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

By Carlos Wing-Hung Lo | Go to book overview

Chapter Five The Prelude to Legal Order: The Inauguration of Criminal Justice, 1980-82

The Situation and the Degree of Progress

The year 1980 was significant in the development of legal order in China. The National People's Congress busied itself with legislation; the scope of law-making extending to civil and economic laws and most important of all, the enforcement of criminal law according to the over-arching Criminal Procedure Law. Under scrutiny was the institutional strength of the existing system in dispensing justice; and the trial of the ' Gang of Four' demonstrated the end of the previous period of lawlessness.

As noted, Party organs were mobilized to ensure the realization of the rule of law in the course of the legal reform. There were three tasks. First, Party and state bodies had to be geared to a legal framework. Second, the legal system had to be granted sufficient organizational capacity. Third, the legal system had to be enlarged to cover all social activities.


Creating the Socialist Legal Order: Gearing Party and State Activities to a Legal Framework

Prevalence of legal nihilism among Party cadres meant that establishing a 'socialist legal order' had to start with Party and state organs. Upon the resumption of a formal legal system, the Party Commission for Inspecting Discipline launched a campaign which was designated by Hu Yaobang to 'strengthen Party discipline and improve the Party's style of work'.1 This was endorsed by the Fifth Plenum in

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1
Shiyijie sanzhong quanhui yilai tizhi gaige dashi ji (A Record of Major Events in the Reform of the System Since the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee), Beijing, Chunqiu chubanshe, 1987, pp. 68-70.

-87-

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