The 1982 Chinese Constitution appears on the surface to be enforceable in the courts. In theory, it requires the Chinese Communist Party to abide by the Constitution and the law (Gittings and Whitfort 11). It defines ownership of land in China (Article 10), and allows Special Administrative Regions to be established, which provides the legal authority for one country, two systems in Hong Kong and the enactment of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The constitution restores the principle that all citizens of the People's Republic of China are equal under the law, and stipulates extensive powers for the National People's Congress, including enforcement of the constitution.
Several amendments to the constitution have been made since it was adopted in 1982, including an amendment to Article 5, to which was added a reference to "ruling the country in accordance with the law and building a socialist rule of law (Gittings and Whitfort 12). In response to growing public anger at human rights abuses, Article 33 was amended to include the wording, "the state respects and safeguards human rights." Articles 67, 80 and 89 were amended to remove the provision for declaring martial law and replace these provisions with a wider power to declare a State of Emergency, which can be applied under a much broader set of circumstances such as diseases and natural disasters.
The goal of the 1982 Constitution was to turn China into a socialist country, where private ownership and all capitalist ventures are forbidden (Gittings and Whitfort 15). However, China acknowledges that private ownership and capitalism will exist during the early stages of the formation of a socialist country and this will take a long time. In this way they can justify allowing private ownership and capitalism to exist as long as it works to their advantage.
The Preamble to the constitution contains the Four Cardinal Principles which provid...