Towards an Analytical Framework of Constitutionalism in East Asia

Recent years have witnessed the reemergence of discussions on Confucian constitutionalism, communitarian constitutionalism, or Asian values. Despite the differences of these concepts, all reject Western liberal constitutionalism, emphasizing that Asian countries should prioritize social and economic rights over civil and political rights. Nevertheless, this dichotomy in fact does not hold in Taiwan and many other East Asian jurisdictions. This chapter suggests that, on the one hand, constitutionalism in East Asia is inevitably a blend of liberal constitutionalism and Confucian constitutionalism. Namely, in East Asia, the differences between democracies and dictatorships in this regard is often a matter of degree, not of kind. On the other hand, human rights are better protected in Taiwan than in most other Asian countries because the progress of human rights takes place concomitantly with the decline of Confucianism.