Chinese Law Professor Offers Staunch Defense of Constitutionalism

January 11, 2015 Updated: January 16, 2015

An outspoken constitutional law professor at Peking University Law School, Zhang Qianfan, wrote a commentary criticizing Chinese state-run media for running numerous anti-constitutional reports. In his Op-Ed titled, “Why Does Anti-Constitutionalism Have No Future?” Zhang wrote, “The anti-constitutional standpoint is ridiculous, because its essence is against humanity,” published in the Chinese edition of the Financial Times on Jan. 5. 

Since May 2013, Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media started publishing articles attacking constitutionalism in earnest.

While many Chinese scholars have criticized those reports—such as one by Red Flag Manuscript, which states that constitutionalism belongs to capitalism but not socialism—the Party’s mouthpiece continues publishing them.

Zhang mentioned that just in the past month, the People’s Daily, Global Times, and Red Flag Manuscript, an ideological journal, published four reports in total that criticize constitutionalism.

Zhang suggested that people who are against constitutionalism probably believe they are protected. He indicated, however, that without constitutionalism even officials with vested interests within the Party have no protection for their basic freedoms. “They themselves would also be victims of the system,” Zhang wrote, “Only with constitutionalism can one overcome the lack of human rights.”

“The anti-constitutional standpoint is ridiculous, because its essence is against humanity.”
— Zhang Qianfan, Professor of Constitutional Law, Peking University Law School

Anti-constitutionalism, Zhang surmised, has also led to the suppression of freedom of belief and freedom of expression, which has contributed to environmental pollution and food safety problems, among other issues, due to the overall moral deterioration in China. “The repression of religious freedom is an important reason for what has caused such danger… the issues of our air, water, and food safety are mainly due to the unscrupulous and irresponsible behavior of people.”

The Chinese regime’s propaganda also penetrates the education system in China, “covering up history and distorting notions to brainwash people,” Zhang said.

According to Zhang while constitutionalism protects the people’s rights, anti-constitutionalism on the contrary maintains a totalitarian state, feeding the vested interests of party members.

Zhang pointed out that many Chinese scholars don’t have the courage to criticize the system due to the lack of freedom of speech. “They are either scared by the autocracy to not say the truth, or lured to lie by benefits… They have little sense of shame,” Zhang said.

The number of Chinese immigrating to other countries has been rapidly increasing in recent years, including many corrupt communist officials and wealthy Chinese. “Without constitutionalism, we [Chinese] only have two choices: escaping or staying to suffer,” Zhang said.

Translated and written in English by Lu Chen.