For the next several issues the Journal of Chinese Lm (the “Journal”) will publish a series of articles growing out of the “Project on China and Constitutionalism” (the “Project”). The Project was organized during 1992-95 by the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights, the Chinese Legal Studies Center of Columbia Law School, and the East Asian Institute, with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy A major goal was to produce a series of papers to be discussed at seminars, workshops and conferences, a selection of which are to be published in the Symposium which begins with this issue (the “Symposium”).
The Project operated under a series of fruitful contradictions. For the organizers it was an intellectual enterprise, to explore issues relating to comparative constitutionalism by looking at the case of China; for many of the participants it was a practical exercise, to take advantage of the freedom and facilities of a foreign university to draft constitutional provisions intended to be put into effect in a future China. Whether scholars or activists, we were all in search of arguments that would make sense to Chinese people in light of their historic experiences and present needs and assumptions.