Court ruling needed to push Constitution

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-4 0:38:02

Thursday marks China's first Constitution Day. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, much attention has been paid to the Constitution by both government officials and the public. After the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC in October, unprecedented attention has been given to the "rule of the Constitution."

But we have to admit that Chinese society is still confused about Constitution-related issues. Chinese courts have never used "unconstitutional" as a verdict; most Chinese people have no idea about how to protect their rights under the Constitution. Some even believe Party and government leaders' directives are more powerful than the Constitution, while there are also some radical dissidents taking public opposition against the CPC's leadership as a reflection of individual freedom.

The rule of law has to base itself on the authority of the Constitution, or the whole process to establish the rule of law will face a lot of unknown challenges.

China's high-ranking government officials should be requested to swear an oath to the Constitution before they take office. This ritual would attempt to urge civil servants to stick with the rule of law, as many local governments have done unconstitutional deeds.

Not only government officials, but radical activists have also violated the Constitution. The most well-known is Liu Xiaobo and his Charter 08 movement in 2008. His actions were nothing but defiance of the Constitution.

China lacks an authoritative interpretation of the Constitution. For example, the Constitution clearly states that the CPC is the leader of this country, but it also endows Chinese people with free speech. If some people take advantage of their rights to speak freely, circulating ideas to topple the CPC's leadership, how can we define the nature of their actions? Such debates are growing intense.

Addressing the contradiction requires the consensus of the majority of society. If individuals attempt to interpret the Constitution themselves, they will naturally put their own spin on it due to their own views and values. The standing committee of the National People's Congress should take on the job of interpreting the Constitution.

The implementation of the rule of the Constitution requires broad agreement from all walks of life, who are willing to regard the rule of law as in their best interests. Chinese society needs the conflicts resolved by an authoritative and widely recognized mechanism.

The endeavor to establish the rule of law will be demanding, but it will be easy to make it fall apart. Street politics in Hong Kong, a city boasting the rule of law, can serve as a lesson.

Publicity helps to boost the rule of the Constitution, but it is more important to include the principle into daily judicial practices. China needs a court ruling to set a precedent on what is unconstitutional. This will be more convincing than a lot of publicity. China needs to know what is unconstitutional to give society more confidence in the Constitution.

Posted in: Editorial

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