Three Supremes

Three Supremes

| CMP Staff

Image by Marco Verch available at under CC license.

The “Three Supremes,” first introduced by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) during a 2007 session on national politics and law attended by senior judges and prosecutors, represented a significant change — and many at the time said, a clear step backward — in China’s judicial policies. The buzzword, which was actively implemented as policy in 2008 as Wang Shengjun (王胜俊) became head of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, essentially meant that legal cases must be considered in light of the basic tasks and development priorities defined by the party and government in China. The “Three Supremes” are: 1. “Supremacy of the business of the CCP” (党的事业至上); 2. “Supremacy of the interests of the people” (人民利益至上); 3. “Supremacy of constitutional law” (宪法法律至上).

According to lawyers and legal scholars in China, the “Three Supremes” consolidated the demand that the law must serve the basic strategic interests of the CCP.  As legal scholar He Weifang (贺卫方) told Hong Kong’s Asia Weekly magazine in August 2010: “Who is supreme in this Three Supremes? When a family of three has a disagreement, who do they listen to? . . . Between the interests of the CCP, the interests of the people and the interests of the Constitution, who is bigger?” He said at the time that legal system reforms in the reform period were seriously undermined by the “Three Supremes,” which risked replacing the policy goal of “judicial independence” (司法独立).

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