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 15: Conclusion

Mike McConville

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


In this chapter, we draw together some thoughts emerging from this empirical study of criminal justice in China. Before doing so, we wish to enter some cautionary notes which affect both the nature of the conclusions that can be drawn and the possible wider implications to which some of our findings might give rise. The overall direction of our discussion is to stimulate further research and debate rather than to offer a definitive analysis of what all informed commentators agree are difficult issues concerning one of the world’s leading economic powers and the way in which it deals with matters relating to criminal justice. We nevertheless believe that certain theoretical and policy issues are made clearer by the empirical data that we have amassed and we put forward our views to assist further debate and inform policy decisions. INTRODUCTION This research is not intended to and does not provide a basis for evaluating the generality of China’s progress towards the rule of law. We have made no inventory of law reform efforts in areas (such as commercial law, intellectual property law, labour law, land ownership or environmental law) other than crime and any fair ‘rule of law’ assessment would ideally have this wider sweep to significantly add to existing debates. Nevertheless, in any persuasive appreciation of China’s progress towards rule of law its treatment of those accused of criminal offences must, we argue, occupy a central position. It follows, for example, that we do not seek to adjudicate between various...

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