Criminal Justice in China

Criminal Justice in China

An Empirical Inquiry

Mike McConville

The political, economic and social transformations that have taken place in China over the last half-century have had a major impact upon the formal methods, institutions and mechanisms used to deal with alleged criminal infractions. This path-breaking book, based upon the largest and most systematic empirical inquiry ever undertaken in China, analyses the extent to which changes to the formal legal structure have resulted in changes to the law in practice.

Chapter 4: The construction of the police case

Mike McConville

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, criminal law and justice, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


In constructing the case for the prosecution, the police (PSB) in China, like those in Western countries, employ a variety of methods to collect evidence that would be admissible at trial or useful to their general investigatory and crime control role. As we have seen, the PSB have extensive powers to enable them to detain suspects and keep them in custody for this purpose. Given the negative view of ‘criminals’ and the view widely held in China that the ‘confession is king’ (kougong shi zhengju zhi wang), it is not surprising that the PSB spend significant efforts in questioning suspects with a view to gaining a confession and other crime-relevant information. Beyond this, the PSB have wider investigative powers including the power to stop and search individuals, to search premises, engage expert witnesses and gather information from victims and witnesses. In this chapter we document the ways in which the PSB utilize these powers with a view to constructing the case for the prosecution. THE SOURCES OF EVIDENCE Article 42, 1996 CPL makes clear that a wide range of information is included within the definition of ‘evidence’: All facts that prove the true circumstances of a case shall be evidence. Evidence includes the following seven categories: 1. material or documentary evidence; 2. testimony of witnesses; 3. statements of victims; 4. statements and apologia of the crime suspects and defendants; 5. conclusions of expert witnesses; 6. written records of inquests and examination; and 7. video and audio materials. Any of the...

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