China's Long March toward Rule of Law

By Randall Peerenboom | Go to book overview

11
Rule of law, democracy, and human rights

The preceding chapters have focused on rule of law in China: its evolution, competing conceptions of it, institutional obstacles to its realization, and its role in economic development. Yet many who invoke rule of law (particularly in the West) do so not in the name of providing the necessary predictability required in a market economy but rather in relation to two of the other hallmarks of modernity discussed in the Introduction: democracy and human rights. 1 In this chapter, therefore, I discuss the relationship between rule of law, democracy, and human rights.

After a brief summary of various conceptions of democracy and the main arguments for and against implementing democracy in China at this time, I turn to the debate surrounding the relationship between democracy and economic development. Though the empirical evidence is mixed on the general issue of their relationship, there is ample evidence that authoritarian regimes may achieve sustained economic growth, and that economic development and rule of law need not lead to liberal democracy, at least for a long time. I argue that, for a variety of reasons, the short-term prospects for democracy in China are not promising. In the long run, however, China is likely to become democratic, though probably not a liberal democracy. Rather, the more likely outcome will be a nonliberal soft authoritarian or communitarian form of democracy. Rule of law may serve as an intermediate step along that route.


Political reform

Early theorists such as Lipset argued that economic development would lead to political development. 2 Indeed, some liberals think that China is becoming like us, that it is moving toward genuine multiparty democracy and greater protection of individual rights. 3 Most are more dubious, although they firmly believe China should be becoming more like us.

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China's Long March toward Rule of Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xvi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes *
  • 2 - The Evolution of Rule of Law in China: the Role of Law in Historical Context 27
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Post-Mao Reforms: Competing Conceptions of Rule of Law 55
  • Notes 110
  • 4 - Rule of Law and Its Critics 126
  • Notes 175
  • 5 - Retreat of the Party and the State 188
  • Notes *
  • 6 - The Legislative System: Battling Chaos 239
  • Notes *
  • 7 - The Judiciary: in Search of Independence, Authority, and Competence 280
  • Notes *
  • 8 - The Legal Profession: the Quest for Independence and Professionalism 343
  • Notes 384
  • 9 - The Administrative Law Regime: Reining in an Unruly Bureaucracy 394
  • Notes *
  • 10 - Rule of Law and Economic Development 450
  • Notes *
  • 11 - Rule of Law, Democracy, and Human Rights 513
  • Notes *
  • 12 - Conclusion: the Future of Legal Reform 558
  • Notes *
  • References 599
  • Index 653
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