Journal Article

The composite state of China under “One Country, Multiple Systems”: Theoretical construction and methodological considerations

Guobin Zhu

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 10, issue 1, pages 272-297
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icon/mos005
The composite state of China under “One Country, Multiple Systems”: Theoretical construction and methodological considerations

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Under the formula of “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong and Macau were handed over to the People’s Republic of China to become two special administrative regions. Today, China has a total of thirty-three subnational units or constituencies: twenty-two provinces, four municipalities directly under the central government, five national autonomous regions and two special administrative regions. With the creation of special administrative region, the Chinese state has experienced a de facto structural change and, in my view, can no longer be characterized as a unitary state nor a federation. It is more accurate to identify and define China as a “composite state.” The concept of composite state, developed in this article, not only will come to terms theoretically with the newly formed relationship between central and regional/local authorities but will also rationalize how the vertical separation of power is institutionalized, how different degrees and forms of autonomy are designed to accommodate each locality’s needs, and what the salient features of each autonomous regime are. With special reference to the autonomy practiced by Hong Kong today, the article proposes this novel legal and political conception in hopes that it will be able to provide a theoretical paradigm and a sound constitutional framework which can serve as an original approach to such issues as Tibet and Xinjiang, and also to the question of national unity and reunification with Taiwan in the future.

Journal Article.  13011 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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