China's Constitutional Entrepreneurs

58 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2016 Last revised: 29 May 2017

Date Written: February 2, 2016


This Article revisits citizen activism in the Hu Jintao-era, focusing on the use of constitutional argumentation to influence state action. It finds that constitutional discourse has served as an essential component of an advocacy strategy through which ordinary citizens have achieved disproportionate policy influence. When employed as part of a broader model of policy entrepreneurship, characterized by the use of selective targeting and popular mobilization, efforts to reframe policies in constitutional terms have led to concrete policy change – a rare but notable feat in an authoritarian system that is generally unencumbered by constitutional constraint. Though recent policies have chilled this style of advocacy, they are not fated to do so forever. The era of China’s constitutional entrepreneurs may not yet be over.

Keywords: China; Constitutional Law; Comparative Constitutional Law; Law and Social Change; Policy Process

Suggested Citation

Jia, Mark, China's Constitutional Entrepreneurs (February 2, 2016). American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 64 No. 3 (2016) , Available at SSRN:

Mark Jia (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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