After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, four Constitutions have been formulated successively in 1954, 1975, 1978 and 1982. The present Constitution, promulgated in 1982, includes four chapters in addition to the Preamble: “General Principles,” “The Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens,” “The Structure of the State, and “The National Flag, the National Emblem and the Capital,” totaling 138 articles. Revisions and amendments to some articles of the Constitution were made and adopted by the National People’s Congress in 1988, 1993 and 1999.
The Constitution guarantees the basic rights and interests of citizens, including the right to vote and stand for election; freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration; freedom of religious belief; the inviolability of the freedom of the person, the personal dignity and the residences; freedom and privacy of correspondence; the right to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary and exercise supervision; the right to work and rest and the right to material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled; and the right to receive education and freedom to engage in scientific research, literary and artistic creation and other cultural pursuits.
China’s legal system includes laws of seven categories: the Constitution and related laws, civil and commercial laws, administrative laws, economic laws, social laws, criminal laws, and litigation and non-litigation procedural laws. Since 1979, legal system building in China has developed rapidly and in an all round way. By the end of 2001, more than 400 laws and legal decisions had been made by the NPC and its Standing Committee, about 1,000 administrative laws and regulations made by the State Council, and more than 10,000 local laws and regulations made by local people’s congresses, covering political, economic and social fields. A comparatively complete legal system is now basically in place in China.