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The Politics of Constitutional Reform in China: Rule of Law as Condition or as Substitute for Democracy?

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Abstract

In the People's Republic of China (PRC), dynamic policy evolution and related socioeconomic changes strikingly contrast with the absence of any democratic transition similar to those most communist countries have undergone during the last two decades. Nevertheless, policy reforms of the Chinese government entail a number of important administrative and legal developments, among them a series of amendments to the Constitution. This contribution analyses whether and how constitutional reforms are to be interpreted as part of the PRC's modernisation process. It is shown that the constitutional changes so far have not departed from a traditional communist approach but have been used to legitimise fundamental policy changes initiated by the Chinese Communist Party. At the same time, however, this accommodation of the fundamental law triggered a genuine constitutionalisation process that has been subject to severe limitations, while also signalling important changes in political culture and imposing significant tensions on the whole political system. Therefore, recent constitutional developments in China go far beyond the mere window-dressing that is frequently associated with legal practices in communist regimes.
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hal-02401844 , version 1 (10-12-2019)

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Lihua Yang, Richard Balme. The Politics of Constitutional Reform in China: Rule of Law as Condition or as Substitute for Democracy?. Perry Keller. The Citizen and the Chinese State ( Library of Essays on Chinese Law), Ashgate Publishing, 2011, 9780754628637. ⟨hal-02401844⟩
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