Suing the Local State: Administrative Litigation in Rural China
China Journal, No. 51, pp. 76-96, January 2004
22 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2008
This article examines the dynamics of administrative litigation in rural China. It shows how local officials often attempt to preempt, derail or undermine administrative lawsuits by blocking access to official documents and regulations, pressuring courts to reject cases, failing to appear in court or perjuring themselves, discrediting attorneys, and intimidating litigants. It also discusses, however, how villagers fight back by drawing in sympathetic elites (such as people's congress deputies and the media) and mobilizing collective appeals and staging public protests. The paper concludes that administrative litigation provides a useful window on Chinese state-society relations and on the interplay of legal and political mobilization. It also suggests that should more villagers incorporate administrative litigation into their repertoire of contention, a reform designed to extend the life of an authoritarian regime may play a part in nudging China a step closer to rule of law.
Keywords: China, law, administration litigation, rural, courts
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