‘It Must Be Rock Strong!’: Guanxi's Impact on Judicial Decision-Making in China

26 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2017

See all articles by Xin He

Xin He

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Law, Visiting

Kwai Hang Ng

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: January 31, 2017

Abstract

Drawing upon data interviews with Chinese judges who were involved in the decision-making process, we develop two variables for analyzing the influence of social ties, or guanxi, in the judicial setting. The first differentiates the strength of guanxi – whether it is strong or weak. The second distinguishes whether the guanxi source is from a supervisor who has a role in affecting the benefit or the career development of the target judge. We argue that instead of working independently, these two variables interact and often mutually reinforce. With this typology, we contrast the means and outcomes of four types of guanxi. This article deepens scholarly understanding on the operation of guanxi in Chinese courts. Our framework explains why shady practices that fuel favoritism and undermine the development of legal professionalism are difficult to pin down and stem out.

Keywords: Guanxi, Judicial Decision-Making, Chinese Courts, Judges, Legal Professionalism, Lawyers, Corruption, Hierarchical Nature, Supervisory Guanxi, Rule of Law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K4, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

He, Xin and Ng, Kwai Hang, ‘It Must Be Rock Strong!’: Guanxi's Impact on Judicial Decision-Making in China (January 31, 2017). Centre for Chinese & Comparative Law Research Paper No. 2017/004; 21st Century China Center Research Paper No. 2017-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2909432 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2909432

Xin He (Contact Author)

City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) ( email )

83 Tat Chee Avenue
Kowloon
Hong Kong

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Law, Visiting

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Kwai Hang Ng

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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