China’s Constitution: Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Ethnic Rights

I am not so interested in any country’s constitution, but I make an exception for China. China has laws on its books but seemingly then acts against these laws. This is untrue. Laws in China are meant to protect the CCP and should be interpreted differently than Western laws. While there are laws on China’s books, they are loosely enforced, allowing for interpretation by local governments.

第一章 总纲

第四条 中华人民共和国各民族一律平等。国家保障各少数民族的合法的权利和利益,维护和发展各民族的平等团结互助和谐关系。禁止对任何民族的歧视和压迫,禁止破坏民族团结和制造民族分裂的行为。




Constitution of the People’s Republic of China
Chapter I
General Principles

Article 4 All ethnic groups of the People’s Republic of China are equal. The state shall protect the lawful rights and interests of all ethnic minorities and uphold and promote relations of equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony among all ethnic groups. Discrimination against and oppression of any ethnic group are prohibited; any act that undermines the unity of ethnic groups or creates divisions among them is prohibited.

The state shall, in light of the characteristics and needs of all ethnic minorities, assist all ethnic minority areas in accelerating their economic and cultural development.

All areas inhabited by ethnic minorities shall practice regional autonomy, establish autonomous organs, and exercise the power to self-govern. All ethnic autonomous areas are inseparable parts of the People’s Republic of China.

All ethnic groups shall have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own traditions and customs.

第二十八条 国家维护社会秩序,镇压叛国和其他危害国家安全的犯罪活动,制裁危害社会治安、破坏社会主义经济和其他犯罪的活动,惩办和改造犯罪分子。 Article 28 The state shall maintain public order, suppress treason and other criminal activities that jeopardize national security, punish criminal activities, including those that endanger public security or harm the socialist economy, and punish and reform criminals.
第二章 公民的基本权利和义务
第三十五条 中华人民共和国公民有言论、出版、集会、结社、游行、示威的自由。

第三十六条 中华人民共和国公民有宗教信仰自由。




Chapter II
Fundamental Rights and Obligations of Citizens
Article 35 Citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, procession and demonstration.

Article 36 Citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of religious belief.

No state organ, social organization or individual shall coerce citizens to believe in or not to believe in any religion, nor shall they discriminate against citizens who believe in or do not believe in any religion.

The state shall protect normal religious activities. No one shall use religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the state’s education system.

Religious groups and religious affairs shall not be subject to control by foreign forces.

第四十一条 中华人民共和国公民对于任何国家机关和国家工作人员,有提出批评和建议的权利;对于任何国家机关和国家工作人员的违法失职行为,有向有关国家机关提出申诉、控告或者检举的权利,但是不得捏造或者歪曲事实进行诬告陷害。



Article 41 Citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or state employee, and have the right to file with relevant state organs complaints, charges or reports against any state organ or state employee for violations of the law or dereliction of duty, but they shall not fabricate or distort facts to make false accusations.

The state organ concerned must ascertain the facts concerning the complaints, charges or reports made by citizens and take responsibility for their handling. No one shall suppress such complaints, charges or reports or take retaliatory action.

Persons who have suffered losses resulting from infringement of their civil rights by any state organ or state employee shall have the right to receive compensation in accordance with the provisions of law.

第四十九条 婚姻、家庭、母亲和儿童受国家的保护。




Article 49 Marriage, families, mothers and children shall be protected by the state.

Both husband and wife shall have the obligation to practice family planning.

Parents shall have the obligation to raise and educate their minor children; adult children shall have the obligation to support and assist their parents.

Infringement of the freedom of marriage is prohibited; mistreatment of senior citizens, women and children is prohibited.

第五十一条 中华人民共和国公民在行使自由和权利的时候,不得损害国家的、社会的、集体的利益和其他公民的合法的自由和权利。 Article 51 When exercising their freedoms and rights, citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall not undermine the interests of the state, society or collectives, or infringe upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.

There are numerous citings of national security, society and interests. These are all nice and very similar to other constitutions, but their implementation in China allows the CCP, in accordance to Chinese law, to interpret their laws to favour the CCP.

Ethnic rights, family planning, freedom of speech, freedom of religion are all guaranteed under the Chinese constitution, but can and do take a back seat to Article 51 and “shall not undermine the interests of the state, society or collectives”, which means the ruling party, the CCP, has more than sufficient legal power to put itself before its people.

第一百三十条 人民法院审理案件,除法律规定的特别情况外,一律公开进行。被告人有权获得辩护。

第一百三十一条 人民法院依照法律规定独立行使审判权,不受行政机关、社会团体和个人的干涉。

Article 130 Except in special circumstances as prescribed by law, all cases in the people’s courts shall be tried in public. The accused shall have the right to defense.

Article 131 The people’s courts shall, in accordance with the provisions of law, independently exercise adjudicatory power, and shall not be subject to interference from any administrative organ, social organization or individual.

It is difficult to extrapolate published public experiences, but a lot of court cases in China are not open to the public, or even to family members. The accused often cannot choose their own defense lawyer, nor defend themselves. Some charged in China have been lawyers themselves and were denied.

There is more to law than just a piece of written paper. The law needs to be enforced in an unbiased way, and not under the control of a single legal entity. China’s constitution is an interesting read when you consider how they treat their own citizens in specific situations. I urge you to research this document further.

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