Translations of constitutional codifications in Republican China

This paper explores the various efforts to translate foreign constitutions in Republican China, from the proclamation of the Republic in 1912 up to the Provisional Constitution of 1931. The Republic’s translation activity expanded the translation enterprise undertaken in the late Qing Empire, translating constitutional texts from most parts of the world. Although many of these translations were mediated through European or North American publications, they show the global outlook of Chinese constitutionalists. The translations also demonstrate the shifting international referents used for China’s own constitution-making projects. The unfavourable outcome of the Versailles Treaty for China, led to a disillusionment with the West, and a renewed interest for the Russian/Soviet and German constitutional experiences. Against this background, the Weimar Constitution emerged as a reference for constitutionalists who did not want to associate either with communism or with Western liberalism.