In the Journal of Asian Cultures (Vol.1, March 1999), the author respectively discussed the relationship that such restrictions presupposed for interdependence between the emperor and his ministers and the functions of the remonstrators (jianguan 諫官) and censors (yushi 御史) who were in constant factional struggles, through the facts of the political history. Restrictions are one of the characteristic features of Chinese political history. Even imperial sovereignty could not free itself from them. Therefore the author describes the relationship between the emperor and his ministers as an arch bridge rather than the usual pyramid. Another important characteristic of Chinese political history is factional grouping. The author thinks that the key point to understanding Chinese political history is to start with factional struggle.
  As a continuation of the paper mentioned above, this paper firstly examines the background of the view of the sovereign autocracy that has dominated Chinese history research during the 20th century, and explains the process and method of the author’s approach to imperial sovereignty. The author thinks attention should be paid to the operation of systems being in a dynamic state, rather than the regulations of systems in a static state. Before starting the discussion, the author defines his concept of imperial sovereignty, which, under the centralization of state power as having two aspects, public and private aspects. However, essentially these aspects are still a part of the state power system. Then, the author examines 1) the influence of pre-Qin dynasty ideological thinker’s view of sovereignty upon the literati and officialdom of the later generations and 2) the literati and officialdom’s view of imperial sovereignty formed in long-term political practice. The author concludes that pre-Qin dynasty ideological thinker’s view of sovereign endowed the literati and officialdom of later generations with a political morality for criticizing the emperor’s faults frankly. The sovereign system made it possible for the emperor to err and interpret imperial sovereignty as his personal power, but criticism by the literati and officialdom aimed at bringing the emperor in line with the standard of the state power system. The image of the emperor created by the political ideals of the literati and officialdom inevitably brought imperial sovereignty in essence to a lower level, thus forcing it to become a symbol.
 There are other reasons why imperial sovereignty moved towards being a symbol, the author thinks that with the exception those emperors who founded dynasties and held power in their own hands, most succeeding emperors had no such ability for various reasons as all hereditary systems in the world history. For succeeding emperors, the significance of being an emperor is to function as a symbol of status not a power holder. In addition, along with the gradual completion of each political system and bureaucratization of government administration in more and more detail, the emperor had less and less chance to take part in the government. The emperor was wrapped in holy light while the government headed by the premier played an increasingly important role in policy decisions. From this point of view, a more and more mature political system itself tends to exclude of the imperial sovereignty. This change reflects a separation of power from authority; That is to say, imperial sovereignty in Chinese history went through a process from absolute power in essence to absolute symbolic authority.
 Finally, as to problems that remain to be discussed in the future, the author suggests, based on the present study, that China might have developed into a constitutional monarchy, if not so many unexpected incidents had happened.