China has drafted four constitutions since the founding of the People’s Republic, respectively in 1954, 1975, 1978 and 1982.    

The present constitution, drawn up after discussion attended by representatives of all of China’s people, came into effect following approval by the Fifth Session of the Fifth NPC on December 4, 1982. This constitution continues the basic principles underlying the first constitution of 1954, while effectively distilling the experiences gained in China’s socialist development and adopting the relevant experiences of other nations, all  with careful consideration of the then realities and the prospects for further development. As a result, it is a constitution with Chinese characteristics, well suited for the betterment of the nation

Deputies to the Second Session of the Ninth NPC held in March 1999 voting on the draft of an amendment to the Constitution.


politically, economically and culturally during the new era of socialist modernization. The Constitution is divided, in addition to the preamble, into four chapters: General Principles; Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens; the Structure of the State; and the National Flag, National Emblem and Capital. These, in turn, contain 138 articles. The First Session of the Seventh NPC, held in April 1988, the First Session of the Eighth NPC, held in March 1993, and the Second Session of the Ninth NPC, held in March 1999 approved revised versions of the Constitution, and revised and replenished a small number of articles so as to make them conform better to the country’s reality and the needs of its development.

The Constitution specifies: The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. China will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come. The fundamental task of the state is to concentrate efforts on socialist modernization along the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Under the leadership of the CPC and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups will continue to adhere to the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist road, and to uphold reform and opening to the outside world, steadily improve socialist institutions, develop the socialist market economy, promote socialist democracy, improve the socialist legal system, and work hard and in a  self-reliant way to modernize the country’s industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology step by step, to build China into a strong and prosperous, culturally advanced, democratic socialist nation.

The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of every citizen, including the right to vote and stand for election, the freedoms of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of demonstration and of religious belief. Citizens’ freedom of the person is inviolable, as is their right to protection from unwarranted intrusions into their personal dignity and the sanctity of their homes. Freedom and privacy of correspondence are protected by law. Citizens have the right to criticize or make suggestions to any state organ or functionary, and the right to supervise them. Citizens have the right to work and to rest, and to material assistance from the state and society if they are aged, ill or disabled. Citizens have the right to education and the freedom to engage in scientific research, literary and artistic creation, and other cultural pursuits. In addition, the Constitution includes the specifications on the democratic administration of grass-roots units and the masses’ autonomy, so as to enable the people to directly manage economic and cultural institutions, and social affairs. For instance, state-owned enterprises and collective economic organizations practice democratic management through general meetings or congresses of workers and staff. Neighborhood committees in cities and villagers* committees in rural areas practice autonomy by the masses, handle public affairs and public welfare undertakings of their respective residential areas, report the opinions and demands of the masses to the government and put forward proposals.

The Constitution is the fundamental law of the state, with the highest legal effect. The people of all ethnic groups in China, all state organs, armed forces, political parties, social organizations, enterprises and institutions must observe it as the legal framework of their activities.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.