After 1986, legal reform moved toward consolidation. Optimism about the developmement of a legal order took hold as Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese leadership insisted that forging a socialist legal system went hand in hand with socialist construction and modernization in general.1 The direction of legal reform was clear.
However, the future of the entire reform programme seemed threatened when Hu Yaobang, a prime symbol of the reform movement, was forced to step down from the post of Party General Secretary in January 1987, following the student movement at the end of 1986. The ensuing nationwide campaign to 'combat bougeois liberalization' plunged China into the worst state of political tension since the Third Plenum of 1978. For a while, the campaign remained limited in scale and did not seriously affect legal reform. A thaw was signalled at the Thirteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 1987,during which socialist reform was officially re-endorsed. But the ascendancy of Li Peng, who held a conservative view of reform,2 demonstrated the relative decline of reformists within the Party leadership.3____________________