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East Asian History Sourcebook:

People's Republic of China: Constitution, 1982


China's Constitution was adopted by the Fifth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress on Dec 4, 1982. It was amended on Apr 12, 1988 and in 1993.

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA  

CHAPTER I: GENERAL PRINCIPLES  

The People's Republic of China is a socialist state and a dictatorship of the people based on an alliance of workers and peasants.  

The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at all levels are elected democratically and are responsible to the people. These congresses create all administrative and judicial organs. Local congresses may take the initiative to run their own affairs under the leadership of central authorities.  

All nationalities are equal. The state fosters the economic and cultural development of minorities in accordance with the specific needs of each group. 

The economic system is based on socialist public ownership. The leading force in the economy is the state economy, which is under the ownership of the whole people. The state undertakes economic planning on the basis of public ownership. The state also encourages the growth of urban and rural collectives. It exercises administrative control over the individual economy, while protecting citizens' rights to own earned income, savings, houses, and other property.  

The state sponsors education and works to raise the nation's cultural and scientific levels. It develops sports activities, promotes modern and traditional Chinese medicine, develops health services, and fosters family planning.  

The state suppresses treasonable and counterrevolutionary activities. The armed forces, which belong to the people, defends the motherland against aggression, safeguards the people's labor, and works to serve the people.  

Directly under the central government, the country is divided into provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. The provinces and autonomous regions are further divided into autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties, and cities. The counties and autonomous counties are divided into townships, nationality townships, and towns. Municipalities under direct control of the central government are divided into districts and counties, while autonomous prefectures are divided into cities and autonomous counties.  

CHAPTER II: THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS  

All citizens are equal before the law and all citizens over 18 have the right to vote and stand for election. There is freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly, association, and demonstration. The personal freedom and the home of citizens are inviolable, as is the privacy of communications.  

All citizens have the right and duty to work. The state provides material assistance and medical services to citizens who are old, ill, or disabled. Citizens have the right and duty to receive an education. The state promotes the moral, intellectual, and physical development of youth.  

Women have the same rights as men. The state protects marriage, the family, mothers, and children. Husbands and wives are equally obligated to practice family planning.   

Citizens have the duty to safeguard the unity of the country, defend the motherland, and perform military service.  

CHAPTER III: THE STRUCTURE OF THE STATE  

SECTION I: THE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS  

The highest state organ is the National People's Congress, the legislative body of the state. It is composed of deputies elected by the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the permanent body of the congress, conducts the election.  

The congress meets once a year in ordinary session and may be called into extraordinary session by the Standing Committee or by the request of one-fifth of the members of the congress. The body serves a five-year term. The congress has the power to amend the Constitution; enact basic statutes on criminal offenses, civil affairs, and state organs; approve nominees for premier, vice premier, state councillors, ministers, and other officers; elect the chairperson of the Central Military Commission, elect the procurator general, approve the national economic and social development plan, approve the budget, and decide on matters of war and peace. All deputies have the right to initiate legislation.  

Constitutional amendments must be proposed by the Standing Committee or by at least one-fifth of the National People's Congress deputies. They are approved by a two-thirds majority vote. Statutes and resolutions need the approval of a simple majority of deputies.  

The Standing Committee is composed of a chairperson, vice chairpersons, a secretary general, and other members, all of whom are elected by the National People's Congress. The committee has the power to supervise the enforcement of the Constitution; enact statutes that the congress is not empowered to enact; supervise the work of the State Council, the Central Military Commission, and the procurator general; annul rules and regulations that are contrary to the Constitution; annul local regulations and decisions that are contrary to the Constitution or the laws; appoint members of the judiciary; ratify treaties; and enact general mobilizations. It also carries out functions of the National People's Congress when that body is not in session.  

The National People's Congress establishes committees on nationalities, law, finance and economics, education, science, culture and public health, foreign affairs, and overseas Chinese. These and other committees the congress decides to create discuss and draw up legislation. The congress and the Standing Committee may also appoint committees of inquiry.  

SECTION II: THE PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC  

The National People's Congress elects the president and vice president of the People's Republic to serve five-year terms. Neither can serve more than two consecutive terms. The president promulgates laws; appoints the premier, vice premiers, state councillors, ministers, the auditor general, and the secretary general of the State Council; issues pardons; and proclaims martial law and states of war. The president also receives ambassadors, appoints diplomatic representatives, and ratifies treaties. The vice president assists the president and succeeds to the presidency when it is vacated.   

SECTION III: THE STATE COUNCIL  

The State Council is the executive body of the state and the highest organ of administration. It is composed of the premier, the vice premiers, state councillors, ministers, the auditor general, and the secretary general. The premier has overall responsibility for the council's work, while the ministers have responsibility for their ministries. The council serves for five years.  

The State Council adopts administrative rules and regulations, makes proposals to the National People's Congress and the Standing Committee, drafts and implements the national economic and social development plan, conducts foreign affairs, concludes treaties, annuls inappropriate decisions of local administrative organs, and enforces martial law. The council also establishes an auditing body to monitor revenues and expenditures at all levels. The council is responsible to the National People's Congress.  

SECTION IV: THE CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION  

The Central Military Commission directs the armed forces. It is composed of a chairperson, vice chairperson, and other members. The chairperson is responsible to the National People's Congress.  

SECTION V: THE LOCAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESSES AND THE LOCAL PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT AT DIFFERENT LEVELS  

Local people's congresses and local people's governments exist at all levels below the national level. The local people's congresses may also establish standing committees. Regulations adopted by the congresses directly below the national level may not run contrary to the Constitution.  

SECTION VI: THE ORGANS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL AUTONOMOUS AREAS  

There are people's congresses and people's governments for autonomous areas at all levels.  

SECTION VII: THE PEOPLE'S COURTS AND THE PEOPLE'S PROCURATORATES  

The judicial organs are the people's courts, including the Supreme People's Court and the local people's courts. There are also military courts and special people's courts. The judicial power is independent of the other state organs.  

The president of the Supreme People's Court serves a five-year term and may serve two consecutive terms. The Supreme People's Court supervises the administration of justice by the local and special people's courts. It is responsible to the National People's Court and the Standing Committee. Local people's courts are responsible to the local people's congresses at the corresponding levels.  

The people's procuratorates are responsible for legal supervision. The Supreme People's Procuratorate directs the work of the local procuratorates and is responsible to the National People's Congress.  

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, APR 12, 1988.   

The state permits the existence of a private sector economy, complimentary to the socialist economy, within the limits of the law. It will protect the rights and interests of the private economy and provide it with guidance and control.  

[Source: Constitutions of the Countries of the World]

Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984  

The following is the text of the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong:  

"The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irleand and the Government of the People's Republic of China have reviewed with satisfaction the friendly relations existing between the two Governments and peoples in recent years and agreed that a proper negotiated settlement of the question of Hong Kong, which is left over from the past, is conducive to the maintenance of the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and to the further strengthening and development of the relations between the two countries on a new basis. To this end, they have, after talks between the delegations of the two Governments, agreed to declare as follows:  

1. The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that to recover the Hong Kong area (including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, hereinafter referred to as Hong Kong) is the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people, and that it has decided to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong with effect from 1 July 1997.  

2. The Government of the United Kingdom declares that it will restore Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China with effect from 1 July 1997.  

3. The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that the basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong are as follows:  

(1) Upholding national unity and territorial integrity and taking account of the history of Hong Kong and its realities, the People's Republic of China has decided to establish, in accordance with the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution (1982) of the People's Republic of China, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region upon assuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong.  

(2) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will be directly under the authority of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs which are the responsibility of the Central People's Government.  

(3) The Hong Kong Special Administrative region will be vested with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The laws currently in force in Hong Kong will remain basically unchanged.  

(4) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative region will be composed of local inhabitants. The chief executive will be appointed by the Central People's Government on the basis of the results of elections or consultations to be held locally. Principal officials will be nominated by the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for appointment by the Central People's Government. Chinese and foreign nationals previously working in the public and police services in the government departments of Hong Kong may remain in employment. British and other foreign nationals may also be employed to serve as advisers or hold certain public posts in government departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  

(5) The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style. Rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief will be ensured by law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment will be protected by law.  

(6) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will retain the status of a free port and separate customs territory.  

(7) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will retain the status of an international financial centre, and its markets for foreign exchange, gold, securities and futures will continue. There will be free flow of capital. The Hong Kong dollar will continue to circulate and remain freely convertible.  

(8) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will have independent finances. The Central People's Government will not levy taxes on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  

(9) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may establish mutually beneficial economic relations with the United Kingdom and other countries, whose economic interests in Hong Kong will be given due regard.  

(10) Using the name 'Hong Kong, China,' the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may on its own maintain and develop economic and cultural relations and conclude relevant agreements with states, regions and relevant international organisations.  

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may on its own issue travel documents for entry into and exit from Hong Kong.  

(11) The maintenance of public order in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will be the responsibility of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  

(12) The above-stated basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong and the elaboration of them in Annex 1 to this Joint Declaration will be stipulated, in a Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, by the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, and they will remain unchanged for 50 years.  

4. The Government of the United Kingdom and of the People's Republic of China declare that, during the transitional period between the date of the entry into force of this Joint Declaration and 30 June 1997, the Government of the United Kingdom will be responsible for the administration of Hong Kong with the object of maintaining and preserving its economic prosperity and social stability; and that the Government of the People's Republic of China will give its cooperation in this connection.  

5. The Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the People's Republic of China declare that, in order to ensure a smooth transfer of government in 1997, and with a view to the effective implementation of this Joint Declaration, a Sino-British Joint Liaison Group will be set up when this Joint Declaration enters into force; and that it will be established and will function in accordance with the provisions of Annex II to this Joint Declaration.  

6. The Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the People's Republic of China declare that land leases in Hong Kong and other related matters will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of Annex III to this Joint Declaration.  

7. The Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the People's Republic of China agree to implement the preceding declarations and the Annexes to this Joint Declaration.  

8. This Joint Declaration is subject to ratification and shall enter into force on the date of the exchange of instruments of ratification, which shall take place in Beijing before 30 June 1985. This Joint Declaration and its Annexes shall be equally binding.   

Done in duplicate at Beijing on 19 December 1984 in the English and Chinese languages, both texts being equally authentic."


Source

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This text is part of the Internet East Asian History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, October 2000



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