Chapter 1: The criminal reconciliation (xingshi hejie) system in China: background, pilot projects and debates
Criminal reconciliation, xingshi hejie, is a ‘special procedure’ laid down in the 2012 PRC Criminal Procedure Law. This mechanism allows the alleged victims and suspects/defendants of certain crimes to ‘reconcile’ and thereby close criminal cases. Actually, since the early 2000s, this mechanism has been practised as an ‘experimental programme’ in many places in China. This chapter first provides a background of the introduction of criminal reconciliation, which is mainly a result of the authorities’ changing perspectives on legal reforms as well as on the criminal justice system. Following it, this chapter conducts a historical review of the Chinese mediation systems that have been in place since the Mao era, showing the connections between China’s mediation systems and various political ends, as well as the impacts of these connections on the parties’ rights and voluntariness. The last section of this chapter critically overviews the existing debates over criminal reconciliation practices, and the deficiencies with the existing literature on this mechanism.