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A Confucian Constitutional Order

A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future

Jiang Qing
Daniel A. Bell
Ruiping Fan
Translated by Edmund Ryden
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    A Confucian Constitutional Order
    Book Description:

    As China continues to transform itself, many assume that the nation will eventually move beyond communism and adopt a Western-style democracy. But could China develop a unique form of government based on its own distinct traditions? Jiang Qing--China's most original, provocative, and controversial Confucian political thinker--says yes. In this book, he sets out a vision for a Confucian constitutional order that offers a compelling alternative to both the status quo in China and to a Western-style liberal democracy.A Confucian Constitutional Orderis the most detailed and systematic work on Confucian constitutionalism to date.

    Jiang argues against the democratic view that the consent of the people is the main source of political legitimacy. Instead, he presents a comprehensive way to achieve humane authority based on three sources of political legitimacy, and he derives and defends a proposal for a tricameral legislature that would best represent the Confucian political ideal. He also puts forward proposals for an institution that would curb the power of parliamentarians and for a symbolic monarch who would embody the historical and transgenerational identity of the state. In the latter section of the book, four leading liberal and socialist Chinese critics--Joseph Chan, Chenyang Li, Wang Shaoguang, and Bai Tongdong--critically evaluate Jiang's theories and Jiang gives detailed responses to their views.

    A Confucian Constitutional Orderprovides a new standard for evaluating political progress in China and enriches the dialogue of possibilities available to this rapidly evolving nation. This book will fascinate students and scholars of Chinese politics, and is essential reading for anyone concerned about China's political future.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4484-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Daniel A. Bell

    In 1912, Kang Youwei (1858–1927)—the most prominent political reformer of his day—founded the Confucian Religious Society. During China’s brief experiment with parliamentary debate in the newly established Republic of China, the society twice proposed institutionalizing Confucianism as the state religion but narrowly failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of the vote in the national assembly.¹ A century later, Jiang Qing (b. 1952)—the most prominent Confucian political thinker of our day—has revived Kang’s cause. Similar to Kang, Jiang argues that nothing less than an official embrace of Confucianism can save China from its moral and...

  5. Part I: A Confucian Constitutional Order

    • Chapter 1 The Way of the Humane Authority: The Theoretical Basis for Confucian Constitutionalism and a Tricameral Parliament
      (pp. 27-43)
      Jiang Qing

      The way ahead for China’s political development is the Way of the Humane Authority and not democracy.¹ This is the only way in which Chinese culture can respond to the challenge of Western culture. However, in recent years China’s political development has begun to go astray. Every current of political thought in China assumes that democracy is the way ahead for China. This goes without saying for liberal democracy’s Western-style “genuine democracy,” or for the pursuit of a “socialist democracy” by socialism that is supposed to differ from “capitalist democracy.” It even includes the neo-Confucians who exalt Chinese culture and...

    • Chapter 2 The Supervisory System of Confucian Constitutionalism: Reflections on the Supervision of the State by the Academy
      (pp. 44-70)
      Jiang Qing

      For the last hundred years, China’s political system has slipped into serious chaos and lack of order, attributable to the forceful invasion of the West and the collapse of the imperial system.¹ Within the country there have been continuous waves of political struggle, party struggle, and wars. People’s life and possessions have suffered severe losses; as the saying goes, “Businesses languished; it was hard to eke out a living.” Simultaneously many Chinese intellectuals, whether of the old or new school, sought to continue the moral ideal and religious zeal of the scholar-gentry who longed to save the people and strengthen...

    • Chapter 3 A Confucian Constitutionalist State: The Constitutional Role and Contemporary Significance of Republicanism under a Symbolic Monarch
      (pp. 71-96)
      Jiang Qing

      The special features of Confucian constitutionalism are the unique system of supervision, the parliament, and the type of state.¹ The type of the state is a republic under a symbolic monarch. Having already discussed the first two features, this chapter looks at the third.

      The first question to be addressed is what one means by types of state, which presupposes that we first understand what the state is itself. The Chinese term “body or essence of the state” refers to the basic character of the state that makes it different from all other forms of human organization.² The basic nature...

  6. Part II: Comments

    • Chapter 4 On the Legitimacy of Confucian Constitutionalism
      (pp. 99-112)
      Joseph Chan

      Confucianism began life more than twenty-five hundred hears ago.¹ What preoccupied Confucius and other classical thinkers was the decay of social norms and disintegration of orders in their times. However, these thinkers believed that the norms, rituals, and institutions developed in the Zhou dynasty had been fundamentally sound, and the problem was only that they lost grip on the corrupted elites who lacked ethical cultivation and discipline. In response, they developed a set of relatively abstract ideas such asren(benevolence, as commonly translated) andyi(righteousness), which, they hoped, could bring fresh insights and attractiveness into what was already...

    • Chapter 5 An Old Mandate for a New State: On Jiang Qing’s Political Confucianism
      (pp. 113-128)
      Bai Tongdong

      From the middle of nineteenth century on‚ under the attack of Western gunships and ideas, many Chinese intellectuals lost their confidence first in material things and the theories behind them that traditional China offered, and then in the traditional political structures; instead, they were convinced of the universality of Western science and democracy. The “radicals” among them even came to the belief that the traditional culture in China, in particular Confucianism, was in conflict with the culture underlying democracy. Thus, for democracy to take hold in China, traditional culture had to be eliminated. Contrary to this belief, the so-called...

    • Chapter 6 Transcendent Heaven? A Critique of Jiang Qing’s Grounding of the Right to Rule
      (pp. 129-138)
      Chenyang Li

      Among contemporary Confucians, Jiang stands out in several important ways.¹ Whereas most Confucian authors are interested in ethics, Jiang’s focus is primarily on political philosophy,an area of study eschewed by most Confucian thinkers for at least half a century. In contrast with the liberal wing of New Confucianism, Jiang’s conservative approach points unmistakably in the direction of restoration.² Unlike the majority of Confucian writers who are professors, focusing mostly on texts and scholarly publications, Jiang seeks to promote the reading of the classics in society in general. His position appears radical to many and even out of sync with the...

    • Chapter 7 Is the Way of the Humane Authority a Good Thing? An Assessment of Comfucian Constitutionalism
      (pp. 139-158)
      Wang Shaoguang

      Keping Yu’s phrase “Democracy is a good thing” is already well known at home and abroad, though not everyone who reflects on China’s future would necessarily agree.¹ In today’s China, Jiang Qing is somebody who is not afraid to stand alone and refuse to follow the herd. Jiang Qing may not have actually used those words, but he would surely agree that the politics of Way of the Humane Authority is a good thing.

      Over the past twenty years or so, Jiang has devoted himself to establishing the structure and theory of political Confucianism.² He started with a study of...

  7. Part III: Response to the Commentators

    • Chapter 8 Debating with My Critics
      (pp. 161-208)
      Jiang Qing

      In my bookPolitical Confucianism(Zhengzhi Ruxue) I outlined the idea of the politics of the Way of the Humane Authority. Seven years later I have developed the plan of Confucian constitutionalism on the basis of the Way of the Humane Authority. The Way of the Humane Authority touches on the political ideas of the state, while constitutionalism deals with the setup of the state. My ideas have drawn interest and criticism at home and abroad, largely from the perspective of liberalism and the new Left.

      From May 3 to May 5, 2010, Professors Fan Ruiping and Daniel A. Bell...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 209-240)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-248)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 249-250)
  11. Index
    (pp. 251-256)