The 1982 Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides the foundation for a nation governed by the rule of law rather than by Party fiat. It remains unclear whether and to what extent this ambitious Constitution will be implemented in practice. In her article, Professor Ainsworth asserts that the way in which Western scholars to date analyzed Chinese constitutions demonstrates the ethnocentric assumptions inherent in Western scholarship. Professor Ainsworth suggests that Chinese constitutional discourse needs to be understood in a Chinese context, requiring a historical study of the traditional Chinese exegetical methodology used in interpreting the Confucian Classics. This article compares the traditional Chinese hermeneutics with that of Judeo-Christian tradition and demonstrates how each textual tradition has affected constitutional discourse in its respective culture. Professor Ainsworth concludes that future constitutional discourse in China can only be understood with an awareness of the interpretive assumptions embedded within Chinese culture and cannot be expected to follow the pattern of constitutionalism in the West.
Interpreting Sacred Texts: Preliminary Reflections on Constitutional Discourse in China, 43 HASTINGS L.J. 273