Constitutional Revisionism in the PRC: Seeking Truth from Facts

40 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2006  

Hal E. Blanchard

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP


March 2004 witnessed a dramatic overhaul of the People's Republic of China's fledgling constitution, reflecting a concerted effort by the Chinese Communist Party ("CPC") to protect private property, promote the private sector, and secure human rights. This article analyzes the practical implications of constitutional revisionism with respect to the changing economic, political, and social agendas of the CPC as it has evolved under Deng Xiaoping's policy of "Reform and Opening Up." Absent electoral democracy or judicial review, the long list of rights provided for in the amendments is thought to be largely symbolic, yet the CPC's search for a new legitimacy under the rubric of Western constitutionalism should not be condemned outright. This article argues that despite its totalitarian tendencies, China is currently in the process of working out its own hybrid form of constitutionalism in which law has begun to replace party policy and the "cult of personality" as an independent source of legitimation.

Keywords: China, constitution, human rights, communism, rule of law, socialist democracy

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K30, K33, K40, O40, P20, P26, P30

Suggested Citation

Blanchard, Hal E., Constitutional Revisionism in the PRC: Seeking Truth from Facts. Florida Journal of International Law, Vol. 17, pp. 365-403, 2005; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 895125. Available at SSRN:

Hal E. Blanchard (Contact Author)

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP ( email )

1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
United States
212-336-2151 (Phone)
212-336-7991 (Fax)

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