British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Photograph by Sean Gallup — Getty Images
By Michal Addady
October 15, 2015

Chinese authorities have refused to allow a copy of the Magna Carta to be displayed at an exhibit at Beijing’s Renmin University, the Financial Times reports.

The exhibit was to be put on to honor President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.K. next week. It had to be moved to the British ambassador’s residence at the last minute, where students are still welcome to view the historic document. The university simply never received the necessary permissions to display the document, which is credited with curbing the powers of the British monarchy, the FT said.

Lord Denning, a British barrister, has described the Magna Carta—often called the “foundation of freedom” charter—as “the greatest constitutional document of all times—the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

The term “constitution” has been a delicate one in China as of late since the popularization of the progressive movement known as “Constitutionalism.” The goal of the movement is to get the ruling Communist party to adhere to its own laws. Following a public campaign calling for authorities to reveal their assets, a prominent figure in the movement, lawyer Xu Zhiyong, was imprisoned for “disturbing public order.”

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