China’s Constitutional Review Mechanism and the Distribution of Legislative Powers between the Central and Local Governments

In China, there is no constitutional court or independent constitutional council. Common courts cannot apply the Constitution when deciding cases. The constitutional review mechanism is incorporated in the legislative process, prior to legislation and in a record & review system. Hence, the authority and degree of constitutional review are influenced by the distribution of legislative powers between the central and local governments. In order to stimulate innovation and economic development, the central government allows the expansion of local legislation and encourages local governments to solve problems with local laws. In the meantime, the central government distrusts local governments and sets constitutional restrictions on local legislative authority. Local legislatures are struggling in complying with constitutional requirements, avoiding the repetition, and satisfying local demands.