Abstract: Despite the resurgence of comparative constitutional law, there is little English-language literature that takes an explicitly comparative perspective on China’s Constitution or uses China as a comparator. This is because the study of comparative constitutional law usually focuses on a handful of high-prestige democracies or on the decisional output of courts engaged in judicial review, a feature absent in China. While China has in practice repudiated constitutionalism, we argue that it is a mistake to define the core concepts of constitution and constitutionalism in a manner that excludes China. Having summarized the state of Chinese constitutional law, highlighted options for defining constitutionalism, and explored the values in taking China seriously as an object of study, we conclude by nominating an additional function, that of constructive irritant, in the study of Chinese constitutionalism as generating a dialectical and critical discourse in the study of comparative constitutional law particularly for authoritarian regimes.
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