China As A Champion of An Illiberal Rule of Law

As part of its ‘reform and opening up policy’ initiated in 1978, the PRC started building a new legal system, modelled to a great extent after Western examples. In 1982, it adopted a new constitution, which has remained mostly the same with some amendments. While alternating between the creation of a true ‘rule of law’ or a ‘rule by law’, under Xi Jinping’s leadership China seems to be heading towards the latter, as the Chinese Communist Party is reasserting its monopoly on power and its ambition to create a ‘Socialist Rule of Law with Chinese characteristics’ in line with, at most, very thin notions of rule of law. The CCP exists in a parallel legal system while retaining control over crucial parts of that of the PRC. The prospects for a strong constitutionalist system seem bleak at this moment, while the populist moment in the rest of the world has strengthened the Chinese leadership’s confidence in the superiority of its system, even if it is still struggling to define it.