The preceding chapters argued that legal reform and the revival of legal studies in China derived inspiration from the ideas of Deng Xiaoping. The development of a Chinese legal system owed much to him; and it was his views which sparked off jurisprudential debates. Deng's aim was to invigorate the orthodox 'Marxist theory of the state and law', a task long hampered by the Cultural Revolution. Yet Deng was concerned mainly with practicalities and did not provide a coherent set of legal principles; nor did his ideas have the same authority as those of Mao. Though, not always clear of what a socialist legal order should be, Deng pushed through a set of reforms, vanquishing all hostile forces. Now that law was no longer a 'forbidden zone' banned from discussion, his ideas quickly provided the direction.
Considering previous discussions of intellectual debates and the practice of criminal justice since 1979, this chapter will analyse the similarities and differences between the views of the Party (represented mostly by Deng) and scholars on questions of law. There were clearly also marked differences between the ideas offered by the Party leadership and actual legal implementation. In comparing theory and practice, the crucial question is: Is a Chinese legal order possible?
Although they had a common objective, Party leaders and scholars considered law with different approaches. The Party started with practical questions of power, while scholars focused more on fundamental theoretical issues concerning law in socialist society. In the short-run, practical issues demanded immediate attention, and the Party played a positive role. In the long run, the efforts of scholars were