Toronto Metropolitan University

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Contesting the Right to Law: Courts and Constitutionalism in India and China

posted on 2024-03-07, 21:07 authored by Sanjay RupareliaSanjay Ruparelia

[para. 1]: “Since the 1980s, the People’s Republic of China has witnessed a massive concerted effort to introduce fazhi (rule by law), as set out in the 1982 Constitution. A significant justification for the shift was the need to enhance “citizens’ right to legal justice” (gongmin de hefaquanyi) (Lee 2010b, 50, 57). The Chinese Communist Party proceeded to unveil a series of legislation through the 1990s that proclaimed various rights of citizens, encompassing new procedures for civil affairs as well as laws to protect consumer rights. Indeed, by the end of the de cade, the PRC had signed the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), ratifying the latter several years later. Interestingly, the passage of these various laws coincided with a growing tide of social activism (shehui huodongjia) demanding civic rights and basic entitlements, ranging from subsistence and labor to property, work, and land, codified in the new legal regime (Lee and Hsing 2010, 2). A variety of actors, from “barefoot lawyers” in the countryside and public attorneys in the cities to “rights defense” (weiquan) activists, mobilized the law to press various claims (Alford 1995; Fu and Cullen 2008; Xing 2004). The meaning and ramifications of these laws, and aim and character of the campaigns and movements associated with their emergence, inspire much debate. Some observers perceive incipient demands for greater civil liberty and political freedom, heralding a demand for liberal capitalist democracy (Gilley 2004; Goldman 2005; Liu 2006; He 2012).”




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