Wang Shuwen, male and from the Han nationality, born in March 1927, is a native of Qingshen, Sichuan Province and a member of the Communist Party of China. In August 1957, he graduated from the Law School of Romonosov Moscow State University and achieved the degree of Bachelor of Law. In 1988, he was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Law by Ritsumeikan University. He is currently a researcher and PhD student advisor of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He has served as director of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, director of the academic committee, member of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council, Vice-President of the China Law Society, secretary-general of the Institute of China’s Constitutional Law Study, Executive Secretary and Director of the International Association of Constitutional Law, member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, Vice-Director of the Law Committee, member of the drafting committee for the Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macao, and Dean of the Law School of Tsinghua University. On the 24th of November 2006 he died of an illness.
Major Academic Works:
Constitution, the General Rules of Managing State Affairs, General Public Publishing Press, 1987
Introduction of Basic Laws of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region (chief editor and writer), CPC Central Party School Publishing Press, 2006
On the supreme efficacy of the Constitution, in Chinese Journal of Law, 1981.1
National People’s Congress System as our fundamental political system, in Hongqi (the red flag), 1982.10
The fundamental rights and duties for Chinese citizens, Hongqi (the red flag), 1982.14
New constitution as the general rule of managing state affairs in the new stage, in Hongqi (the red flag), 1983, 1
The importance of studying foreign laws in view of the reinforcement of the New Constitution, in Studies on Foreign Laws, 1983.5
On constitution and spiritual civilization, in Chinese Journal of Law, 1984.2
The preliminary stage of Socialism and Constitution—— as a commemoration to the Fifth Anniversary of the Current Constitution, in Chinese Journal of Law, 1988,1
On some cognitive matters of implementing the Constitution, in Journal of the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Science, 1988.5
The basic law as the National Law embodying “One Country, Two Systems”, in Chinese Journal of Law, 1990, 2
Ensuring the implementation of Constitution, in Chinese Law, 1992, 6
The general rules of advancing reform and opening-up, in People’s Daily, 1992, 12, 8
The fundamental spirit, characteristics and significance of Amendments of the Constitution, in Seeking Truth, 1993, 12
Establishing SAR as an important national policy, in People’s Daily, 1996, 7, 19
Learning Deng Xiaoping’s theory on Constitution: a scientific guideline to the Constitutional Theory, in Law Review of Tsinghua University, 1998, 1
Long Live His Spirit: Open and everlasting
Nie Xiushi (Nie for short below): Mr. Mo, since you are one of the closest students of Mr. Wang Shuwen, why did you choose to be his student, and what appealed to you about him?
Mo Jihong (Mo for short below): The first time I came to know Mr. Wang Shuwen was when I studied at the Law School in Peking University. Back then, I happened to come across one of his academic papers entitled “On the supreme efficacy of the Constitution” published in the Chinese Journal of Law. A strong sense of admiration arose from deep inside me as I was deeply touched by his solid logic, plain language yet penetrating arguments. Therefore when it came to applying for a master’s program, I chose unwaveringly the Research Center of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as I heard that Mr. Wang was planning to enroll three graduates, though I was then very much drawn to the criminal legal system. To be honest, I also had some ulterior reasons for making such a decision. Firstly, since Mr. Wang was about to enroll three students at a time, the chances for me to get enrolled were bigger. Besides, it was very hard to get enrolled by the research center at that time and I knew that if I made it, I would be admired by my classmates. I remember that when I attended a lecture on Administrative Law, Mr. Luo Haocai asked me which graduate school I applied for, and he showed signs of regrets and appraisal when I told him that I wanted to be a student of Mr. Wang Shuwen, for which I took pride in. I was enrolled by the research center as I expected.
Nie: Based on your twenty years’ academic experience under the supervision of Mr. Wang Shuwen, what do you think of his character and his academic research?
Mo: I personally think Mr. Wang Shuwen is quite frank, honest, sincere and self-disciplined. In terms of academic research, he is meticulous, down-to-earth, discreet and scrupulous. What impressed me most was that Mr. Wang showed great concern for my learning style, especially during the period when I was doing my thesis. I could never forget Mr. Wang’s meticulous attitude towards conducting research.
At that time, I was susceptible to the social trends and would follow the suits, talk nonsense, think wildly without considering the real situation and tend to establish systems on a random basis starting from macro strategy and philosophical perspectives, with new ideas popping out but a lack of positivism. Therefore, when I started to choose my research topic, I always wanted to do something to amaze the world, wishing my master’s thesis to become famous overnight. At that time, when everybody was talking about reform, taking reform as something fashionable, I came up with a visionary and grandiose subject---- On the Reform Policy of Chinese Constitution----with which I was very content. Based on my scattered knowledge that I had got through years of study in the institute, I made a voluminous outline and then just waited for Mr. Wang’s praise. However, against my expectations, I didn’t get Mr. Wang’s response for two weeks after submitting my outline, while my other senior and junior fellows had already been requested to meet Mr. Wang. I fidgeted in my room all day, wondering what was awaiting me, a blessing or a disaster. It took a while for Mr. Wang to ask my junior and senior fellows to spread the word to me that he wanted to talk to me. However, he didn’t mention that he wanted to talk about the outline of my thesis, by which I was greatly disturbed. As I expected, the day I walked into his office, I felt the atmosphere was not right. Mr. Wang didn’t even look at me and was busy with his work. I waited for a long time but Mr. Wang didn’t say anything. Sitting on the sofa, I was puzzled and nervous, feeling like there was a little cat scratching my heart. Nevertheless, I still imagined that Mr. Wang would be happy to find out my talent after reading my outline. But as there was not even a trace of a smile on his face, I didn’t think that would be possible. Relying on my experience of studying in the institute, I thought secretly that there were no careless mistakes in my outline, and even if there were some, I would convince him to accept my views and creativity with my witty conversation. After a moment of silence, Mr. Wang said, “Mo, you haven’t been studying hard these years, have you?” I would have admitted it if Mr. Wang had said anything else, but he treated me unjustly saying that I hadn’t studied hard. I was well-known for my diligence within the institute and I was close to the top in each course. How could he get such an impression on me? I just thought that I was all washed up and really couldn’t figure out what Mr. Wang had up in his sleeve. I heartily rejected Mr. Wang’s words and just became incoherent to stall him. “Eh, Mr. Wang, I read some books, but not too much.” On hearing that, Mr. Wang looked a little sulky and said to me thoughtfully, “Your outline is too showy and not substantial. You should learn from your classmates and read some of the previous papers. There should be some content instead of meaningless talk in your paper. You should make your points on facts and do what you can do. Go back and rewrite your outline.” Finishing these words, Mr. Wang lowered his head to deal with his own business. With my face flushing red with awkwardness, I forgot my entire quibble and couldn’t move with heavy feet. With a low and hoarse voice, I said: “Mr. Wang, I’ll return to rewrite my outline.” Then I hurried and got out of his office.
On my way back, I felt distressed and wronged as Mr. Wang had returned my favorite work without even making any comments and hadn’t given me any chance to explain. Back in the dormitory, I looked over my outline but still couldn’t find any mistakes, and then I felt at a loss and puzzled. In the following month, many classmates’ outlines had been approved and some classmates had even finished their theses. Instead, I fell into a predicament in writing my thesis because I hadn’t got any instruction from my supervisor, which made me worried. I had no choice but to turn to the senior fellows to learn from their theses. I very delighted to find that their topics actually dwelled on small issues with no in-depth exploration, but mainly with quotations. Such theses can be done quickly as long as enough information has been gathered. This was nothing like my outline, which took me strenuous efforts and which I thought would produce an astounding influence. As a matter of fact, I was reaching for what was beyond my capacity. I had to give up on my previous topic, though it took me a long time. In spite of my unwillingness, I abandoned it no matter how painful it was. Then I chose a topic---Research on The System of Delegation ---for which there was a lot of material to consult. Following the pattern of other classmates’ essays, I drew out my outline quickly and made a clear and concise list of chapters as well as the relevant references, and then submitted it to Mr. Wang. After submitting the outline, I was not as excited this time and felt at ease. I just thought that Mr. Wang would praise me. Although the topic of my essay was too flat and could not produce a sensational effect, there would be no difficulty for it to be approved.
Just as I thought, Mr. Wang phoned the teacher of the department and asked him to tell me to write my thesis solidly. As soon as the teacher passed on the message to me, I was overwhelmed with joy. Mr. Wang hadn’t stated any objection to my outline, which meant I had found the right way. For safety’s sake, I spent two weeks in the library to look up all the material that I could find and spent one week finishing my 30 thousand word thesis. When I submitted my essay to Mr. Wang, he didn’t say any other words and just asked me to take part in the thesis defense. I remembered that during the defense Mr. Wang said the following: “Mo explains his views clearly in his thesis which has clear levels and abundant materials, and his thesis meets the standard of the thesis of master’s degree.” Compared with the embarrassing situation when I reported my outline in Mr. Wang’s office, I felt quite comfortable this time even though there was not much commendation. Through this, we can see that Mr. Wang truly took good care of his students, and neither showed his love for them nor was too anxious for them to improve. Mr. Wang didn’t want his students to become people who aimed too high and talked boastfully, but people who worked in a down-to-earth way and performed actual deeds. There was no clear sign of love when Mr. Wang cared about others, which is what true love is. During the twenty years’ of study under Mr. Wang, I have never seen Mr. Wang being artificial or adopting a sentimental pose to remember or think over something. He was always in a tranquil frame of mind and never boasted about himself.
Nie: I know that you worked in the Politics Institute after you graduated, so why did you come back to pursue a doctoral degree under Mr. Wang in the Law Institute?
Mo: After graduating, I went to the Politics Institute with Mr. Wu Daying, who I benefitted from and I would never forget in my whole life. When I returned from Shaanxi at the end of 1990, I just came to a crossroad in my life. Though politics was developing well at that time, I was determined to pursue my doctorate when I realized that I had little learning. I talked to Mr. Wu about my intentions, and he understood me and supported me to study in the Law Institute. Then I expressed my idea to Mr. Wang who was delighted to hear it. I was accepted as a doctoral candidate as I wished after half a year, and was lucky to study again under Mr. Wu. It was different this time as Mr. Wu had left the Law Institute for the China Law Society, but he had attachments to the Law Institute. No matter what he did, Mr. Wu was very concentrated on it and did it by himself. He never asked us to write an essay for him and exerted an invisible influence on us with his diligence. During the time when I pursued my doctorate under Mr. Wang, he was very enthusiastic about my career. Since 1991, I had taken part in academic activities related to the constitution held by the China Law Society, with Mr. Wang who was very strict with us and had great expectations of us. I remember that each time it came to the academic seminar, he would ask us to be in charge of sorting out material and summing up, and he also revised it by himself so that we would imperceptibly have a good understanding of academic research on the constitution. I took a lesson from writing my master’s thesis last time, when I began to write my doctoral thesis and chose a safe topic --- On the Constitution Explanation. I had worked hard on seeking information beforehand, and besides, I studied this topic generally; Mr. Wang didn’t have much objection to my outline and thesis defense. He suggested that I should improve the quality of my thesis and try to get an overall picture of this topic to become a specialist in this field. Thanks to Mr. Wang, my doctoral thesis was awarded the excellent thesis title, which flattered my vanity.
Nie: Based on your experience of studying with Mr. Wang Shuwen, could you tell me what you think of his scholarship?
Mo: Mr. Wang was always strict with our study and research. When I first admitted to the institute as a postgraduate, Mr. Wang was head of the Law Institute and was busy with his work all day; we students were in veneration and trepidation and were afraid to interrupt him as to our wishes. As I had seen him once when I took part in the reexamination, maybe he had an impression of me; so I didn’t decline to ask Mr. Wang the time of the classes when my classmates encouraged me to ask him. Waiting for a few days, I approached him.
Although he was busy dealing with his work, he was very patient in listening to me as I reported my study incoherently. Just before I left, Mr. Wang said, “Mo, study the constitution, one should read the original works of Marxism conscientiously.” I just nodded regardless of whether I had understood him.
Mr. Wang taught us the constitution every Friday at the time. In his classes, he broadened these inexperienced students’ minds. Contrasted to those who just repeat what the book says in college, Mr. Wang could speak unceasingly and explain historical cases and real cases in simple terms, as well as quote the classics. We were so absorbed that we usually weren’t aware of the passing of the two-hour lesson. We were happy to have this teacher, as we exchanged our perceptions on the way to the dormitories and regarded him with great respect. Although we admired him, we were still nervous in terms of talking with Mr. Wang. We were afraid of being in an awkward position if he knew that we didn’t read his books hard. Actually, we sensed right.
Mr. Wang was seriously ill in his later years so he asked me to deal with some of his work. The deeper I contacted with him, the more I found that he was also sincere. People didn’t need to set up defenses, but just open their heart to treat him sincerely when getting along with him, because he had an unequivocal attitude towards them. He formed his character of being independent, and he never troubled us so that we didn’t play ghost with him. Once he was determined to do something, he would not stop until he finished it. His consistent devotion to his career made us feel deeply ashamed. Mr. Wang was a fair man fair who never harmed others to benefit himself, and made a clear distinction between public and private interests as well as considering what he did as a whole. Because of his upright and impartial character, he suffered setbacks and hardships in his daily life. In his lifetime, Mr. Wang hadn’t ever advanced his students’ interests, but encouraged us to achieved our social state and realize ourselves through our own real ability and learning. He wasn’t someone who kept out of harm by discretion, but always helped us when it came to the crunch. I think my classmate Mr. Chen Ruihong would agree with me on that. There are also some classmates who received Wang’s help.
Nie: I heard that you were helping sort out his life’s works and preparing to publish the Collected Works of Wang shuwen before Mr. Wang passed away. Why did you do that and what did Mr. Wang think of that?
Mo: Firstly, I’d like to mention that this year is the 80th anniversary of his birth. Mr. Wang Shuwen devoted his life to research on the constitution, and was the pioneer and founder of the new Chinese constitution; his academic ideas reflected the clue of the development of the new Chinese constitution theory. So it would be of significance to push forward the cause of constitution theory research in our country. Based on these considerations and getting Wang’s agreement, I got down to publishing this collection. Mr. Wang was also concentrated on this work and examined all the articles. Regrettably, he didn’t see his articles published until his death. I often met him at the end of his last year to prepare the collection of his works. I was supposed to meet two young men to sign a contract on the 24th of November 2006, but I went to Tianjin for some reason. Before arriving in Tianjin, I got the bad news from Zhou Hanhua that Mr. Wang had passed away. I just couldn’t believe it, for I had drunk my fill with him one week previously, and Mr. Wang had said: “the person who understands me best is you.” I didn’t expect that gathering meant parting forever. With no sign, it was just so sad. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t catch the memorial meeting and all I could do was pray for him from afar. My classmates, Wu Xinping, Zhou Hanhua and Chen Ruihong wrote memorial articles on the website of the Law Institute. These articles were so mournful that they even moved outsiders.
There was one thing that moved me very much. For composing his law collected works, he insisted on writing another essay on One Country, Two Systems and Harmonious Society. On the evening of the day before he died, he still bent his head over the table to write. But he was not able to finish this article, which became his eternal regret.
It has been more than 9 months since Mr. Wang passed away. Each time I read his articles, I haven’t been able to calm down in the past 9 months. Being a scholar and an educator, Mr. Wang was very successful. He was a mirror of others, and a person who made great achievements at an ordinary post and never became arrogant because of these achievements. Mr. Wang treated people honestly; he was like a melodious pastoral and an altar lamp that burns day and night in our hearts. He was simple and honest, headstrong, assiduous and strived to make progress. All these are the source of our spirit and strength.
Nie: Professor Chen, I heard that you published a memorial text called The First Snow in 2006 on the website of the Law Institute after Mr. Wang’s death. You expressed your appreciation with genuine affection and sincere concern. Could you talk about your feeling when you wrote this memorial text?
Chen Duanhong : I remember it was the evening of the 24th of November 2006. I was about to turn off my phone before sleeping, and I found a new message from Mo Jihong.
I opened it in an offhand way and it read, “Mr. Wang has passed away.” I called back at once but he didn’t answer; maybe it was too late. I didn’t call again and turned off my phone.
I sat in a chair alone in a trance as regret and sadness filled in my heart. I always think of Mr. Wang in my heart these days and want to see him. I had this intention every year, but I just visited him in his living place in 1999, and I didn’t see him since 2000 when I returned from abroad. I heard that he had moved to a far place, so I didn’t visit him. I was told that he was ill, and then I called Mo Jihong and asked for Mr. Wang’s new address and telephone number. When I said that I was planning to visit Mr. Wang, Mo told me that I’d better wait for some days because Mr. Wang didn’t want to see anybody and wanted to rest. So I just waited, waited without a time limit and I had no chance to visit him ever again.
During these years, I only saw Mr. Wang one time in a seminar held by the Law Institute. He left without issuing a speech. He was supported by someone in his shaky walk. I rushed to greet him and had no time to talk with him. That was the last time that I saw him.
I asked myself again and again, “Why didn’t I go to visit Mr. Wang in the past five years?” “I had the intention of visiting him, didn’t I?” I don’t like to associate with others, especially visiting others in their houses, and that’s my habit. I don’t like to attach importance to proprieties, and don’t hold birthday parties for myself or others (I just go through the motions for children’s birthdays). I mostly don’t congratulate others when it comes to the Spring Festival or other festivals; I make a point of not congratulate those who have both position and power (except for my friends). Though I have these bad habits, I can’t excuse myself for these reasons. Mr. Wang had been ill for 5 or 6 years, and he didn’t have position and power anymore. Is it because Mr. Wang treated me badly? Following my conscience; I can say that Mr. Wang treated me in the best way during my study in school. He had given me classes of Hong Kong Fundamental Law eight times (although Cao Dieyun had these classes with me, he was the student of Wu Daying and senior to me). According to the rules of the Law Institute, he didn’t have any obligation to give me these classes. We had these classes in different places. Sometimes we were in the Law Institute; sometimes we were in the place where he had meeting, and he found time to give me classes; sometimes we were in his home. During the days in school, I went to his home to have dinner with my girlfriend (who now is my wife), and he was modest and unassuming. In 1992, for supporting me to go to Shan Dong to join in the yearly conference, he drew money from his fee for doing a subject, to reimburse my travelling expenses. He also helped me for my job. After graduating, I didn’t keep in touch with him. But he didn’t blame me when I went to visit him with my wife in 1999 before going abroad, and he was still warm and friendly. Then is it because Mr. Wang was out of power that I didn’t go to visit him? No, this is not the reason; I am not the kind of man who plays up to the powerful. Rather than fawn on those who have power, I like to sympathize with those who are out of power. My wife blamed me, “you are lazy, and you just speak but don’t take action.” Laziness has made me miss the chance to do a lot of things. Because of laziness, I accomplish nothing. The less I accomplished, the more I felt ashamed to face him. I can’t make up for this loss ever again.
Honestly, I am the first one who doesn’t follow the correct path in terms of academic research. You can’t say I fall into the evil ways, but can say I follow an unordinary path. In terms of living a life, I don’t take Mr. Wang as an example and I am still a non-party man now. Though I respect his academic ability and his behavior, I take my own course, which created the mental distance between him and me. At first, I planed to choose constitutional government as my topic of my doctoral dissertation. So I submitted an article about it to Mr. Wang, and wanted to know if I was qualified to do research on it. Then he asked me to his home on purpose, and criticized me quite seriously. I remember that he went back and forth at home, and he was too angry to say anything. He pointed at me and said, “Do you think you can be the Montesquieu of China?” In the end I accepted his suggestion, and changed my topic to local legislation. I finished reluctantly and didn’t want to write one more word. I didn’t resign myself to the returning of my original article, and sent it to Comparative Study secretly. In the end my contribution was used; I had given up my plan to do research on constitutional government, though. Mr. Wang was strict with me about choosing a subject, but he had no bias against me and helped me a lot when my thesis was examined and when I defended my thesis as well as when I found a job.
Searching my heart, I think that maybe that event subconsciously caused the gap between the others and me . And the gap was deepened because my job was not as good as I expected. Being a man with my personality, it was a good choice to go to Peking University. I wasn’t asked to teach constitution, but was accepted by Mr. Jiang Mingan to teach administrative law. I didn’t come back to research constitutional government until a few years passed by. What happened later was not as Mr. Wang expected. He originally wanted me to teach constitution. But since it didn’t work to teach constitution, it would be alright to teach administrative law and he also helped me.
Although I was the earliest one of my time who concentrated on the theory of constitutional government, I accomplished nothing. I was resentful about that, so I was always afraid to see him. Now I will never have the chance to see him even if I get ready to be criticized by him. Because of my laziness and self-blame, I missed the chance to visit him in the past six years. I didn’t perform my filial duties towards him, and I am a man who brings disgrace to teaching. I can’t forgive myself.
I called Mo Jihong on the morning of the 25th and I knew that he would go to Mr. Wang’s home to condole with Mr. Wang’s wife. Then I went to his home at once.
To my surprise, we saw the first snow of that year in the evening when Mr. Wang passed away. It didn’t snow a lot but it was solemn and calm. Mr. Wang, you have left us forever but I didn’t manage to see you. I feel regret and repentance. You leaved us a snow and I just look for you and want to see your figure again. My memorial article The First Snow in 2006 was produced not without reason on that occasion to express my respect and thanks to Mr. Wang.
Nie: Mr. Zhou, you also studied as a post graduate under Mr. Wang Shuwen. What’s your impression of him according to your own experience?
Zhou Hanhua: : Honestly, I didn’t contact Mr. Wang very much even though I was a student of his and worked in the Law Institute after graduating. In 1986, I was admitted into the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Science with Mo Jihong and Zhang Honghui; we were the last students of his. As Mr. Wang was the head of the Law Institute, he had a lot of social activities to join in so I didn’t have the chance to see him alone. I just got the opportunity to talk with him simply when he gave us lessons. For a long time, I had to introduce myself to him no matter if it was in the Law Institute or out of it, in case he called the wrong name in public (there is a classmate who had this experience and he was depressed for a long time. And we joked about him for several times.).
After remaining at the institute when graduating, I chose to do research on administrative law, so I hardly had the chance to communicate with him to talk about academic research. Mr. Wang wasn’t the director of the Law Institute after 1988, and he was devoted to the People’s Congress and the Chinese Law Society and seldom came to the Law Institute. My classmates Wu Xinping, Mo Jihong and Li Zhong were representing him to deal with work. So I hardly found a chance to contact him properly. The chance to talk to him longest for me was in this year’s Spring Festival; then we comrades in our research office went to his home to pay a New Year visit. Mr. Wang was so very glad at that time, and communicated with us for more than two hours.
What impressed me most about Mr. Wang was his ability to analyze law principles, especially constitutional principles. When I chose my school and tutor before taking the examination, I was attracted by a constitution article written by Mr. Wang. Then I decided to sign up with him. Mr. Wang talked about the basic system of the Chinese constitution fluently and endlessly with a Sichuan accent when he gave us lessons, without teaching materials. It gave me the feeling that he was far more familiar with the constitution version than any scholar. Whatever questions we raised, he could give us his own explanation and answer combined to the constitution version. The basic skills of normative analysis that Mr. Wang taught me has benefitted me a lot until now. No matter how the science of law develops, normative analysis is the most basic and the science of law will not be able to manage without it even given a lot of research methods and materials.
Sometimes we couldn’t even understand or accept that he focused so much on norms and texts. When choosing the subject of my thesis, I intended to cut into the subject of the inspiration of autonomy to Chinese policy reform in terms of individual right (I had been awarded in a national soliciting activity with a familiar essay before). However, he objected firmly and limited the scope of research when I submitted the subject. He thought that the Chinese constitution stipulated three kinds of autonomy which were regional autonomy of minority nationalities, the autonomy of special administrative regions and the autonomy of the grass-roots. So I should make these three kinds of autonomy the objects of my thesis and not discuss autonomy generally. Nevertheless I tried to persuade him, but I didn’t manage to do it. I should admit I still insisted on my original opinion on this matter, and insisted on the principle of handing over to them when I instruct my students in composing the essay. I never interfere in selecting subjects if they can justify themselves.
We can say that his literature is done to convey the value of truth, and his style is the index of himself. You only get a deeper understanding of Mr. Wang’s character if you can understand his devotion to norm and text. Mr. Wang not only focused on prescription but also on every aspect of life. In the region of law, there are not many experienced scholars like Mr. Wang. He had been the director of the Law Institute and afterwards been the vice director of the China Law Society, and he had served as Vice-President of the Chinese Law Society, secretary-general of Social Sciences, member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, the Dean of the Law School of Tsinghua University and a lifelong researcher approved by the Ministry of Personnel. Mr. Wang had taken part in drafting the constitution of 1982, the Basic Law of Hong Kong and Macao. To ordinary people, with so much experience and power, Mr. Wang could provide special treatment and help his friends or relatives if he turned his elbows to the right side. But according to my impression, Mr. Wang just behaved properly and never cared about worldly gains like others do. We can say that Mr. Wang applied his respect for academic research in the real life and acted on principles even harmful for himself. So each time he retired from a position completely and rapidly with no trace as if he had vanished. Actually, according to his experience and health, he could continually make contributions to the law establishment and the development of law.
But Mr. Wang seemed to adapt himself to the ordinary life after retirement and had no complaints. On the occasion of paying a spring visit to him, he prepared beforehand and dressed tidily. He was in good heart and introduced us to his retired life. On that day, he was very talkative and talked a lot about himself. When he said that he squeezed into the bus at the age of nearly 80 and challenged insensitive youngsters, we were cheered but also worried about him. When he talked about his happy, quiet and regular remaining years with his wife, we all prayed and blessed them. When he memorized his lovely studying time in Soviet Union as if enumerating his family treasures with pleasure, we were brought into another beautiful world by him. When he showed us his brochure handled for a vice-ministerial cadre seeing a doctor while working in the National People’s Congress, we just saw the appreciation and contentment of life explicit in his words. At last, when he pointed to his more than 120-square meters tower building house on which the sun only shines for several hours, and said peacefully that it was his largest house over these decades, I was moved and tingled by this situation and my heart seemed to bleed. At that moment, I suddenly felt that I understood him better than anytime.
The whole life of Mr. Wang was both ordinary and uncommon. But the greatest things of his life were his realization of unity of knowing and doing, being a simple and upright and honorable man, and being a man who believed in and abode in his principles even if it meant he had to hurt himself. Precisely because of this kind of scholar, the fire of knowledge can be passed on from generation to generation and multiply in an endless succession. If there are more scholars of law who treat law seriously, it will be lucky for Chinese law and the Chinese nation.
Nie Xiushi, female, born in 1974, is a research assistant in the institute of law of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. She has worked in the scientific research department of the institute of law since she graduated from North China University of Technology. From 2002 to 2005, she studied constitution and administrative law under Mr. Mo Jihong in the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Social Science and achieved her master’s degree in 2005. Since 1998, she has translated and published some academic essays. Call in the Sky of Rights was awarded the third prize of the “Constitution is around me” of China News Cup, conferred by the China Law Society and People’s Court Daily.
(Translated by Xu Xiujun)
Editor: Wang Daohang