Constitution of the People's Republic of China

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Constitution of the
People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China 1978 Constitution.pdf
Cover of the 1978 constitution
Original title中华人民共和国宪法
Jurisdiction People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong and Macau)
Ratified December 4, 1982
Date effective December 4, 1982
System Unitary Marxist-Leninist
single-party socialist republic
Branches Six (Legislative, Executive, Military, Supervisory, Judicial, Procuratorial)
Head of state President
Chambers Unicameral (National People's Congress)
Owing to the NPC's large size and infrequent meetings, the De facto legislature is its Standing Committee
Executive Premier led State Council
Judiciary Supreme People's Court
Supreme People's Procuratorate
Federalism Unitary with special administrative regions
Electoral college Yes – the National People's Congress, which is elects all other state authorities, is itself elected by two layers of Indirect election: County and Township People's Congresses elect the members of Provincial People's Congresses, who in turn elect the NPC deputies.
First legislature September 21, 1949 (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference)
September 27, 1954 (National People's Congress)
First executive September 27, 1954 (Chairman)
October 1, 1949 (Premier)
First courtOctober 22, 1949
Amendments 5
Last amended 11 March 2018
Location Beijing
Commissioned by11th Communist Party Central Committee
Supersedes 1978 Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Constitution of the People's Republic of China
Traditional Chinese 中華人民共和國憲法
Simplified Chinese 中华人民共和国宪法
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (2).svg
This article is part of a series on the
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The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is nominally the supreme law within the People's Republic of China. The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982, with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2018. Three previous state constitutions—those of 1954, 1975, and 1978—were superseded in turn.

Constitution Set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed

A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity, and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The 5th National People's Congress was in session from 1978 to 1983. It succeeded the 4th National People's Congress. It held five plenary sessions in this period.


The Constitution is divided into five sections. They are the:

  1. Preamble
  2. General Principles (Chapter 1)
  3. The Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens (Chapter 2)
  4. The Structure of the State (Chapter 3) - which includes such state organs as the National People's Congress, the State Council, the Local People's Congress and Local People's Governments and the People's Courts and the People's Procuratorates
  5. The National Flag, the National Anthem, the National Emblem and the Capital (Chapter 4). [1]


The first Constitution of the People's Republic of China was declared in 1954. After two intervening versions enacted in 1975 and 1978, the current Constitution was declared in 1982. There were significant differences between each of these versions, and the 1982 Constitution has subsequently been amended five times. In addition, changing Constitutional conventions have led to significant changes in the structure of Chinese government in the absence of changes in the text of the Constitution.

1982 Constitution

The 1982 Constitution reflects Deng Xiaoping's determination to lay a lasting institutional foundation for domestic stability and modernization. The new State Constitution provides a legal basis for the broad changes in China's social and economic institutions and significantly revises government structure. The posts of President and Vice President (which were abolished in the 1975 and 1978 constitutions) are re-established in the 1982 Constitution.

Deng Xiaoping Chinese politician, Paramount leader of China

Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese politician who was the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1992. After Chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976, Deng led China through far-reaching market-economy reforms and has been called by many as the "General Architect of the Reforms".

President of the Peoples Republic of China Ceremonial office and nominal de jure Head of State of China

The President of the People's Republic of China is the head of state of the People's Republic of China. Under the country's constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers. However, since 1993, as a matter of convention, the presidency has been held simultaneously by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the top leader in the one party system. The presidency is officially regarded as an institution of the state rather than an administrative post; theoretically, the President serves at the pleasure of the National People's Congress, the legislature, and is not legally vested to take executive action on its own prerogative. The current President is Xi Jinping, who took presidency in March 2013.

Vice President of the Peoples Republic of China largely ceremonial office in China

The Vice President of the People's Republic of China, formerly translated as Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China from 1954 to 1975, is a senior position in the government of the People's Republic of China.

There have been five major revisions by the National People's Congress (NPC) to the 1982 Constitution.

National Peoples Congress highest state body and legislature of the Peoples Republic of China

The National People's Congress is the highest organ of state power and the national legislature of the People's Republic of China. With 2,980 members in 2018, it is the largest parliamentary body in the world. The National People's Congress meets in full session for roughly two weeks each year and votes on important pieces of legislation, and members are considered to be part-time legislators and are not paid to serve in the NPC.

Much of the PRC Constitution is modelled after the 1936 Constitution of the Soviet Union, but there are some significant differences. For example, while the Soviet constitution contains an explicit right of secession, the Chinese constitution explicitly forbids secession. While the Soviet constitution formally creates a federal system, the Chinese constitution formally creates a unitary multi-national state.

The 1936 Soviet Constitution, adopted on 5 December 1936 and also known as the Stalin Constitution, redesigned the government of the Soviet Union. It nominally granted all manner of rights and freedoms, and spelled out a number of democratic procedures. In practice, by asserting the "leading role" of the Communist Party, it cemented the complete control of the party and its leader, Joseph Stalin. Historian J. Arch Getty concludes:

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Federation A union of partially self-governing states or territories united by a central government that exercises power over them

A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs. It is often argued that federal states where the central government has the constitutional authority to suspend a constituent state's government by invoking gross mismanagement or civil unrest, or to adopt national legislation that overrides or infringe on the constituent states' powers by invoking the central government's constitutional authority to ensure "peace and good government" or to implement obligations contracted under an international treaty, are not truly federal states.

The 1982 State Constitution is a lengthy, hybrid document with 138 articles. [2] Large sections were adapted directly from the 1978 constitution, but many of its changes derive from the 1954 constitution. Specifically, the new Constitution de-emphasizes class struggle and places top priority on development and on incorporating the contributions and interests of non-party groups that can play a central role in modernization.

Article 1 of the State Constitution describes China as "a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship" [3] meaning that the system is based on an alliance of the working classes—in communist terminology, the workers and peasants—and is led by the Communist Party, the vanguard of the working class. Elsewhere, the Constitution provides for a renewed and vital role for the groups that make up that basic alliance—the CPPCC, democratic parties, and mass organizations.

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist, or Titoist in case of Yugoslavia political parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism–Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.

Peoples democratic dictatorship

People's democratic dictatorship is a phrase incorporated into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China by Mao Zedong, the then leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The concept, and form of government, is similar to that of people's democracy, which was implemented in a number of Central and Eastern European Communist-controlled states under the guidance of the Soviet Union.

The 1982 Constitution expunges almost all of the rhetoric associated with the Cultural Revolution incorporated in the 1978 version. In fact, the Constitution omits all references to the Cultural Revolution and restates Chairman Mao Zedong's contributions in accordance with a major historical reassessment produced in June 1981 at the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee, the "Resolution on Some Historical Issues of the Party since the Founding of the People's Republic." [4]

Emphasis is also placed throughout the 1982 State Constitution on socialist law as a regulator of political behaviour. Unlike the 1977 Soviet Constitution, the text of the Constitution itself doesn't explicitly mention the Communist Party of China and there is an explicit statement in Article 5 that the Constitution and law are supreme over all organizations and individuals.

Thus, the rights and obligations of citizens are set out in detail far exceeding that provided in the 1978 constitution. Probably because of the excesses that filled the years of the Cultural Revolution, the 1982 Constitution gives even greater attention to clarifying citizens' "fundamental rights and duties" than the 1954 constitution did, like the right to vote and to run for election begins at the age of eighteen except for those disenfranchised by law. The Constitution also guarantees the freedom of religious worship as well as the "freedom not to believe in any religion" and affirms that "religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination."

Article 35 of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration." [3] In the 1978 constitution, these rights were guaranteed, but so were the right to strike and the "four big rights", often called the "four bigs": to speak out freely, air views fully, hold great debates, and write big-character posters. In February 1980, following the Democracy Wall period, the four bigs were abolished in response to a party decision ratified by the National People's Congress. The right to strike was also dropped from the 1982 Constitution. The widespread expression of the four big rights during the student protests of late 1986 elicited the regime's strong censure because of their illegality. The official response cited Article 53 of the 1982 Constitution, which states that citizens must abide by the law and observe labor discipline and public order. Besides being illegal, practising the four big rights offered the possibility of straying into criticism of the Communist Party of China, which was in fact what appeared in student wall posters. In a new era that strove for political stability and economic development, party leaders considered the four big rights politically destabilizing. Chinese citizens are prohibited from forming new political parties. [5]

Among the political rights granted by the constitution, all Chinese citizens have rights to elect and be elected. [6] According to the later promulgated election law, rural residents had only 1/4 vote power of townsmen (formerly 1/8). As Chinese citizens are categorized into rural resident and town resident, and the constitution has no stipulation of freedom of transference, those rural residents are restricted by the Hukou (registered permanent residence) and have fewer political, economic, and educational rights. This problem has largely been addressed with various and ongoing reforms of Hukou in 2007.[ citation needed ] The fore-said ratio of vote power has been readjusted to 1:1 by an amendment to the election law passed in March 2010. [7]

The 1982 State Constitution is also more specific about the responsibilities and functions of offices and organs in the state structure. There are clear admonitions against familiar Chinese practices that the reformers have labelled abuses, such as concentrating power in the hands of a few leaders and permitting lifelong tenure in leadership positions. On the other hand, the constitution strongly oppose the western system of separation of powers by executive, legislature and judicial. It stipulates the NPC as the highest organ of state authority power, under which the State Council, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate shall be elected and responsible for the NPC.

In addition, the 1982 Constitution provides an extensive legal framework for the liberalizing economic policies of the 1980s. It allows the collective economic sector not owned by the state a broader role and provides for limited private economic activity. Members of the expanded rural collectives have the right "to farm private plots, engage in household sideline production, and raise privately owned livestock." The primary emphasis is given to expanding the national economy, which is to be accomplished by balancing centralized economic planning with supplementary regulation by the market.

Another key difference between the 1978 and 1982 state constitutions is the latter's approach to outside help for the modernization program. Whereas the 1978 constitution stressed "self-reliance" in modernization efforts, the 1982 document provides the constitutional basis for the considerable body of laws passed by the NPC in subsequent years permitting and encouraging extensive foreign participation in all aspects of the economy. In addition, the 1982 document reflects the more flexible and less ideological orientation of foreign policy since 1978. Such phrases as "proletarian internationalism" and "social imperialism" have been dropped.

2004 Amendments

The Constitution was amended on March 14, 2004 to include guarantees regarding private property ("legally obtained private property of the citizens shall not be violated,") and human rights ("the State respects and protects human rights.") This was argued by the government to be progress for Chinese democracy and a sign from Communist Party of China that they recognised the need for change, because the booming Chinese economy had created a wealthy new middle class who wanted protection of their own property.

Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted by The Washington Post as saying, "These amendments of the Chinese constitution are of great importance to the development of China." "We will make serious efforts to carry them out in practice.

2018 Amendments

The Constitution was amended on March 11, 2018, with 2,958 votes in favour, two against, and three abstentions. It includes an assortment of revisions to further cement the Communist Party’s control and supremacy [8] ; setting up the National Supervisory Commission, a new anti-graft agency, to extend the powers of the Communist Party’s graft watchdog; adding Hu Jintao's Scientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought to the Preamble of the Constitution, and removing term limits for both the President and Vice President. [9] [10] [11] The article 36 for the first time writes the phrase “Communist Party of China”—and its “leadership”—into the main body of the Constitution. Before this, the CCP and its leadership was only mentioned in the preamble. If the preamble is considered to have no legal force, this article for the first time constitutionalizes China’s status as a one-party state, and will render any competitive multi-party system unconstitutional. [8]

Constitutional enforcement

The National People's Congress Constitution and Law Committee is responsible for constitutional review and the enforcement of the Chinese constitution [12] under National People's Congress and its Standing Committee, and the constitution stipulates that the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee have the power to review whether laws or activities violate the constitution.

Furthermore, under the legal system of the People's Republic of China, courts do not have the general power of judicial review and cannot invalidate a statute on the grounds that it violates the constitution. Nonetheless, since 2002, there has been a special committee of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress which has reviewed laws and regulations for constitutionality. Although this committee has not yet explicitly ruled that a law or regulation is unconstitutional, in one case, after the subsequent media outcry over the death of Sun Zhigang , the State Council was forced to rescind regulations allowing police to detain persons without residency permits after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) made it clear that it would rule such regulations unconstitutional if they were not rescinded.

The Open Constitution Initiative was an organization consisting of lawyers and academics in the People's Republic of China that advocated the rule of law and greater constitutional protections. It was shut down by the government on July 14, 2009.

As the basis for reform

In early 2013, a movement developed among reformers in China based on enforcing the provisions of the constitution. [13]

Related Research Articles

Politics of China National political overview

The politics of the People's Republic of China takes place in a framework of a socialist republic run by a single party, the Communist Party of China, headed by General Secretary. State power within the People's Republic of China (PRC) is exercised through the Communist Party, the Central People's Government and their provincial and local representation. The state uses Internal Reference, secret documents produced by Xinhua News Agency, similar to US' President's Daily Brief, though delivered to most of its officials according to level of secrecy of the information, a major source of information of the society.

Constitution of the Republic of China constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of China, with its Additional Articles, is the supreme law of the Republic of China currently effective in Taiwan. It was ratified by the Kuomintang-led National Constituent Assembly session on December 25, 1946 and adopted on December 25, 1947.

Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference Political advisory body in the Peoples Republic of China

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also known as the People's PCC or simply the PCC (政协), is a political legislative advisory body in the People's Republic of China. The organisation consists of delegates from a range of political parties and organisations, as well as independent members. The proportion of representation of the various parties is determined by established convention, negotiated between the parties.

1977 Constitution of the Soviet Union supreme law of the Soviet Union

At the 7th (Special) Session of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union Ninth Convocation on 7 October 1977, the third and last Soviet Constitution, also known as the Brezhnev Constitution or the constitution of the developed Socialism, was adopted unanimously. The official name was the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia

The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, promulgated on 11 July 1960 as the constitutional law 100/1960 Sb., was the third constitution of Czechoslovakia, and the second of the Communist era. It replaced the 1948 Ninth-of-May Constitution and was widely changed by the Constitutional Law of Federation in 1968. It was extensively revised after the Velvet Revolution to prune out its Communist character, with a view toward replacing it with a completely new constitution. However, this never took place, and it remained in force until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992.

The 1954 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was adopted and enacted on September 20, 1954, through the first session of the First National People’s Congress in Beijing.

The 1978 Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in 1978. This was the PRC's 3rd constitution, and was adopted at the 1st Meeting of the 5th National People's Congress on March 5, 1978, two years after the downfall of the Gang of Four.

Constitution of Vietnam constitution

The Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the current constitution of Vietnam, adopted on 28 November 2013 by the Thirteenth National Assembly, and took effect on 1 January 2014. It is the fourth constitution adopted by the Vietnamese government since the political reunification of the country in 1976.

Law of the People's Republic of China, officially referred to as the Socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, is the legal regime of China, with the separate legal traditions and systems of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The central government of the People's Republic of China is divided among several state organs:

  1. National People's Congress (NPC): the ultimate power of the state that supervise and elects all following organs;
  2. Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC): the legislative branch;
  3. President and the Vice-President, who has no power itself, but exercise power by holding other offices;
  4. State Council : the executive branch, whose Premier is the head of government;
  5. Central Military Commission (CMC): the military branch, whose Chairman is the commander-in-chief of the national armed forces including the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the People's Armed Police (PAP), and the Militia;
  6. National Supervisory Commission (NSC): the supervisory branch;
  7. Supreme People's Court (SPC): the judicial branch;
  8. Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP): the prosecutorial branch.
United Front (China)

The United Front in China is a popular front of the legally permitted parties in the country, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Besides the CPC, it includes eight minor parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. It is managed by the CPC Central Committee United Front Work Department. Its current department head is You Quan. The member parties of the Front are completely subservient to the CPC, and must accept the "leading role" of the CPC as a condition of their continued existence.

Constitution of Armenia constitution of Armenia

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Preamble to the Constitution of India Set of guidelines to the nation and the Constitution of India

The preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out guidelines, which guides the people of the nation, and to present the principles of the Constitution, and to indicate the source from which the document derives its authority, and meaning The hopes and aspirations of the people are described in it. The preamble can be referred to as the preface which highlights the entire Constitution. It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26 January 1950, celebrated as the Republic day in India.

Constitutional history of the Peoples Republic of China

The Constitutional history of the People's Republic of China describes the evolution of its Constitutional system. The first Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in 1954. After two intervening versions enacted in 1975 and 1978, the current Constitution was promulgated in 1982. There were significant differences between each of these versions, and the 1982 Constitution has subsequently been amended several times. In addition, changing Constitutional conventions have led to significant changes in the structure of the Chinese government in the absence of changes in the text of the Constitution.

Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR was a fundamental law of the Ukrainian SSR which was a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (federation). There were four editions of the constitution from 1919 to 1991. Three of them were in the Ukrainian language, while the very first was in the Russian language.

The 2018 National People's Congress, or the First Session of the 13th National People's Congress, was held in March 2018 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. The session opened on 5 March and concluded on 20 March. Major state positions were elected in this session.

The following article is about references to socialism in liberal democratic constitutions. Its referenced either in the form of denunciation or in form of construction—that the state in question seeks to establish a socialist society. In these cases, the intended meaning of "socialism" can vary widely and sometimes the constitutional references to socialism are left over from a previous period in the country's history.



  1. "Constitution of the People's Republic of China (2018 Amendment)". Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  2. "China 1982 (rev. 2004)". Constitute. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  3. 1 2 "CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA". People's Daily. December 4, 1982.
  4. "Resolution on certain questions..."
  5. Worden, Robert L.; Savada, Andrea Matles; Dolan, Ronald E., eds. (1987). "The Government". China: A Country Study. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.
  6. "China 1982 (rev. 2004)". Constitute. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  7. "城乡居民选举首次实现同票同权(Chinese)". Archived from the original on July 17, 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Translation: 2018 Amendment to the P.R.C. Constitution".
  9. Nectar Gan (March 12, 2018). "Xi Jinping cleared to stay on as China's president with just 2 dissenters among 2,964 votes". South China Morning Post . Archived from the original on October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  10. Liangyu, ed. (March 11, 2018). "China's national legislature adopts constitutional amendment". Xinhuanet. Archived from the original on October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  11. Liangyu, ed. (February 25, 2018). "CPC proposes change on Chinese president's term in Constitution". Xinhuanet. Archived from the original on October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  12. "坚决贯彻宪法精神 加强宪法实施监督_中国人大网".
  13. Edward Wong; Jonathan Ansfield (February 3, 2013). "Reformers Aim to Get China to Live Up to Own Constitution". The New York Times . Retrieved February 4, 2013.


See also