Special Courts, Global China
60 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021 Last revised: 1 Feb 2022
Date Written: August 24, 2021
This Article analyzes China’s turn to specialized courts as a case study on how China’s global ambitions are shaping its domestic law reforms. It argues that the country’s rapid construction of more professional special courts in areas such as cyberspace and global commerce is best understood as a product of certain political benefits associated with judicial specialization. These include several internal-facing benefits oft cited in China law scholarship: reducing agency problems posed by local actors, for example, or minimizing political risk. But they also include newer factors keyed to a number of grand strategic priorities. What the evidence makes clearest, in fact, is that China’s planners see specialized courts as a means of accelerating professional reforms in areas linked to the party-state’s developmental, technological, and geopolitical goals. Far from a precursor to liberalization, professional specialization is now being marshaled in an effort to service China’s global strategies.
Keywords: specialized courts, Chinese courts, Chinese law, authoritarian legality, U.S.-China relations
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