Introduction: Law and policy for China’s market socialism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscriptpeer-review


Since its foundation in 1949 the People’s Republic has developed its legal system under the guidance of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and laws have evolved through different eras of CPC leadership. Never has the law in China been an expression of popular will. It has been shaped by very different understandings of the relationship between state and society compared to Western societies. Indeed, the struggle between ‘the socialist road and the capitalist road’ was enshrined in the 1974 Constitution.1 Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, however, China’s relationship with the law set a new course. By the end of the 1970s a fundamental change in direction had occurred to support the policies of ‘opening up’ and a ‘socialist market economy’. The pragmatic approach to the law, characteristic of Deng’s era, evolved further
under Jiang Zemin and then Hu Jintao, with a ‘rule of law’ narrative gaining unprecedented significance. In part this was due to China’s new economic directions. But this discourse also performed a legitimizing function for the CPC’s continuing power and the Chinese legal system remains a work in progress (Gillespie and Chen 2010). Jianfu Chen (2011: 109) asserts that China has in fact laid the foundations for the rule of law. Yet these ‘foundations’ are often borrowed, hybrid laws some of which are imported from foreign cultures. Some suggest this ‘hybridity’ means that China has yet to establish a ‘coherent view’ of the role of law in the governance of China.2 Guo (2011: 53) argues instead that ‘hybridity needs to be taken seriously instead of being treated as something transient’; others promote more optimistic political interpretations.3
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Policy for Chinas Market Socialism
Editors John Garrick
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-0415692854
ISBN (Print)9780203124369
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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