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Home > Compliance
China is to amend its Constitution
By Henry Chen | 2017/12/28 9:59:25

On December 27, 2017, the Political Bureau of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (“CPC”) convened and decided to hold the Second Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee in January of 2018.  One of most important items on the agenda of the plenary session will be to amend the Constitution of China.

The Constitution of China is nominally the supreme law of the People's Republic of China.  The current version was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982, with further revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004.  Three previous state constitutions since the CPC took the state power of China — those of 1954, 1975, and 1978 — were superseded in turn.  The Constitution has five sections which are the preamble, general principles, fundamental rights and duties of citizens, structure of the state (which includes such state organs as the National People's Congress, the State Council, the Local People's Congress and Local People's Governments and the People's Courts and the People's Procuratorates), the national flag and the emblems of the state.

The four previous amendments of the 1982 version saw some changes that are friendly to private economies.  For example, the 1988 amendment allowed private economy to become supplementary to socialist public economy (i.e., economy pre-dominated by the state-owned enterprises).  The 1992 amendment agreed that individual economy, private economy and foreign economy are diversified constitutional economies and entitled to long-term mutual development.  In 1999 amendment, non-public economies were promoted to important constituents of socialist market economy.  By the fourth amendment in 2004, the CPC government was changing its role over the non-public economies from “guiding, supervising and managing” to “encouraging, supporting and guiding”.

The four amendments to the 1982 Constitution were economical rather than political.  Unsurprisingly, the upcoming amendment will have the National Supervisory Commission to be established as a superpower in law enforcement, about which you may read the article Chinese government may LIUZHI a suspect of wrongdoing.  It remains to see if the superpower will be more powerful than the courts and the procuratorates (which is the term of the Chinese-English translation of “prosecuting institutes”).

Licensed to practice law in China and the New York State of the USA., Henry Chen is a senior partner of Beijing Dacheng Law Offices, LLP (Shanghai) (AKA Dentons Shanghai Office).  Henry was the former AP Compliance Director of Ford Motor Company.  Henry is the author of Risk Management of Commercial Bribery in China.  Henry is available at

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