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Modern Chinese Legal Reform

Modern Chinese Legal Reform: New Perspectives

Xiaobing Li
Qiang Fang
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Modern Chinese Legal Reform
    Book Description:

    China's rapid socioeconomic transformation of the past twenty years has led to dramatic changes in its judicial system and legal practices. As China becomes more powerful on the world stage, the global community has dedicated more resources and attention to understanding the country's evolving democratization, and policymakers have identified the development of civil liberties and long-term legal reforms as crucial for the nation's acceptance as a global partner.

    Modern Chinese Legal Reformis designed as a legal and political research tool to help English-speaking scholars interpret the many recent changes to China's legal system. Investigating subjects such as constitutional history, the intersection of politics and law, democratization, civil legal practices, and judicial mechanisms, the essays in this volume situate current constitutional debates in the context of both the country's ideology and traditions and the wider global community.

    Editors Xiaobing Li and Qiang Fang bring together scholars from multiple disciplines to provide a comprehensive and balanced look at a difficult subject. Featuring newly available official sources and interviews with Chinese administrators, judges, law-enforcement officers, and legal experts, this essential resource enables readers to view key events through the eyes of individuals who are intimately acquainted with the challenges and successes of the past twenty years.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4122-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Chronology
    (pp. xiii-xxx)
  7. Introduction: Legal Reforms in Twentieth-Century China
    (pp. 1-24)
    Xiaobing Li and Qiang Fang

    Few areas of research in China studies pose more difficulties than that of the Chinese legal system, primarily because of its unique position in Chinese society and relationship to the legitimacy of the nation’s Communist authority. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is still the state’s dominant political party and controls the executive, legislative, and judicial systems. Since 1978 the CCP’s leaders have launched the reform movement, and China has experienced a tremendous wave of change. The shifting nature of the ongoing reform, however, is plagued by contradiction, uncertainty, and the clash of tradition and modernity.

    The reform movement has produced...

  8. Part One. From Lawlessness to the Rule of Law

    • 1 Chinese Media and the Rule of Law: The Case of the China Youth Daily, 1979–2006
      (pp. 27-58)
      Qiang Fang

      Since the early days of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), CCP leaders such as Mao Zedong have repeatedly stressed the importance of public media to serve the people. According to Julian Chang, Mao first perceived the importance of political propaganda in the 1920s.¹ In 1942 Mao evidently stated that literature and art should serve only four kinds of people: workers, farmers, soldiers, and the urban petite bourgeoisie.² One year before the CCP took over China, Mao further addressed the role of newspapers, which would “allow the Party’s principles, guidelines, policies, working goals, and methods to be spread to the masses...

    • 2 Deviation in Legal Practice: Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics
      (pp. 59-82)
      Yuchao Zhu

      One of the most important aspects of China’s post-Mao transition is legal reform, and there are three main imperatives behind the proposed objectives. First is a political imperative: the post-Mao government began to understand the growing importance of various institutions for administration and rule making, realizing that the tradition of arbitrary, unpredictable, and highly secretive practices carries enormous costs. Thus, there is a growing need for procedural politics and more predictable results.¹ Second is an economic imperative: a new rule of law is essential for bringing basic efficiencies into the rapidly expanding Chinese economy. An economy based on competitive or...

    • 3 The Dragon’s Tale: China’s Efforts toward the Rule of Law
      (pp. 83-108)
      Xiaobing Li

      China’s current constitution, which incorporated important amendments between 1978 and 2004, has finally addressed citizens’ liberties and has institutionalized these rights as a component of the nation’s judicial system that was created with the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Since the creation of the PRC, China has promulgated four state constitutions, in 1954, 1975, 1978, and 1982. The current constitution was adopted by the Fifth National People’s Congress (NPC) on December 4, 1982, and it underwent important changes and revisions in 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004. Even though some civil liberties and legal codes are...

  9. Part Two. Legal Reform

    • 4 In Transformation toward Socio-Legality with Chinese Characteristics: A Critical View
      (pp. 111-130)
      Jieli Li

      Socio-legality is fundamentally the institutional arrangement of a social control system that may take the shape of formal legalism, informal legalism, or a combination of both for conflict mediation and resolution. Though informal legalism (or what Max Weber calls traditional authority) is generally predominant in premodern or preindustrial societies, formal legalism (or what Weber refers to as rational-legal authority) prevails in modernized or industrialized countries. It is thus in a long-run socio-legal process that informal legalism tends to give way to formal legalism, and the rule of law comes to take center stage in modern societies. The process of defining...

    • 5 Labor Law Reforms: China’s Response to Challenges of Globalization
      (pp. 131-150)
      Yunqiu Zhang

      During the post-Mao reform years, China carried out vigorous labor law reforms, as witnessed by the promulgation of numerous laws and regulations on labor issues. What were the dynamics behind these labor law reforms? This chapter is an attempt to answer this question by focusing on the influence of globalization, which is understood in two senses—economic and legal. It argues that in economic globalization, China was increasingly integrated into the world economic system, which compelled China to reform its traditional labor system and follow, or adjust to, internationally accepted rules or conventions in conducting economic activities, including labor management....

    • 6 Adaptation to WTO Standards: Changes and Adjustments to Business Laws and Regulations
      (pp. 151-170)
      Xiaoxiao Li

      On November 10, 2001, in Doha, Qatar, the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) adopted the decision on China’s accession to the WTO. As of December 11, 2001, China officially became the 143rd member of the WTO, which marked the fact that China’s “opening-to-outside world” policy had entered a new era. This chapter reviews the legal and regulatory preparations that were made as the Chinese government proceeded. Many disputes over weighted sacrifices have been compared to the benefits to China’s economy, especially the effects on Chinese economic development. The question arose whether joining the WTO would halt...

    • 7 The Death Penalty for Economic Crimes in Reformed China
      (pp. 171-188)
      LiYing Li

      The Sanlu Group, based in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei Province, near Beijing, had been China’s most respected dairy giant for more than a dozen years.¹ When the executives of the Fonterra Group, the world’s largest trader of dairy products, went to Beijing to meet with their Chinese joint venture partner in August 2008, Sanlu’s tainted milk powder came to light. Test results showed that infant milk powder manufactured and sold by the Sanlu Group contained the industrial chemical melamine, which makes the protein content of milk powder appear to be higher. Consumption of melamine-contaminated milk has been linked...

    • 8 China’s Policies toward Illegal Drugs and Prostitution in the New Era: Struggle within the Global Context
      (pp. 189-212)
      Bin Liang and Liqun Cao

      Both drug abuse and prostitution have existed in China for thousands of years, being tolerated and regulated as a form of subculture for most of China’s history. Both, however, were eliminated for thirty years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and both have reemerged since the 1980s. The study of China’s control of drugs and prostitution over the past two hundred years is both important and enlightening because it provides not only keys to an understanding of China’s social evolution, but also a mirror of convulsive and relentless change in China.¹

      Drug abuse, especially the abuse...

  10. Part Three. Civil Liberties and Human Rights

    • 9 Legal Institution Building for the Rule of Law and Human Rights
      (pp. 215-248)
      Yuchao Zhu

      The human rights issue in China continues to be contentious. The issue can be examined in a context of, among other things, the reconstruction of China’s legal system since the 1980s, and although the overall direction of legal reform has tended toward “the rule of law,”¹ if, or to what extent, China has built itself a “rule of law” society is still very debatable.² The Chinese government acknowledges serious problems ofyoufa buyi(having laws but not practicing them accordingly) andzhifa buyan(inadequate law enforcement).³ Critics either claim that they do not trust China’s legal system at all⁴ or...

    • 10 Sound Is Better Than Silence: Reporters, Freedom Writers, and Cyber Guerrillas
      (pp. 249-268)
      Xiaobing Li

      Because of the revolution from paper communication to digital technology, few areas of research in contemporary China pose more difficulties than the study of the mass media. According to official statistics, by the end of 2003 more than 30 million computers in the country were connected to the Internet, and the number of households that logged on reached 79.5 million, the second highest in the world. By the end of 2009 there were 384 million “netizens” in China.¹ By 2003 the number of Chinese households with telephones increased to 263.3 million, and mobile phone users increased by 62.7 million, to...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 269-270)
  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 271-274)
  13. Index
    (pp. 275-284)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)