China's Quest for a Modern Constitutional Polity

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.


To, Michael




China's quest for a modern constitutional polity in the past one hundred years is still an unfinished business. It is this research's argument that for China to become a modern polity, it needs further social and political development, so that the Chinese people will have a stake in its polity and its constitutional framing. The research question of this thesis asks what lessons can we learn to support this argument from the analyses of the divergence/convergence between constitutional intents and the social and political needs of the past one hundred years. The key lessons learned in support of the research argument are as follows: 

  • The traditional Chinese response to scarcity caused its underdevelopment. Underdevelopment in modern time is not an option as it has serious consequences.
  • Not actively competing in the world was the ultimate source of China's past decays.
  • Functional/institutional designs harming political participation can cause instability.
  • Ideology driven social restructuring can be disastrous due to its partiality.
  • State directed constitutional framing can hardly be expected to produce constitutionalism.
  • Constitutionalism requires social forces putting demands on the state.
  • Constitutionalism must be supported by statutes and political reforms.
  • The origin of a constitutional idea does not matter as long as it is truly needed in China.

The research result makes clear what the state needs to do in its next phase of development. The current leaders’ recognition of the need to put state power under the constitution is a sign of new convergence towards people's demand for rights, rule of law and opposition to corruption and abuse of power.


Political science




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).