Question5 Examine the process of constitutional development in China

Examine the process of constitutional development in China

Dynastic China adopted a constitutional system oscillating between a feudal distribution of power and a centralistic autocracy. The idea of a constitutional monarchy, and a written constitution, became influential towards the end of the 19th century, inspired immediately in large parts by the precedent of the Meiji Constitution in Japan. The first attempt towards constitutionalism was during the Hundred Days' Reform (1898), but a coup by conservative monarchists loyal to Empress Dowager Cixi ended this effort. The same faction, however, eventually adopted a policy of transitioning towards constitutionalism. However, the first constitutional document was only published in 1908, and the first constitutional document with legal force (the "Nineteen Covenants") was not implemented until 1911, after the eruption of the Xinhai Revolution, which led to the demise of the Qing empire the next year. The Republic of China established in 1912 was governed by a series of constitutional documents. Most of these, especially those authored by the Kuomintang, purported to reflect Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People and Western norms.[1] The first formal Constitution was enacted in 1946, when the Kuomintang-controlled government hastily declared an end to the "political tutelage" stage of Sun Yat-sen's three-stage theory of constitutional government amidst internal and external pressures. The Republic of China government progressively lost control of mainland China in the late 1940s to early 1950s, but the Constitution of the Republic of China, with amendments, is still the organic law of the government in Taiwan.

In 1949, the Chinese Civil War was turning decisively in favour of the Communist Party of China. In June, the Communist Party organised a "Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference" (CPPCC) to prepare for the establishment of a "New Democracy" regime to replace the Kuomintang-dominated Republic of China government.

The first meeting of the CPPCC opened on 21 September 1949, and was attended by the Communist Party along with eight aligned parties. The first CPPCC served in effect as a Constitutional Convention. The meeting approved the Common Program, which was effectively an interim Constitution, specifying the structure of the new government, and determining the name and symbols of the new state.[2] It also elected leaders of the new central government, including Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Central People's Government. After the end of the conference, the People's Republic of China was proclaimed on 1 October 1949.

The People's Republic of China functioned for the next five years under the Common Program, with a degree of democracy and inclusion that was not seen again in Chinese government to the present day. Among the provisions of the Common Program were those guaranteeing protection of private property (Article 3), "uniting" the bourgeoisie (Article 13), and assisting private enterprise (Article 30). The first People's Government, elected in 1949, included a significant number of representatives from parties other than the Communist Party.

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