The Politics of Law and Stability in China

The Politics of Law and Stability in China

Edited by Susan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio and Sarah Biddulph

The Politics of Law and Stability in China examines the nexus between social stability and the law in contemporary China. It explores the impact of Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rationales for social stability on legal reforms, criminal justice operations and handling of disputes and social unrest inside and outside China’s justice agencies.

Chapter 6: Mediating state and society: social stability and administrative suits

Michael Palmer

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


A significant dimension of legal systems committed to important principles such as the rule of law and good governance is their use of the courts to make public officials in some way accountable for the manner in which their decisions affect individuals. This is especially so where such decision-making gives rise to a citizen grievance. In post-Mao China’s legal development, one of the most serious difficulties has been the need for effective legal controls over the exercise of administrative powers by the state. The traditional, paternalistic authority of the Chinese state has been reinforced by a socialist dictatorship and the perceived need to protect rapid economic growth by ensuring a stable socio-political environment, so that China retains a very strong executive, albeit one still at the call of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At the constitutional level in the People’s Republic, a greater emphasis on the need for a regular legal framework for the exercise of authority has encouraged the introduction of important new values and rights. But the impact of such progress is muffled by the fact that constitutional rights are not justiciable. A system of administrative litigation (xingzheng susong) was experimented with in the 1980s under the provisional civil procedure code, and was introduced in the form of a national code in 1990.

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