Chinese Discourse on Constitutionalism and Its Impact on Reforms

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Journal of Chinese Political Science

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The concept of constitutionalism (xianzheng) appeared in China in the late Qing dynasty as a banner of the political reform. It was banned during the Mao era but reappeared when the reform-oriented leaders revised the constitution in 1982. Since the 1990s, it has become a key term used in the liberal discourse. This paper addresses the following research questions: What is the current debate on constitutionalism? Why is the Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping so resistant towards constitutionalism? What are the prospects of constitutionalism in China? What are the impacts of intellectual discourse on constitutionalism for China and how will it contribute to China's political transformation in the twenty-first century?