History of Constitutional Revisions in the Republic of China
Constitution of the Republic of China (1947)
The ROC Constitution was adopted on December 25, 1946, by the National Constituent Assembly convened in Nanking. It was promulgated by the National Government on January 1, 1947, and put into effect on December 25 of the same year. In addition to the preamble, the Constitution comprises 175 articles in 14 chapters. In essence the Constitution embodies the ideal of "sovereignty of the people," guarantees human rights and freedoms, provides for a central government with five branches and a local self-government system, ensures a balanced division of powers between the central and local governments, and stipulates fundamental national policies.
Temporary Provisions Effective during the Period of the Communist Rebellion (1948)
In the face of the Chinese communist threat, the National Assembly on April 18, 1948, added to the Constitution a set of Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion. Promulgated by the National Government on May 10 of the same year, the Temporary Provisions which superseded the Constitution were designed to enhance presidential power during the emergency period of communist uprising. For example, the president may, during the period of Communist rebellion, take emergency measures to avert an imminent danger to the security of the nation or of the people, establish an organ for making major policy decisions concerned with national mobilization and suppression of the Communist rebellion, make adjustments in the administrative and personnel organs of the central government, and initiate regulations governing the elections for additional seats in the three parliamentary bodies. Besides, as stipulated in the Temporary Provisions, the president and the vice president may be re-elected without being subject to the two-term restriction prescribed in Article 47 of the Constitution.
Following a radically changed situation and reduced tension in the Taiwan Strait in the late 1980s, the National Assembly on April 22, 1991, resolved to abolish the Temporary Provisions with a view toward fostering the healthy development of constitutional democracy and enhancing social harmony and progress. On April 30 of the same year, President Lee Teng-hui announced that the Period of Communist Rebellion would be terminated on May 1.
First Revision (1991)
Adopted by the second extraordinary session of the First National Assembly on April 22, 1991, and promulgated by the president on May 1, 1991
Notwithstanding the termination of the Period of Communist Rebellion, some of the articles in the Constitution remain inapplicable to Taiwan. To meet the demands of constitutional rule, the First National Assembly, at its second extraordinary session in April 1991, adopted ten amendments to the Constitution. Promulgated by the president on May 1 of the same year, the highlights of these additional articles are: (1) to provide for regular elections for the Legislative Yuan and the National Assembly; (2) to authorize the president to issue emergency orders to avert imminent danger to the security of the nation or of the people; (3) to stipulate that rights and obligations between people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait may be specially regulated by law.
Second Revision (1992)
Adopted by the extraordinary session of the Second National Assembly on May 27, 1992, and promulgated by the president on May 28, 1992
After the Second National Assembly was elected in December 1991, it met for its first extraordinary session from March to May of the following year. On May 27, 1992, eight amendments were adopted by the session and promulgated by the president on May 28. The highlights of these additional articles are as follows: (1) when the National Assembly convenes, it may hear a report on the state of the nation by the president; (2) the president and the vice president shall be elected by the people in the free area of the Republic of China for, at most, two terms of four years each; (3) local self-government was granted a legal basis and the provincial governor and municipal mayors shall be elected by popular vote; (4) rather than being elected by the provincial and municipal councils, members of the Control Yuan--a watchdog body--shall be nominated and, with the consent of the National Assembly, appointed by the president, whereas the president, vice president and members of the Examination Yuan and the president and vice president of the Judicial Yuan, and its Grand Justices shall also be nominated and, with the consent of the National Assembly, appointed by the president; (5) expand fundamental national policies to promote culture, science and technology, environmental protection, and economic development and to safeguard the interests of women, aborigines, and the handicapped; and (6) the Grand Justices of the Judicial Yuan shall form a constitutional tribunal to adjudicate on the dissolution of political parties for constitutional violations.
Third Revision (1994)
Adopted by the fourth extraordinary session of the Second National Assembly on July 28, 1994, and promulgated by the president on August 1, 1994
In July 1994, during its fourth extraordinary session, the Second National Assembly adopted ten new amendments to replace the eighteen amendments of the First and Second Revisions. Promulgated by the president on August 1 of the same year, these ten articles stipulate, among others: (1) beginning with the Third National Assembly, the National Assembly shall have a speaker and a deputy speaker; (2) the president and vice president shall be elected by direct popular vote, but the recall of the president and the vice president shall be proposed by the National Assembly and such proposal shall be passed by more than half of all voters; and (3) presidential orders to appoint or remove from office personnel appointed with the confirmation of the National Assembly or Legislative Yuan in accordance with the Constitution do not require the counter-signature of the premier.
Fourth Revision (1997)
Adopted by the second session of the Third National Assembly on July 18, 1997, and promulgated by the president on July 21, 1997.
During its second session, the Third National Assembly adopted eleven new amendments in June and July of 1997 to replace the above-mentioned ten amendments. Promulgated by the president on July 21 of the same year, the most important stipulations are: (1) the president of the Executive Yuan shall be appointed by the president, requiring no consent of the Legislative Yuan; (2) the president may, within ten days following the passage by the Legislative Yuan of a no-confidence vote against the president of the Executive Yuan, declare the dissolution of the Legislative Yuan after consulting with its president; (3) the power to impeach the president or the vice president shall be transferred from the Control Yuan to the Legislative Yuan, and such action shall be initiated for high treason or rebellion only; (4) the Executive Yuan may request the Legislative Yuan to reconsider the passage of a bill that it deems difficult to execute; but, should more than one-half, rather than two-thirds, of the total number of Legislative Yuan members uphold the original passage of the bill, the president of the Executive Yuan shall immediately accept said bill; (5) the Legislative Yuan shall have 225 members starting with the Fourth Legislative Yuan; (6) beginning from the year 2003, the Judicial Yuan shall have 15 grand justices, including a president and a vice president of the Judicial Yuan. Each grand justice of the Judicial Yuan shall serve a term of eight years, independent of the order of appointment to office, and shall not serve a consecutive term; (7) the budget of the Judicial Yuan shall be independent, no longer requiring the approval of the Executive Yuan; (8) Taiwan provincial elections shall be suspended; Taiwan province shall have a provincial government and a provincial advisory council; the members of the provincial government, one of whom shall be the provincial governor, shall be nominated by the president of the Executive Yuan and appointed by the president of the Republic; (9) the State shall assist and protect the survival and development of small and medium enterprises; and (10) the requirement of minimum funding for education, science and culture shall be abolished.
Fifth Revision (1999)
Revised by the fourth session of the Third National Assembly on September 3, 1999, and promulgated by the president on September 15, 1999
The Council of Grand Justices, in its Constitutional Interpretation No. 499 on March 24, 2000, announced that the Additional Articles of the Constitution approved on September 15, 1999, were void, effective immediately. The revised Additional Articles promulgated on July 21, 1997 would remain in effect.
Sixth Revision (2000)
The revision of the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China was approved by the fifth session of the Third National Assembly on April 24, 2000, and promulgated by the president on April 25, 2000.
Source: Government Information Office, Republic of China