The policy orientations reflected in the fifth amendment to China’s constitution combine some elements of Maoism (an emphasis on ideology, the party, and personality cult); some of the constitutional formality of the Republican era (1912–1949), such as Sun Yat-sen’s Wuquan Xianfa (Five Powers Constitution); and some elements of the legal tradition of China’s imperial past. These policy orientations were justified by a Maoist philosophical voluntarism: the relative detachment between the “economic base” and the “superstructure” justified the persistence of the Chinese cultural tradition and the notion that political reform does not have to accompany economic reform. On those areas that do not represent an imminent threat to the regime, such as economics and law in general, the fifth amendment is purposely vague, to give the regime flexibility in policymaking.

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