Scholars challenge constitution revamp

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 12:00am

Opposition is being voiced to the preparation of amendments to the Chinese constitution.

A committee led by Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress, will begin making the fourth amendment to the constitution, adopted in 1982. Proposals will be approved by the Politburo and sent to provincial Communist Party committees, ministries and the People's Liberation Army. Opinions will be sought from outside the party and from law experts.

Constitutional scholars are divided over the tinkering with the constitution, which was last amended barely four years ago. Some said its socialist framework, established in the early days of China's reform period, was a poor foundation on which to make improvements and would render any changes largely meaningless.

Others said that updating the constitution, however imperfect, would make it slightly more serviceable in a country undergoing rapid economic and social change.

Disagreements over giving constitutional protection to private property have sparked heated debate, with opponents, led by the so-called 'new left', arguing that the amendment would legitimise the right to property acquired by dubious means.

Constitutional scholars are also wary of the politicisation of the constitution. A proposal to enshrine in the constitution former president Jiang Zemin's 'Theory of the Three Representatives' is likely to receive strong backing in the committee, which is composed of Jiang proteges. The theory states the party represents advanced productive forces, advanced culture and the interests of the masses.

One scholar said: 'Putting the Theory of the Three Representatives in the constitution will make the constitution just another political document. It runs counter to making the constitution the basic law of the nation.'