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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Appendix 2: A note on research methodology

Mike McConville


* The project’s main aim was to provide reliable, empirical information about the operation of the Chinese criminal justice process since the reforms introduced by the Criminal Procedure Law of 1996. Informed policy making requires reliable information collected in a systematic fashion. Currently, the debate about whether China’s criminal justice process is working well or badly is swamped by anecdotal evidence of questionable worth together with limited, but very useful, methodologically-sound studies in various localities or reliant upon limited data, some official or disclosed officially. When we began our research, there was no systematic information of a substantial character available on the workings of the criminal justice system in China subsequent to the 1997 reforms.1 This research is an attempt to begin to fill that gap. The main project lasted for four years (2002–2006) during which all the main data were collected with follow-up visits undertaken up to and including 2009.2 At the initial stage, three researchers drawn from Mainland China were trained in Hong Kong for between four and six months before undertaking the fieldwork.3 At intervals during the fieldwork, the researchers were brought back to Hong Kong (together with Chinese colleagues who assisted in the research) to review progress and, in the early stages, to make adjustments wherever needed to the research instruments or to have discussions about access. The initial phase included a period of intensive training for the researchers in fieldwork skills as well as a period of immersion and acceptance in the fieldwork sites. The...

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