China's 'Rule of Law'; Regime Creates Constitutions to Fit Its Needs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

China's 'Rule of Law'; Regime Creates Constitutions to Fit Its Needs


Byline: Li Shaomin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON

In recent years, the Chinese government has arrested many scholars in social sciences for "endangering state security." Last year, I was secretly arrested and tried in China and expelled from the country. My "crime" was conducting research on China's use of funds from a Taiwan foundation. These arrests have brought worldwide criticism. While urging Chinese government to respect human rights, we should realize that these arrests are a logical result of China's constitution.

In China, where the constitution is not taken seriously, four constitutions had been produced in a short span of 28 years. The first one was written in 1954, paving the way for abolishing private property rights and establishing the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after it seized power in 1949. In 1975, the second constitution was written, reflecting the extreme radical ideology of the Cultural Revolution. In 1976, Mao Tse-tung died. The third constitution was written two years later. In 1982, the fourth constitution was written. Frequent rewriting of the constitution does not help people respect it.

China's constitution has the following characteristics. First, it is made without any opposition views and no checks and balances of power. It is more like a set of by-laws of "Chinese Socialism Inc." Second, there is no formal ratification process for such a basic law. Third, power of the state comes from communist ideology. It proclaims that China must follow the "four cardinal principles" - Marxist ideology, CCP rule, people's dictatorship and socialist road. In sum, the constitution gives the CCP unlimited power to pursue its goal to build a socialist state.

Under such a constitution, the CCP pursues its own agenda in the name of public interests. In the economic domain, the party has been steadfastly exploiting private businesses and property. From the 1950s to the 1970s, it was an outright confiscation. In the current constitution, it states that "socialist public property is inviolable." But private properties do not enjoy such a status. Private businesses are banned from many key industries such as telecom, aviation, postal and international trade, and are restricted from many other industries. Governmental fees imposed on private businesses are so high that the latter must either evade by bribing or go bankrupt. Corruption is the incentive for party officials to carry out dual-tracked economic reform, in which market forces are introduced and party privileges are maintained. …

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