Skip to main content


From Constitutionalisation to Revolution: The Politics of "Fa-Tong" and the Disenchantment of Constitutionalism in China, 1912-1925

University of Exeter College of Humanities is pleased to announce the new “Chinese Studies Seminar Series” (CSSS). Recognising the university’s growing intellectual and strategic interests in China, CSSS serves to be a platform for inter-disciplinary dialogues. As a forum, it invites colleagues from all subjects areas within University of Exeter and beyond, to conduct discussions on China-related issues.

Event details

China’s 1911 revolution brought this land the first republic in Asia. In 1912, the new republic made her first provisional constitution based on a temporary elite consensus, and was trying to creating a formal constitution in the following decade. Between 1912 and 1925, major political conflicts in China centred on “Fa-Tong,” which suggested the legal foundation of the exclusive legitimacy of a government. “Fa-Tong” was symbolized by the constitutional code and the specific congress who drafted the constitution. While “Fa-Tong” was appropriated as the pretext for political struggles, or even revolutions, the new republic never successfully overcame realpolitik and constitutionalized her everyday politics. The expanding distance between the real political process and its constitutional mask eventually led to the disenchantment and dissolution of constitutionalism. In the 1920s, “revolution” gradually superseded “Fa-Tong” as the central catchword of Chinese politics. Without understanding China’s failed efforts to constitutionalize everyday politics in the early Republican period, it would be difficult to make sense of the following age of great revolution.


Queens Building M