Imagine it's 1978, and you are Deng Xiaoping. Mao Zedong has just died two years earlier. The Cultural Revolution is still fresh in everyone's minds. The economy is in shambles. The legal system has been destroyed. The Ministry of Justice was shut down, along with the Procuracy. Only a handful of law schools are open, though there are few professors around to teach, and no students. No one wants to study law. There are only 2000 lawyers, many of them trained before 1949. You have just ascended to power. What would you do?
Now imagine it's 2003, and you are the successor to Jiang Zemin. Twenty-some years of reforms have resulted in a proliferation of new laws, so many that China's lawyers, now well over 150,000 in number, have begun to specialize. The Ministry of Justice has been reestablished, as has the Procuracy. There are numerous law schools, churning out tens of thousands of lawyers every year – law now being considered a hot, and lucrative, area. For several years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has endorsed the establishment of a socialist rule-of-law state in which the government must act in accordance with law, and the new policy was expressly incorporated via amendment into the Constitution in 1999. Recent years have seen the passage of a Judges Law, Lawyers Law, Procuracy Law, and Police Law, all aimed at raising the level of professionalism of the various branches of the justice system. In addition, the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law have been amended to bring them more into line with international standards. Administrative law reforms have provided citizens with the right to sue the government, and they are increasingly taking advantage of it.
Nevertheless, foreign investors complain bitterly about the lack of rule of law; human rights activists denounce the repeated persecution of political dissidents; citizens continue to complain about judges on the take, notwithstanding the ongoing campaign to root out judicial