (b) Powers

(a) Union

China is a union. In its unitary system, there is a Centre, provinces and municipalities.

(b) Powers

The Centre is very strong as it gives powers to the provinces and municipalities and can take back any of these powers from the provinces and municipalities any time.

(vii) Peoples’ Republic

It has made China a Peoples Republic. The power belong to the people of China. However, National People Congress exercises the powers.

(viii) Flexible Constitution

The Constitution is flexible. There is only one house of the Chinese Legislature. Therefore, passing of any amendment in the constitution and passing of any law is very easy.

(ix) Democratic Centralism

It has declared China a democratic state. The legislature is to run the country:

  • (a) Elections of Legislature
  • (b) Responsible Legislature
  • (c) Election of President

(a) Elections Of Legislature

Chinese Legislature is directly elected by the people.

(b) Responsible Legislature

The Legislature is responsible to the people.

(c) Election Of President

The Legislature votes to elect a President.

(x) One Party System

It has introduced one party system in China:

(a) Chinese Communist Party

(b) Eight small parties

(a) Chinese Party

Chinese Communist Party runs the country. This party is based on ideology if Marx and Lenin. This party is though supreme in China in practice, yet the Constitution does not provide for its supremacy.

(b) Eight Small Parties

There are also eight other small parties, which make political fronts against Chinese Communist Party.

(xi) Unicameral Legislature

It has established a unicameral legislature in China. The Chinese Legislature consists of only one House that is called National People’s Congress:

  • (a) Supreme institution
  • (b) Membership
  • (c) Tenure
  • (d) Elections of members

(a) Supreme Institution

National People’s Congress is the supreme institution of the country

(b) Membership

Total members of the current National People’s Congress are 2980.

(c) Tenure

Every National People’s Congress is elected for five years.

(d) Elections Of Members

The members of National People’s Congress are elected directly by the people.

(xii) Fundamental Rights & Duties

The Chinese Constitution provides some fundamental rights to the nationals of China and in return demands duties for them:

  • (a) Fundamental rights
  • (b) Fundamental duties

(a) Fundamental Rights

Some fundamental rights are right to vote, freedom to vote any candidate, freedom to choose any religion, and right to speech, press, assembly, association, procession, demonstration, work, and rest.

(b) Fundamental Duties

Some fundamental duties are tax paying, performance of military service and joining of militia according to law, obedience of law, defense of motherland China, and protection of the unity of the country.

(xiii) Public Interests

The Constitution is the guardian of public interests.

(xiv) Protection From Discrimination & Exploitation

The Constitution provides protection against discrimination and exploitation:

  • (a) Equality
  • (b) Unconstitutional
  • (c) Prohibition

(a) Equality

All the citizens are equal.

(a) Unconstitutional

Discrimination and exploitation of the people on any basis is unconstitutional.

(b) Prohibition

Exploitation of any man by men or by state is prohibited.

(xv) Central Military Commission

The Constitution has established a Central Military Commission:

  • (a) Membership
  • (b) Tenure
  • (c) Function
  • (d) Accountable

(a) Membership

It consists of a chairman, vice-chairman and some members. Its members are elected by the National People’s Congress or by the Standing Committee of National Peoples’ Congress when the National People’s Congress is not in session.

(b) Tenure

Its tenure is linked with the term of the National People’s Congress.

(c) Function

Its function is to direct and control the-armed forces of the country.

(d) Accountable

It is accountable to the National People’s Congress or it Standing Committee.

(xvi) Judiciary

Constitution has settled that judiciary is to guard the socialist order:

  • (a) People’s revolutionary struggle
  • (b) Limitations

(a) People’s Revolutionary Struggle

Judiciary is to work for the people’s revolutionary struggle.

(b) Limitations

There are some limitations on the powers and jurisdiction of judiciary:

  • (b-i) Rights of citizens
  • (b-ii) Legislation

(b-i) Rights Of Citizens

It cannot act as protector of rights citizens particularly when the rights clashes with policies and actions of the government.

(b-ii) Legislation

It cannot challenge or strike down the laws that the Chinese Legislature makes.

(3) Major Amendments In Constitution Of China

The Constitution of China has been amended five times after it has been adopted in 1982:

  • (i) 1988 amendment
  • (ii) 1993 amendment
  • (iii) 1999 amendment
  • (iv) 2004 amendment
  • (v) 2018 amendment

(i) 1988 Amendment

In 1988, 7th National People’s Congress made the First Constitutional Amendment:

  • (a) Articles 10 & 11
  • (b) Private sector
  • (c) Transfer of land-use rights

(a) Articles 10 & 11

Articles 10 and 11 were amended through this first amendment.

(b) Private Sector

This First Amendment not only allowed emergence of private sector, but also affirmed the legal status of private sector. In this way, this amendment provided a way for the development of private economy.

(c) Transfer Of Land-Use Rights

This First Amendment allowed the transfer of land-use rights. In fact, this amendment provided a constitutional basis for the commercial transfer of land-use rights.

(ii) 1993 Amendment

In 1993, 8th National People’s Congress made the Second Constitutional Amendment:

  • (a) Seventh & tenth paragraphs of Preamble
  • (b) Seven articles

(a) Seventh & Tenth Paragraphs Of Preamble

This Second Amendment has made some amendments in the seventh and tenth paragraphs of the Preamble of the Constitution. The most important amendment was “China is at the primary stage of socialism”.

(b) Seven Articles

This Second Amendment has amended seven articles. Followings were the most important amendments:

  • (b-i) State-owned economy
  • (b-ii) Responsibility system
  • (b-iii) Socialist market economy
  • (b-iv) State-owned enterprises
  • (b-v) Division of cities
  • (b-vi) Term of people’s congresses of cities & counties

(b-i) State-Owned Economy

The Second Amendment introduced state-owned economy as the socialist economy.

(b-ii) Responsibility System

It introduced the responsibility system, the main form of which is household contract that links remuneration to output.

(b-iii) Socialist Market Economy

According to it, the state practices socialist market economy.

(b-iv) State-Owned Enterprises

It ended the concept of state enterprises and introduced the concept of state-owned enterprises.

(b-v) Division Of Cities

Earlier cities were divided into two groups; cities divided into districts and cities not divided into districts. It ended this division.

(b-vi) Term Of People’s Congresses Of Cities & Counties

Term of the people’s congresses of cities and counties is five years.

(iii) 1999 Amendment

In 1999, 9th National People’s Congress made the Third Constitutional Amendment:

  • (a) Seventh paragraph of Preamble
  • (b) Five articles

(a) Seventh Paragraph Of Preamble

Amendment in seventh paragraph of the Preamble has revealed that China will be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come..

(b) Five Articles

Third Amendment has amended five articles. Followings were the most important amendments:

  • (b-i) Rule of law
  • (b-ii) Basie economic system
  • (b-iii) Distribution system
  • (b-iv) Dual operation system
  • (b-v) Non-public sectors of economy
  • (b-vi) Treasonable & other criminal activities

(b-i) Rule Of Law

This Third Amendment has made China a socialist country under rule of law.

(b-ii) Basic Economic System

According to it, the state upholds the ba: ic economic system in which the public ownership is dominant and diverse forms of ownership develop side by side.

(b-iii) Distribution System

According to it, the state follows the distribution system in which distribution according to work is dominant and diverse modes of distribution coexist.

(b-iv) Dual Operation System

It introduced a dual operation system. This system was to replace responsibility system and was to be applied by rural collective economic organization.

(b-v) Non-Public Sectors Of Economy

It has mentioned individual and private sectors of the economy as non-public sectors of the economy and has declared the non-public sectors of the economy as an important component of the socialist market economy.

(b-vi) Treasonable & Other Criminal Activities

According to it, the state is to suppress treasonable and other criminal activities that endanger State security.

(iv) 2004 Amendment

In 2004, 10th National People’s Congress made the Fourth Constitutional Amendment:

  • (a) Seventh & tenth paragraphs of Preamble
  • (b) Twelve articles & Fourth Chapter

(a) Seventh & Tenth Paragraphs Of Preamble

Some changes were made in the seventh and tenth paragraphs of the Preamble. The most important change is that it has introduced a new term regarding socialism, and this term is Chinese-style socialism.

(b) Twelve Articles & Fourth Chapter

This Fourth Amendment has amended twelve articles and title of the Fourth Chapter. Followings are most important amendments:

  • (b-i) Private property
  • (b-ii) Human rights.
  • (b-iii) Title of Fourth Chapter

(b-i) Private Property

It has declared that legally obtained private property of the citizens shall not be In this way, it provides guarantee for private property.

(b-ii) Human Rights

It has also declared that the state protects and respects the human rights of the citizens.

(b-iii) Title Of Fourth Chapter

It has added the term “National Anthem” in the title of the Fourth Chapter of the Constitution.

(v) 2018 Amendment

In 2018, 13th National People’s Congress made the Fifth Constitutional Amendment:

  • (a) Communist Party
  • (b) National Supervisory Commission
  • (c) Xi Jinping’s thought
  • (d) Terms of offices of President & Vice President

(a) Communist Party

This Fifth Amendment has cemented the control and supremacy of the Communist Party of China.

(b) National Supervisory Commission

It has established a National Supervisory Commission.

(c) Xi Jinping’s Thought

It has added Xi Jinping’s thought to the Preamble of the Constitution.

(d) Terms Of Offices Of President & Vice President

It has and removed term limits for the offices of both the President and Vice President. In this way, it has enabled Xi Jinping to remain president indefinitely.

(4) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that no constitution can be made for all time. A living constitution must be modeled and shaped through a lengthy process of trial and errors and must be enriched by experiences and experiments to conform to the actual needs of the nation. For China has been amending its Constitution since its creation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

B i l a l - T a h i r