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Upholding China's Constitution is far more important than revising it
Wang Dan
10/5/2003



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There are reports that the Third Plenary Session of the 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress scheduled for October will revise the Chinese constitution once again. I think the so-called constitution and its numerous revisions crafted by the Communist party are not worth being taken seriously.

As in all modern countries ruled by totalitarian regimes, the hypocrisy of the Chinese constitution and legal systems is no secret and is demonstrated by countless absurdities.

In the 1999 revision, the "theories" of the Tiananmen Massacre's chief executioner, Deng Xiaoping, were added to the China's constitution, the so-called “law of all laws”.

Today, Jiang Zemin also wants to add his favorite tongue twister, the “Three Represents” to the same constitution. This demonstrates that it is the Chinese Communist Party that really “owns” the constitution, not the people of China themselves.

Their actions treat the constitution as a child’s toy, blatantly inserting the names of such odious individuals, and are truly nothing but death knells for China's constitution.

In reality, in Communist China, the constitution has never functioned as it was written. It has never substantially benefited Chinese society. The only thing positive in all the revisions is to accept timidly the fait-a-compli.

The widely welcomed constitutional protection of private property offers nothing but protection for Party elites at all levels who have enriched themselves through the corrupt exploitation of their political power.

They do all they can to push their corrupt tactics a step closer to becoming legality in each constitutional revision, but turn a deaf ear to China's mountains of social problems.

A constitution is supposed to define and limit political power, yet the constitution of the People’s Republic of China has very few articles that do so. It is stuffed with false, exaggerated, and empty clichés.

Even these clichés are arbitrarily and openly violated in daily life by the communist regime at its convenience.

There are countless examples of such violations, which have become worse in recent years. There is convincing evidence to prove that the Communist Party has never taken following the constitution serously.

Of all Chinese laws, the one that officials run the least chance of ever being accused of violating is the constitution. In fact, communist officials are more likely to lose their jobs for refusing to violate it.

We can safely say that the power of the constitution in Chinese society is nothing compared to the power of a phone call from one's superior in the Party hierarchy.

This is the state of the Chinese constitution today. Without changing this deplorable state of affairs, any other talk about the constitution is nothing but a play of words. No matter if its Jiang's “Three Represents”, the protection of private property, or freedom of choosing where to live - none of it makes any difference in the current situation where no one in power pays the least bit of attention to citizens' constitutional rights. It' like the constiution wasn't even there.

A healthy modern society must be one that is ruled by law. The rights of citizens under the constitution are a precondition for equal protection under the law.

Fair play in a civilized society is only possible if everyone follows the same set of rules. If fair play is only a play on words, then we should tell the Chinese communists to go play by themselves.

As a result of all of this, I consider it far more important to uphold the supreme authority of the Chinese constitution than revising it.

*Opinion article written by Wang Dan, a renown human rights and democratic activist in China who led the 1989 student movement and was imprisoned because of that.

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