A Lesson Plan Comparing China’s and America’s Concepts of Law, Constitution and Legal System

Author: Patricia Ajemian
Essential Question:
  • How are China’s and America’s legal systems similar and/or different?
  • Are rights culturally universal or culturally relative?
  • What is a constitution?
  • Is illegal dissent ever justified; under what circumstances?
Summary: This lesson explores the Chinese legal system created after the Cultural Revolution and the creation of the Chinese Constitution in 1982.  Students will learn the differences between the Chinese culture’s concepts of the law and America’s view of the legal system.  Students will determine if rights are universal or culturally relative, and discuss the different reasons for dissent.  Students will use a variety of sources to draw conclusions, develop persuasive skills during discussions, and create and defend an argument.
Grade Level: 11th-12th grades
Subject Areas: American Government or U.S. History (11th– 12th grades), also  International Relations or  AP Comparative Government.
Keywords: Chinese Law, Constitution, Legal System
Lesson Duration  2-3 50-minute periods, or 2 90-minute block periods
Published February, 2019
Source Lecture on China’s legal system presented at the 1990 Institute Teachers Workshop in July 2018 by Tobias Smith.


Lesson Plan

Accompanying Documents:

Ajemian-Law China-Amerian Comparison Chart

Ajemian-Law Structured Conversation Notes

Ajemian-Law Focus Questions

Ajemian-Law Key Terms


Tobias Smith – A Generation of Law in China – video


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