Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=412660
 
 

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Empirical Research Into the Chinese Judicial System


Donald C. Clarke


George Washington University Law School

July 15, 2003


Abstract:     
The last few years have seen a proliferation of programs by Western states and international agencies designed, in broad terms, to promote reforms in the Chinese judicial system. What is not clear, however, is whether there has been systematic thinking about the precise goals to be sought in these and other projects, whether these goals are appropriate, and indeed whether their achievement can even be ascertained in some measurable way. This paper is an attempt to think about what we know, what we might want to know, and what we can know about China's judicial system, broadly defined.

A key finding of this paper is that information about China's judicial system, even in the form of reliable and representative statistics, is not always what it seems to be. In other words, without a deeper understanding of the actual functioning of China's courts and other legal institutions, it is very easy to look for the wrong type of information and to misinterpret the information we have. Like the drunk in the joke who looked for his lost car keys under the streetlamp because the light was better there, we can be tempted to overvalue the importance of features of China's judicial system that can be measured by easily obtainable data. Thus, a priority in an empirical research agenda at this stage of our understanding should be further research into the actual functioning of China's various legal institutions so that we can have a better idea of what questions to ask.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: China, empirical research, fieldwork, judicial system, Chinese law, legal system, courts, judiciary

JEL Classification: K40, K41, K42, K33

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Date posted: August 31, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Donald C., Empirical Research Into the Chinese Judicial System (July 15, 2003). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=412660 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.412660

Contact Information

Donald C. Clarke (Contact Author)
George Washington University Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-2830 (Phone)
202-318-4479 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dclarke/
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