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Socio-legal Study Of The Late Qing Dynasty Constitutionalism Failure

Posted on:2015-08-10Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:Y W PengFull Text:PDF
GTID:2296330431482521Subject:Science of Law
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The history of constitutionalism can be traced back to the failedattempt to establish constitutional monarchy towards the end of the QingDynasty. From a socio-legal perspective, this paper situates theaforementioned attempt in its historical context and delves into theundying reasons for its failure.In modern times, the introduction of Western Civilization broughtabout far-reaching changes in China unprecedented in the preceding threethousand years of history. Economically, individual-based privateownership of property began to take shape, signaling that the Chinesebegan to enjoy freedom in the economic sphere and greatly facilitatingthe development of national capitalist economy. Politically, local warlordsemerged rapidly in the wake of the Taiping Rebellion. These warlords,who had their own army, collected the tax revenue themselves, andappointed their own officials, did not take orders from the centralgovernment. Ideologically, the Chinese, awakened by the military defeatsand imposition of unequal treaties, began to realize the necessity ofpolitical reform modeled on the Western system. The economic,politically, ideological changes brought about by this realization sowedthe seeds for constitutionalism at the end of the Qing Dynasty.On27th, August,1908, the Qing government promulgated TheRoyally-authorized Constitutional Outline and specified a timetable ofnine years as the preparation period. However, events overtook the plan.Three years later, confronted with the turbulence in the wake of theChinese Revolution of1911, the Qing government cooked up TheNineteen Constitutional Articles in order to regain control of the situation.However, both attempts to institute a constitutional monarchy ended up in failure.So, why did the attempts to establish constitutional monarchy end upin failure? Firstly, textual analysis reveals that The Royally-authorizedConstitutional Outline was nothing but a pseudo constitution whichwould confer dictatorial powers on the monarch but no power at all onthe people. Although The Nineteen Constitutional Articles placedconstraints on the powers of the monarch, it was actually the last strawthe Qing government tried to clutch in the face of imminent danger ofbeing toppled. Actually, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown before thosearticles had any chance to be put into practice.Secondly, the process of establishing constitutional monarchy wasclosely intertwined with the specific social conditions at the end of theQing Dynasty. Analysis will be made again from the economic, politicaland ideological perspectives. From the economic perspective, the materialconditions needed for constitutional monarchy were not yet ripe despitethe rapid economic growth during the New Deal Period of the Late QingDynasty. The economic foundation of the country was far too weak. Fromthe political perspective, the increasing centrifugal tendency of areasunder control of the warlords was not curbed. Instead, the situationspiraled out of control and eventually resulted in the collapse of the QingDynasty. Ideologically, several factors contributed to the failure of theattempt to institute constitutional monarchy: the deep-seatedconservatism and collectivism formed over thousands of years; thenarrow nationalism formed under the rule of the hated Manchu rulers;and the inadequate understanding of what constituted constitution by allsocial strata in China at that time.
Keywords/Search Tags:the Late Qing Dynasty, constitutionalism, socio-legal, failure
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