China's Legal Awakening: Legal Theory and Criminal Justice in Deng's Era

By Carlos Wing-Hung Lo | Go to book overview

Preface

A sweeping judicial reform has been undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party after its promulgation of the é of Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee. That é denounced the Maoist style of legal nihilism and stressed the importance of law in relation to socialist modernization. This fundamental change, under Deng Xiaoping's leadership, is contrary to Mao's policies and has resulted in the replacement of popular justice by formal justice. It has also given rise to the hope for the rule of law. The nation has experienced its first ever era of legal order. These developments have stimulated my interest in undertaking this study.

This manuscript was prepared on the basis of my doctorate thesis completed in November 1989. At that time, I was forced to modify my hypothesis in regard to China's quest for a legal society from a strong version to a weaker one because of the tragic outcomes of the 1989 democracy movement. However, I was still optimistic, though cautious, that legal order, rather than Mao's style of nihilistic rule, was the Party's preference in re-shaping China's changing political order in the aftermath of the crisis. Informed by Huntington's theory of revolution and the former Soviet experience, I firmly believe that the revolutionary era in China has drawn to an end. The process of institutionalization and the task of strengthening the (socialist) rule of law were soon resumed in post-crisis China and both, since then, have been proceeding steadily and smoothly. A post-revolutionary society has already been taking shape even though those prominent leaders of the first generation of revolutionaries, namely Deng Xiaoping and Po I-po, are still alive.

To prevent committing the error of negating Chinese law in the name of Western legal theory, I have adopted in this book a socialist perspective to examine the Chinese legal system in the era of Deng Xiaoping. A four-month attachment to the Law School at the People's University of China in 1987 has strengthened my

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