Conclusion: Making Sense of Chinese Criminal Trials



Chinese culture and law have many features. Both have been flexible and adaptive for centuries and, both were radically reshaped in the twentieth century. With a focus on China’s attempt to accelerate its legal and criminal justice reform efforts in the past two decades, this study shows in a limited fashion what the effects of some of these innovations have been: they are modest at best. The current Chinese juridical practice is set in a political climate that can be defined as adaptive authoritarianism where elements of the rule of man, rule by law, and rule of law coexist. The field of Chinese criminal justice can be figuratively described as a “fenced-off playground with paternalistic guards.” (The Economist 2013) There is a general recognition that China’s economic ascendance in recent decades has created a genuine dilemma pitting a liberated (and increasing liberal) grassroots economic spirit against the old, stifling political constraints induced by the government. In particular, researchers have noticed the expanded expectation for the Chinese court to serve not only as impartial and effective adjudicators of private disputes but also as necessary checks on state power (Liebman 2008).


Criminal Justice World Value Survey Criminal Trial Legal Practice Chinese Characteristic 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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