Criminal Justice in China
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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.
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Chapter 14: The process and the system

Mike McConville


In this chapter, we examine how our respondents view the institutions of the criminal justice process, the relationship between the different components and their place within those institutions. On the face of it, the criminal justice system comprises three elements with separate but interrelated responsibilities, each combining to assist and reinforce the work of the others. Article 7, 1996 CPL states: In conducting criminal proceedings, the People’s Courts, the People’s Procuratorates and the public security organs shall divide responsibilities, coordinate their efforts and check each other to ensure the correct and effective enforcement of law. Our concern here is to get beyond this institutional façade and gain an understanding of how the principal actors – those on the frontline of the system – see the overall architecture of the system and their own roles within it. We begin our account by looking at three core state institutions – the police (PSB), the procuratorate and the judiciary – before turning to the lawyers for the defence, the group that sits outside the institutions listed in Article 7. We preface this analysis by reminding the reader that in China progress towards the rule of law and recognition of the importance of human rights has to co-exist with a system which demands crime control on a daily basis, intensified at critical social or political moments by ‘strike hard’ (yanda) campaigns1 which serve to underline for state officials their own responsibility for delivering law and order. 1 On strike hard campaigns, see: Huang Xiangqing (2001); and Trevaskes...

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