'China's Long March Toward Rule of Law' or 'China's Turn Against Law'?

46 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2014 Last revised: 27 Aug 2017

See all articles by Albert H. Y. Chen

Albert H. Y. Chen

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2012


In 2002, Professor Randall Peerenboom published a major work on legal reforms in post-Mao China, entitled “China’s Long March Toward Rule of Law”. In 2011, Professor Carl Minzner published a major article on trends of legal development in China in the first decade of the 21st century, entitled “China’s Turn Against Law”. Has China really embarked upon a “long march toward Rule of Law” since Deng Xiaoping initiated the era of “reform and opening” in the late 1970s? If so, has there been a regression or retrenchment in Rule of Law developments in China in recent years?

These questions cannot be properly addressed without first reflecting on what methodology or approach we should adopt in describing and assessing legal developments in contemporary China. This paper therefore consists of two main parts. Part I engages in methodological reflections on the study of contemporary Chinese law as an exercise in comparative law, by reviewing and commenting on some relevant writings of leading scholars in the field. Part II of the paper then proceeds to evaluate the legal reforms in post-Mao China and recent trends in the Chinese legal system.

Keywords: China, rule of law, orientalism

Suggested Citation

Chen, Albert H. Y., 'China's Long March Toward Rule of Law' or 'China's Turn Against Law'? (December 1, 2012). University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2014/023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2471505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2471505

Albert H. Y. Chen (Contact Author)

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

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Hong Kong, Hong Kong

HOME PAGE: http://hub.hku.hk/rp/rp01240

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