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Comparative Criminal Law and Enforcement: China

Concept Of Crime, The Institutions Of Criminal Justice, Powers And Process Of The Criminal Justice Institutions

A striking contradiction of the reform era of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since the late 1970s has been the coexistence of dramatic changes in the social and economic field and the sustained stagnation of political and legal institutions. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has insisted upon adherence to both the existing political system and to continuous economic reform. This contradictory doctrine has resulted in divergence between political conservatism and economic liberalization. Legal dualism has emerged as a result of the divergence. Public law, including laws regulating China's criminal process, lags far behind private law. Civil and commercial law, spearheaded by foreign investment legislation, is, in general, more certain, predictable and liberal, and has made real progress over the past twenty years. Criminal law, on the other hand, remains characterized by, inter alia, political interference in the legal process, arbitrary police power, wanton use of the death penalty, and so on.

Continuing economic reforms have placed increasingly heavy pressure on the political and legal system. Political institutions have undergone significant changes during the reform years, but today these political and legal institutions are strained and barely able to adapt to the vibrant economy and society. The criminal justice system is confronting the tension between the demand for social and political liberalization and the demand for political stability. Social and economic progress in China has given rise to an increasing demand for professionalism and procedural justice in the criminal justice system and a growth in the general public's cognizance of its rights. In contrast, the deterioration in social order and the perceived threat to political stability requires the criminal justice system to play an instrumental role in controlling crime and disorder. Reform of the criminal law and criminal justice system should be seen within this larger political context.


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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law