Constitution of the People’s Republic of China

(1982)

Impact

The impact of the new constitution is difficult to measure. The document is more of a presentation of ideas and policies than a strictly legal document that changed precedent. The constitution informs the law, but the constitution itself does not have a separate legal status that is enforced. Changes have been introduced, however. Obviating the need for a new constitution every time a new leader gained power, the 1982 constitution allowed for amendments to be made while leaving the basic structure intact, and the constitution was indeed amended in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. All of these amendments, passed in NPC sessions, were enacted to address economic changes in China as it became an open market—a capitalist economy in a Socialist state. Changes to articles reasserted the role of the state in managing and controlling the market and labor. The articles regarding owning private property were also changed to allow private ownership in a previously collectivized land...

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Deng Xiaoping (center) on a visit to the White House (LIbrary of Congress)

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