|Abstract as per original application
Since the constitutional movement of the late Qing dynasty, the quest for constitutionalism had been an important theme in modern Chinese political and legal developments. There were three eras of constitution-making: the last decade of the Qing (1901-11), the republican era (1911-1949), and the communist era (1949-). Dr Sun Yat-sen, founding father of the Republic of China (RoC), developed a three-stage theory of the Chinese republic’s political development: military rule, 'political tutelage' and 'constitutionalism' (xianzheng, alternatively translated as 'constitutional governance'). Although China in theory entered the third stage when a new RoC Constitution was enacted in 1946, this Constitution became largely suspended as the RoC regime moved to Taiwan and introduced martial law upon its defeat in the Chinese Civil War. The establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 inaugurated a new era of constitution-making under the Soviet Union’s influence. The ‘Western’ or ‘bourgeois’ idea of constitutionalism was however rejected, despite the making of several Constitutions of the PRC since 1954. Under the Xi Jingping regime, the very discourse of ‘constitutionalism’ (xianzheng) has been suppressed, even though the concept of ‘ruling the country according to law’ (which was constitutionalized in 1999) has been re-affirmed.
Despite setbacks in the project of constitutionalism in mainland China, Taiwan has since the 1990s realized the constitutionalism that was promised by the 1946 Constitution. At the same time, constitutional governance has also been practiced in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau under the ‘One Country Two Systems’ framework in accordance with their Basic Laws. The experience of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau in constitutional governance and the practice of constitutionalism in a Chinese society may serve as a valuable resource for mainland China to draw on should it pursue political and constitutional reforms at some point in the future.
This project seeks to describe, analyze, explain and compare the institutions and dynamics of constitutional governance and the practice of constitutionalism in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, and explore their implications for the possible development of constitutionalism in mainland China. It also reviews the constitutional history of China since the late Qing attempt at constitutional reform, and examines the current practice and discourse of the Rule of Law and public law in mainland China, for the purpose of exploring the possibilities of constitutional reform in the future.