Connecting the Past and the Future: Constitutional Identity in Transitional China

The constitutional identity of China is much more complex than socialism, collectiveness, or authoritarianism. Since the late 19th century, the reconstruction of political, economic and cultural systems has often exhibited conflicts between western theories and decaying Chinese traditions. From a historical perspective, we can reach the conclusion that multi-culturalism is the core social background of the Chinese constitution. First, the paper will study on the conception of constitution which came from western countries. Second, it is meaningful to study the roles of China’s legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. The following questions shall be answered: (a) can Chinese people be united with consensus on constitutional identity? (b) how and to what extent, “Chinese character” is defined in the matter of constitutional identity? (c) can “harmony” bring new elements to constitutional identity? (d) will the fourth industrial revolution change the constitutional identity?

The Obedience and Disobedience of the Local Governments under the Central Control

To achieve the aim of “building the rule of law in a socialist country”, local governments play a crucial role. In practice, local governments take the main responsibility to implement the law. At the same time, local governments face some practical problems because of the dual role of local governments in the structure of governmental regulation. The goal of “building the rule of law” requires the rule of law in the whole country, including the lower governments. To this end, it is necessary to attach the importance to the unique function of the local governments, and shape the local institutional autonomy so that they may participate in this process. As a normative study on the system of the Chinese Constitution, the paper will illustrate the meaning of “central unified leadership” and then suggest that at the local level, institutional incentives should be provided for the local initiatives.

The Relationship between the Central and Local Governments: from the Legislative Perspective

In China, the local governments are empowered to make local legislation in accordance with national laws. Local legislation then, to an extent became a powerful tool in the economic competition between local governments within China. On the one hand, to stimulate innovation and economic development, the central government allows the expansion of local legislation and encourages local governments to solve problems actively with local laws. On the other hand, the central government shows a degree of distrust on local governments and thus sets strict restrictions on local legislative authority. In addition, the record and review mechanism by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress could also be treated as the pressure on local laws because the standards are vague so far and some local laws may be overruled in this course. Local legislatures are confronted with the predicament to follow the central instructions, avoid the repetition, and satisfy local democratic demands.

“Full Coverage” Record and Review System: a Study on the 2nd Annual Report of the NPCSC’s Record and Review Mechanism

To meet the requirements by the Nineteenth National People’s Congress, its Standing Committee discussed and voted on the report of the Legislative Affairs Commission on the record and review work annually. This practice has emerged as a “routine” system. The annual reports are not only to describe what has been done in the past, but also to express future-oriented ideas on “strengthening the record and review system”. The 1st annual report, highlighting “icebreaking feedback on review suggestions”, described how the mechanism comes into the public sight. The second one presented a more comprehensive and systematic roadmap of the development of the record and review system, “including all normative documents into the scope of record and review”. “Full coverage”, “systematization” and “the leadership of the NPC” are the three keywords for the 2nd report and the clues to expand the review in the lower congresses.