How “Constitutionalism” Withers: Explaining the Changing Discourse of Constitutionalism in Chinese Constitutional Scholarship (1982-2020)

Constitutional law knowledge in China has suffered aberrance recently: the extent of studies narrowing, normative awareness weakening, the core concept of constitutionalism replaced, and constitutional professionalism losing. This paper asks how and why these changes have occurred. By adopting the power-knowledge approach, we examine the discipline of political power on constitutional scholarship and the constitutional discourse produced thereby. After the founding of the 1982 Constitution, the reformer wing of power brought out immature but true discourse towards constitutionalism. During marketization, the professionalized but isolated constitutional scholarship produced the normative constitutional discourse as the single storm within the teacup. The New Era significantly sees a de-normalizing counterfeit Xian’zhi pursued. The explanation offered in this paper also helps us comprehend how constitutional faith can be defended or destroyed in transitional societies.