Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China
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Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China

Edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils

Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China is an anthology of chapters on the contemporary criminal justice system in mainland China, bringing together the work of recognised scholars from China and around the world.
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Chapter 1: Introductory reflections

Jerome A. Cohen


This is a very serious time to consider criminal justice in China. We all read the newspapers and we know what is going on concerning human rights lawyers and criminal lawyers generally in China, and we know the extra-legal measures being taken against people as well as the use of formal criminal processes. So it is a sobering time. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity, and I am especially happy to see so many distinguished scholars and friends from China, whose work has been so fundamental to the progress that has been made there in criminal justice since 1978, included in this volume. It is exciting to be told that China is preparing for another round of law reform, and today I’ll have a few things to say about its potential significance. Today is May 7th. This is an important date to those who were Chinese officials during the Cultural Revolution. And when I first went to China, my hosts took me to a ‘Wuqi Ganxiao’, a May 7th Cadre School; perhaps most of you don’t even know about it. It was a sad thing to see these officials – able, educated people – mandated to the countryside, forced to build their own shelters and then humiliated when foreigners came to look at them by having to sing and dance and to say how they loved Chairman Mao.

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