Update 7/15: Between the Two Constitutions


The two major primary documents I located, transcribed, and translated during my archival visit in Beijing were two Chinese constitutions promulgated in 1908 and 1911. The juxtaposition of these codes corroborates China’s political progression in the 1900s, when the country witnessed a constitutionalist reform initiated by the late-Qing regime. Represented democracy and separation of power are the keynotes of the two constitutions. Though the constitutionalism and the corresponding political reform failed to preserve the late-Qing regime, the later Nationalist republic in China inherited the essence of the 1900s reform. At this moment, I’d like to temporarily set aside the longstanding historical significance and concentrate on these two documents alone.

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Update 7/10: Archival Trip to Beijing


Things happened, but I am back from Beijing.

The entrance into the China First Historical Archive in Beijing requires an application on arrival, which I did expect but was overly optimistic about. Unlike a visa on arrival, the application does not guarantee the permission of entry. Though seeing a reference letter from a Chinese professor (who does not supervise the project but is willing to validate my identity and research project, and wish to be anonymous), the archive’s receptionist immediately denied my entrance on the first day I arrived in Beijing. While presuming I might be admitted the day after submitting my application, I was notified on the next day that the review of application could take a week at most. When I waited for the application result, I have visited the Chinese National Library and National Museum and attended few historical seminars hosted by the Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. I received the entry permit from the archive’s administration on the fifth day in Beijing. The whole administrative impediment, except the requirement of a reference letter from a Chinese scholar, was not mentioned by the archive staff, who answered my phone call and inquiries before I set off.

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Update 6/13: Some Thoughts about the Outline and Some Questions to Answer

Research Update, 06/13


Tentative outline and thesis

The purpose of this research project is to analyze the significance of late-Qing constitutions, and to understand late-Qing constitutional movements’ political legacy. My tentative thesis suggests that the two constitutions published in early twentieth-century Qing China symbolized China’s political modernization, as China, for the first time, had a body of written fundamental laws to function as its constitution. The late-Qing constitutions are drastically different and much more progressive than Qing China’s earlier legal system constituted by the Qing Huidian. While the first version of late-Qing constitution, Principles of the Constitution, seemed a partial compromise to settle reform demands from the public, the latter Doctrines of the Constitution reflected late-Qing government’s resolve to launch reform. Doctrines of the Constitution, though failed to prevent Qing China’s downfall, facilitated the proliferation of a collective Chinese identity and sovereign unity, as the latter Republic of China’s constitution inherited the spirit of the late-Qing counterpart. The late-Qing constitution and constitutional movement reinforced China’s unity, as China in the early-twentieth century, though suffering chaos among regional warlords, remained as a nominally and constitutionally political unity.

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Update 3/20: Introduction to Summer Research Project

Dear all, I am thrilled to announce the commencement of my summer research project on early-twentieth-century Chinese constitutionalism. I wish you enjoyed the following introduction of my project and discussion of the topic’s historical significance.

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