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Law and Society in China

Vai I. Lo

Law and Society in China examines the interplay between law and society from imperial to present-day China. This synoptic book traces the developments of law in Chinese societies, investigates the role of law in social governance, and discusses China’s ongoing reforms towards the rule of law with Chinese characteristics. In fostering a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal and disconnected, understanding of the interaction between law and society in China, this book will reduce misconceptions about and enhance appreciation for Chinese law.
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Chapter 4: Law and politics in pre-reform China

Vai I. Lo


Chapter 4 investigates China’s legal developments in the pre-reform period from 1949 to 1976. To provide a theoretical background, the chapter introduces Marxism, the basics of the socialist legal system and Mao Zedong Thoughts (including the two contradictions and the mass line theory). Once the theoretical foundation has been laid, the chapter highlights the salient features of China’s legal system in the pre-reform period, especially the emphasis on public law and on people’s mediation. Finally, the chapter discusses the Cultural Revolution, during which legal nihilism and ‘politics in command’ prevailed.

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