Challenging Authoritarianism Through Law: Potentials and Limit

22 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2010

See all articles by Fu Hualing

Fu Hualing

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 7, 2010


The potentials and limit of legal reform in an authoritarian state is a fascinating issue. Scholars and practitioners have argued whether legal reform can soften the edge of an authoritarian system and eventually liberalize it, or whether the legal reform would simply further entrench the authoritarian rule. This paper attempts to contribute to this debate by examining the efforts of activist lawyers in China in mobilizing law to protect and promote rights, and the implications of their legal activism on China’s political and legal development. The Communist Party has created an autonomous profession of lawyers and now has to live with the challenges it poses.

Keywords: China, public interest litigation, authoritarian state, legal reform, lawyers, human rights, anti-discrimination, rule of law, politics, Chinese Communist Party, democracy, rightful resistance, access to justice, legal service, court, media, litigation, social justice, legal activism, civil society

JEL Classification: J7, J70, J71, K00, K1, K10, K19, K4, K40, K41, K42, K49, N45, P2, P20

Suggested Citation

Hualing, Fu, Challenging Authoritarianism Through Law: Potentials and Limit (December 7, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Fu Hualing (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong


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