chapter  9
16 Pages

State Power and Unbalanced Legal Development in China

ByYongshun Cai, Songcai Yang

Political and socioeconomic changes in China have assigned an unprecedented role to law, and rule of law is believed to be crucial to regime transition in China. That is why Pan Wei sees rule of law as one of the most important components of future regime building in China. Randall Peerenboom has much disagreement with Pan, but he also believes in the importance of rule of law to China and thinks that China should focus on creating the institutions and establishing a legal system that at a minimum meets the standards of a thin rule of law. There has not been a commonly accepted definition of rule of law, but “[v]irtually all definitions of rule of law agree on the importance of law’s function to set limits to the exercise of private and state power.”1 Hence, a precondition for rule of law is to restrain state actors. Peerenboom also points to a series of daunting challenges in achieving a thin rule of law in China. This chapter aims to demonstrate some of those challenges by examining the problems encountered by legal professionals (i.e., lawyers) in China. It shows that for rule of law or its development to be possible in China, not only government agencies but also legal departments have to be restrained.