Jiang Shigong on "Written and Unwritten Constitutions" and Their Relevance to Chinese Constitutionalism

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Chinese constitutionalism is usually analyzed and found wanting in the West. The deficiencies of Chinese constitutionalism stem in part from its differences from the forms and sensibilities of governmental organization common in the West. But constitutionalism ought not to be reversed engineered to support a particular approach to its operationalization. This article considers the extent to which Chinese constitutionalism is both true to emerging global principles of constitutionalism and how those principles might be applied in a distinctly Chinese way while remaining true to the objectives of transnational constitutionalist principles. The constitutionally significant distinction at the root of the Chinese way of constitutionalism lies in its separation of powers doctrine, one that divides power between political and administrative functions and which does not vest the whole of the power of state in a government. The examination is undertaken through a close engagement with Jiang Shigong's study of the foundations of Chinese constitutionalism within the context of universalist principles of legitimate constitutional expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-132
Number of pages14
JournalModern China
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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