The Composite State of China Under 'One Country, Multiple Systems': Theoretical Construction and Methodological Considerations
International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 272-297
26 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012 Last revised: 11 Oct 2013
Date Written: April 30, 2012
Under the formula of 'one country, two systems,' Hong Kong and Macau were handed over to the People’s Republic of China to become two special administrative regions. Today, China has a total of thirty-three subnational units or constituencies: twenty-two provinces, four municipalities directly under the central government, five national autonomous regions and two special administrative regions. With the creation of special administrative region, the Chinese state has experienced a de facto structural change and, in my view, can no longer be characterized as a unitary state nor a federation. It is more accurate to identify and define China as a 'composite state.' The concept of composite state, developed in this article, not only will come to terms theoretically with the newly formed relationship between central and regional/local authorities but will also rationalize how the vertical separation of power is institutionalized, how different degrees and forms of autonomy are designed to accommodate each locality’s needs, and what the salient features of each autonomous regime are. With special reference to the autonomy practiced by Hong Kong today, the article proposes this novel legal and political conception in hopes that it will be able to provide a theoretical paradigm and a sound constitutional framework which can serve as an original approach to such issues as Tibet and Xinjiang, and also to the question of national unity and reunification with Taiwan in the future.
Keywords: comparative constitutional law, Chinese constitutional law, political institutions, comparative federalism, sub-national constitution, central-local relations
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