China's Legal Awakening: Legal Theory and Criminal Justice in Deng's Era

By Carlos Wing-Hung Lo | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
On the Threshold of Legality: 1983-85

Legal Reform: 1983-85

The year 1983 was a watershed year. The adoption of the 1982 state Constitution brought legal security within China's reach. Unequivocally and unprecedentedly the Constitution was declared 'supreme':

All state organs, the armed forces, all political parties and public organizations and all enterprises and undertakings in the country must take the Constitution as the basic norm of conduct. They have the duty to uphold the dignity of the Constitution and ensure its implementation.1

More precisely, the Constitution stated: 'no organization or individual may enjoy the privilege of being above the Constitution and the law'.2

This marked the beginning of the era of constitutional order in China, on the basis of the socialist legal system. In theory, integrating the institutional structures and the activities of Party and state organs with the legal framework was accomplished by the promulgation of the two Constitutions of 1982. What remained were problems of implementation and the further improvement of the legal system. Especially significant here was the Party's promise that all itsctivities should be within the law: 'The Party must conduct its activities within the limits permitted by the Constitution and the laws of the state'.3

____________________
1
Preamble, The Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 1983, p. 8.
2
Ibid., Article Five, p. 14.
3
'Constitution of the Communist Party of China', The Twelfth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 1982, p. 93.

-133-

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