East Asian Studies
The China Journal
This article is the first detailed exposition of the 'National Discussion of the Draft Constitution'. In mid-1954, Chinese engaged in a wide-ranging deliberation about political and social rights, the obligations of citizenship, state symbols, political institutions and ideology. Many asked penetrating and frequently prescient questions about law, citizenship, class and political power, and offered provocative suggestions for revision. Using archives and intra-Party publications, we argue that, for citizens, the constitutional discussion constituted the earliest national-level, semi-public exposé and critique of the entirety of CCP governing practices—a 'dress rehearsal' for the 1956 Hundred Flowers Movement. For officials, the constitutional discussion provided an opportunity to deploy the coercive language of 'state law' to overcome resistance to collectivization, and a tactic to deal with 'unruly' citizens. We further suggest that the 1954 discussion set the terms of broad-based, but ultimately limited, constitutional critique from the 1950s until the present.
Diamant, Neil J., and Xiaocai Feng. "The PRC’s First National Critique: The 1954 Campaign to 'Discuss the Draft Constitution.'" The China Journal 73, no.1 (2015): 1-37.