Popular Constitutionalism and the Constitutional Meaning of Charter 08

Michael W. Dowdle

in Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9789888139064
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9789882209732 | DOI:
Popular Constitutionalism and the Constitutional Meaning of Charter 08

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This chapter places Charter 08 in the comparative and historical context of popular constitutionalism. Popular constitutionalism appeals to the understanding of generations of people who make use of, and give meaning to, the constitutional text. It also speaks to the tension and dialogue between the popular and official components in the constitutional development. Putting it in the Chinese context, this chapter traces the growth of popular constitutionalism from the trial of the Gang of Four, the creeping Parliamentarianism, and public litigation and petition. Significantly, popular constitutionalism continues to evolve and develop in the form of online and offline citizen activism even though it is facing the post-2005 crackdown. Charter 08 is part of the evolving popular constitutionalism in China and its significance lies in its ability to broaden and free the epistemological space.

Keywords: Charter 08; Liu Xiaobo; Human rights; China; Constititutionalism; Political reform; Popular movements

Chapter.  8559 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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