Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(968 words)

All prerequisites for constitutionalism in its historical, European sense, as the limitation of the state through the separation of powers and the guarantee of human rights, were absent in early 20th-century China. Two constitutional drafts materialized at the central level during the last two years of the Qing dynasty that followed the model of the Japanese (Meiji) constitution. While the 1908 Principles of Constitution (xianfa da gang) was little more than a system of norms as safeguards against pre-constitutional, absolute imperial power, the 1911 Nineteen Articles (shijiu xin…

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Heuser, Robert, “Constitutionalism”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 27 September 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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