Citizens Engage the Constitution: The Sun Zhigang Incident and Constitutional Review Proposals in the People’s Republic of China

  • Keith J. Hand
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


Shortly after assuming leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the fall of 2002, Hu Jintao proclaimed that China’s “broad masses” should view the Constitution as a “legal weapon for safeguarding citizen rights” (Zhongguo xinwen wang 2002). In recent years, citizen activists have tested the limits of this rhetoric by advancing constitutional claims in different legal fora. Some of these efforts have focused on the people’s courts (see Pils, this volume). But as noted throughout this volume, neither the government nor the courts recognize the Constitution as being justiciable (see, e.g., Supreme People’s Court 2008). Other citizens have focused on an alternative legal mechanism that the government has explicitly recognized as a legitimate forum for constitutional complaints: the constitutional review procedure established under Article 90(2) of China’s Law on Legislation (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Lifa Fa 2000). This provision grants Chinese citizens the right to propose (jianyi) that the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) review administrative regulations and local laws that they deem to be inconsistent with national law or the Constitution.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome State Council Chinese Communist Party Chinese Citizen Supreme People 
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© Stéphanie Balme and Michael W. Dowdle 2009

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  • Keith J. Hand

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