International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 223–247 | Cite as

Fazhi vs/and/or Rule of Law?: A Semiotic Venture into Chinese Law

  • Deborah Cao


The paper is an investigation offazhi (rule of law) in China. The studyproposes a tentative semiotic framework for theinterpretation of the rule of law as a legalconcept to be applied to China in the light ofits recent incorporation into the ChineseConstitution. The paper argues that legalconcepts such as the rule of law are triadic innature and their constituents are relative,relational and contextual in the semioticinterpretative process. The study examines howthe concept can be explicated with the thin orformal theory of the rule of law as a frame ofreference, and how the semiotic model maycontribute to the understanding of the Chineserule of law or the lack thereof. This approachalso attempts to account for the gap betweenthe legal ideal and reality in China andcanvasses cross-cultural considerations. In thefirst part of the paper, a semiotic frameworkfor legal concepts is postulated forconstructing the meaning of the rule of law,followed by its application to contemporaryChina.


Legal Concept Apply Linguistics Legal Ideal Semiotic Model Semiotic Framework 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Cao
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Languages and LinguisticsGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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