Backgrounder: revisions of China´s Constitution 03-08-2004 16:26

China's current Constitution was adopted in 1982 on the basis of the basic principle of the Constitution passed in 1954.

The Constitution stipulates that the basic task for the nation is to concentrate its effort on socialist modernization drive, strive to improve socialist material and cultural progress, and turn China into a socialist country with high-degree democracy.

It stipulates that China takes the four cardinal principles -- socialist road, people's democratic dictatorship, leadership of the Communist Party of China, and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought -- as guidelines.

On developing socialist democracy, the Constitution stipulates that all citizens are equal before the law, no organization nor person has the privilege of overstepping the bounds of the law.

The Constitution also stipulates that state leaders must serve no more than two consecutive terms (10 years), and this actually abolishes the de facto life-long term of leading officials.

In line with changing situation, the Constitution was revised three times in 1988, 1993 and 1999, respectively, since 1982.

The following are the major points of the changes:

-- 1988: private economy and new land-use system

The First Session of the Seventh National People's Congress (NPC) in 1988 approved amendments to Article 11 of Constitution: "The state permits private economy to exist and grow within the limits prescribed by law" and non-public economy is "a complement to the socialist public economy."

The amendments lift the ban on the lease of land-use right.

The revisions establish the legal status of private economy and the country's new land-use right system.

-- 1993: market economy, household contracted responsibility system

The First Session of the Eighth NPC made nine amendments to the Constitution in 1993, incorporated into the Constitution the terms of the primary stage of socialism, building socialism with Chinese characteristics and adhering to reform and opening up; replaced "planned economy" with "socialist market economy," "state-run economy and state-run enterprises" with "state economy and state-owned enterprises," "rural people's commune" with "household contracted responsibility system with remuneration linked to output."

The amendments provided a guarantee for the development of the market economy in China.

-- 1999: Deng Xiaoping Theory, non-public economy

The Second Session of the Ninth NPC in 1999 made six amendments to the Constitution, enshrining the guiding role of Deng Xiaoping Theory, establishing rule of law as a national policy, further highlighting the role of the private sector, and replacing "counter-revolutionary activities" with "criminal activities jeopardizing state security."

Editor:Wang  Source:Xinhua News Agency

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