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596 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 Suisheng Zhao. Power by Design: Constitution-making in Nationalist China. Honolulu: University ofHawai'i Press, 1996. xii, 217 pp. Hardcover $37.00, isbn 0-8248-1721-4. Power by Design by Suisheng Zhao is both a political history and an analysis of the constitutional development of the early period of Guomindang (GMD) rule (1925-1937). The book contributes to a growing body ofhistorical literature on state-building in Republican China. In addition, it adds nuance to die study of constitutional designs in authoritarian settings. Zhao uses the early period of Guomindang rule to test a political science hypothesis observing that constitutional frameworks in authoritarian settings alternate between presidential and cabinet systems. He argues that this alternation is not the result of chance, but of conscious strategies by political leaders. Politicians in nondemocratic countries are not indifferent to the formal design ofgovernment institutions; their preferences for particular political institutions are rooted in their desire to maximize their power potential. Weaker politicians seek power by building coalitions and will therefore favor a cabinet system—where the coalition controls decision making. In contrast, stronger politicians advocate a presidential system through which they can single-handedly dominate decision making. The early period of GMD rule offers a good case to test Zhao's model, for several reasons. First, the government was alternately under the control of a cabinet and a president from its inception as a regional government in Canton through its ten-year period as a national government in Nanjing and beyond. Second, the GMD's style of government was authoritarian. The organic laws of the Canton and Nanjing regimes put the government under the direct control of the GMD's central governing bodies and explicitiy forbade the creation of alternative political parties or organizations. Furthermore, although Zhao's discussion of Sun Yat-senism could be fuller, he notes that the GMD's guiding political philosophy suggested a briefperiod of authoritarian rule. One-party rule was legitimized by Sun Yat-sen's concept ofpolitical tutelage, which held that the Chinese people would be guided toward a constitutional democracy under the GMD's leadership. During the period ofpolitical tutelage the GMD would be responsible for educating the masses in their rights and responsibilities under a democratic system. The authority of the GMD and its national government were challenged, however, from both inside and outside the party. Such challenges led to changes© 1997 by University in the leadership and structure of the government. The structural changes reofHawai 'i Pressfleeted the institutional preferences ofthose in power. In his study, Zhao evaluates the relative power and institutional preferences of four major GMD figures: Hu Hanmin, Sun Ke, Wang Jingwei, and Chiang Kai- Reviews 597 shek. He bases his evaluation ofthe relative power ofthese "major players" on three kinds ofpower resources; their formal positions within the GMD, their factional support, and their military capacity. The more ofthese resources a given leader has, Zhao argues, die greater his relative power will be. By these criteria— as indeed by any others—Chiang Kai-shek comes out on top after 1928 as head of die Nationalist Army as well as ofboth the GMD's major governing bodies—the Central Executive Council (CEC) and die Central Political Council (CPC)—and with extensive factional resources. In addition, Hu Hanmin, Wang Jingwei, and Sun Ke all lacked the military affiliations ofChiang. Ofthe four, Chiang Kai-shek was the only one to advocate the presidential system. At die moments when Chiang had adequate power to dominate both party and government, therefore, he oversaw the institutionalization ofthe presidential system through the rewriting ofthe organic law in 1928 and implementing the 1936 draft constitution. Before 1925, however, Chiang had not yet acquired extensive power resources within the party, and between 1931 and 1935 his party rivals—among whom were Hu, Wang, and Sun Ke—forced Chiang to yield up some ofhis power. During these periods, first under the organic laws ofthe Nationalist government from 1925 to 1928 and later under the provisional constitution of1931 to 1936, power was constitutionally placed in the hands of a cabinet. Between 1925 and 1928, die government was led by the National...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 596-598
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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