The Global Implications of China’s Dual State Revival

Eva Pils

King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

In this paper, I address the evolution of China’s constitutional order in Xi Jinping’s ‘New Era,’ drawing on Fraenkel’s theory of the Dual State and discussing the implications of selected domestic developments, including the revisions of the Constitution, the crackdown on civil society, and the crackdown on ethnoreligious minorities in Xinjiang. I argue, first, that the norms, rhetoric and actions the Chinese Party-State has deployed under Xi Jinping bear the marks of a dual state, a system that combines legal reforms and a limited commitment to law-based governance with practices of lawlessness and arbitrariness, and that is marred by the incoherence of merely conditional subjection of public power to the law. Second, China is contributing to dual state formation at the global level, at which the corrosion of public international law standards and transnational practices of lawlessness by governments including that of China combine to threaten international rule of law.


Eva Pils is Professor of Law at King’s College London. She studied law, philosophy and sinology in Heidelberg, London and Beijing and holds a PhD in law from University College London. Her most recent book is titled “Human rights in China: a social practice in the shadows of authoritarianism.”



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