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that the Qing regime should reform its old-fashioned cruel feudal legal system into
a modern civilized one, the conservative leader – the Empress Dowager – contritely
acknowledged the inabilit y of the old politics to meet the demands of the new
condition. In the decree issued in the name of Emperor Guangxu, the Dowager
claimed that ‘we should correct our shortcomings by adopting the best method
and systems obtained in foreign countries, basing our future conduct upon a wise
recognition of past errors.’2 China drafted its rst constitutional document in 1908 –
‘The Outline of Imperial-Made Constitution’3 – where the Japanese Meiji constitutional
model was adopted by Chinese authorities4 inspired by the fact that Meiji Japan
was the rst oriental state that had successfully adopted the western model of
government structure. Though the Outline of the Constitution was widely regarded
as a quasi-constitutional document that mainly reected the monarchy’s willingness
to maintain absolutist monarchic rulings as well as to limit the constitutional rights
of subjects, some liberal constitutional principles can still be perceived there.5 For
instance, the constitutional provision on separation of powers between the legislature
and the judiciary was one of its impressive achievements: the national parliament has
the exclusive power of law-making, while the judiciary had the capacity to determine
cases according to laws approved by the members of parliament. Moreover, the
Outline incorporated a series of basic constitutional rights: the liberty of freedom of
speech, right to property, the right to a fair trial and the rights to liberty, etc.6
The eort to build a constitutionalist state ruled by monarchy, however, was in
vain because the conservative Manchus were not willing to reform the Qing’s regime
into a more liberal state to satisfy the needs of the Revolutionary Party and showed
pale resistance to the political inter ference imposed by western imperialist states.
The radical advocacy for terminating feudal monarchy ruling by force proposed by
the Revolutionary Party gradually became the dominant consensus among Chinese
liberals.7 The leader of the revolutionaries, Sun Yatsen, called for China to become
a state modeled on the United States after the end of the Qing dynasty.8 The Qing’s
regime came to an end in 1911 when Qing’s Former Military General Yuan Shikai
peacefully forced the last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Pu Yi, to abdicate.9 On January 1,
2 Payson J. Treat, Constitution Making in China, 2 J. Race Dev. 147, 148 (1911).
3 Treat, supra n. 2, at 151. ‘The Outline imperial-made constitution’ was not equal to a constitution with
binding power, but it was merely progressive guide outline for Qing’s governmental operation.
4 Z. Xie, The Legislative History of Republic of China 34 (2000); Y. Yang, The Summary of Chinese Political
System History 323–25 (2001).
5 Chongde Xu, The Constitutional History of People’s Republic of China 7 (Fujian Remin Press 2005).
6 Xu, supra n. 5, at 7.
7 Albert P. Blaustein, The Inuence of United States Constitution Abroad, 12 Okla. City U.L. Rev. 435, 440 (1987).
8 See Y. Sun, Talking in Paris (from November 21 to 23, 1911), in The Complete Works of Sun Yatsen 563
(Y. Sun, ed.) (1981).
9 Y. Ma, From Constitutional Monarchy to Democracy Republican System, 3 Anhui History Study 22, 27 (2011).