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Criminal Reconciliation in Contemporary China

Jue Jiang

Criminal reconciliation, a special procedure stipulated in PRC’s 2013 Criminal Procedure Law, allows the alleged perpetrators and victims of certain crimes to resolve criminal cases through reconciliation or mediation. Based on empirical studies on pilot practices of this mechanism in three cities in China, this book argues that criminal reconciliation enables abuses of power and infringement of the parties’ access to justice. This programme further throws light on certain fundamental problems with the wider criminal justice system.
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Chapter 2: A comparative look at criminal reconciliation: a transplant of restorative justice?

Jue Jiang


What has been accompanying the pilot practices of criminal reconciliation is the heated debate among domestic Chinese scholars over the ‘nature’ () of this programme. In general, domestic professionals suggest two ways of understanding this programme: the first one may be simplified as ‘looking outside’ – domestic Chinese scholars of this school have focused themselves on restorative justice – keen on presenting the resemblances between criminal reconciliation and restorative justice, and the merits of restorative justice, they were seeking justification for its adoption in the Chinese criminal proceedings. On the other hand, another school of scholars, such as Su Li and Fan Yu, stick to their aim of ‘looking inside’ – as elaborated in Chapter 1, they maintain that criminal reconciliation is a purely indigenous Chinese practice which develops from as well as fits Chinese history, culture, custom, and importantly, the Chinese people’s preference and demands. In his article ‘China’s Turn Against Law,’ Carl Minzner compares China’s national shift towards mediation since the 2000s with such a shift happening in other developing countries, which primarily results from the (deemed failure) of the law-and-development and the (emergence) of the law-and-society movement. Su Li and Fan Yu are acknowledged as leading scholars in China’s law-and-society study field. However, as also critically discussed in the previous chapter, with the rise of rights consciousness in Chinese society, what the scholars like Su Li and Fan Yu maintain is debatable and serves the authorities’ political ends. Consequently, public power or coercive force is almost bound to take a...

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