Mapping Legal Change in the Context of Reforms to Chinese Police Powers
ASIAN SOCIALISM & LEGAL CHANGE: THE DYNAMICS OF VIETNAMESE AND CHINESE REFORM AUSTRALIA, pp. 212-238, J. Gillespie & P. Nicholson, eds., Asia Pacific Press, 2005
27 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2007
In 1978, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) began a program of economic modernisation and reform, a core aim of which was rebuilding the Chinese legal system. The importance of this aim increased further in 1996, when the Party approved the program of 'ruling the country according to law' (yifa zhiguo). In a speech in 1996 and in his subsequent keynote address to the Fifteenth National Congress of the CCP in September 1997, Jiang Zemin advocated 'Us(ing) law to rule the country, protect the long-term peace and good order of the state (yifa zhiguo, baozhan guojia changzhi jiu'an)'. Subsequently, the Party adopted the slogan that 'ruling the country on the basis of law is the basic program by which the Party leads the people in ruling the country' (Zhu Rongji 1999:2). An increasingly important component of 'ruling the country according to law' has been a requirement that law provide the foundation on which state power is defined and exercised. That is, implementation of a system of law-based governance. The desire for formal legal legitimation of the exercise of the state's administrative power is captured in the slogan 'administration according to law' (yifa xingzheng). The process of constructing the legal system has, accurately, been described as 'an event of epic historic proportions' (Alford 1999:193). While reforms to the legal regulation of economic relations have taken place at a phenomenal rate, this chapter focuses on the slower, and arguably more complex, process of reforming state administrative powers, specifically one of the administrative detention powers of the Chinese public security organs (gong'an jiguan, also referred to in this chapter as the 'police') - detention for investigation (shourong shencha). This power is particularly interesting because it was ostensibly abolished by amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law in 1996.
Keywords: China, reform, police, criminal procedure law
JEL Classification: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation