Hastings International and Comparative Law Review
Vol. 39, No. 1, Winter 2016, pp 167-181
Abstract: Since the late 1970s, the Chinese judiciary has undergone a continuous reform process of professionalization and institutionalization. Despite the political constraints, there are sufficient opportunities and incentives to continue China's judicial reform so as to enhance judicial capacity and rebuild trust and credibility. It is undeniable that the Chinese judiciary has been improving itself noticeably through enhancing professionalism, institutionalization and autonomy.
Judicial reform is possible because China’s authoritarian system demands for a degree of the rule of law. First, rule of law legitimizes political powers and generations of party and, without exceptions, state leaders in the reform China have invariably embraced the concept of rule of law at certain stage of terms. Second, the central government may rely on the rule of law and an effective court in particular to rein in local governments. Third, the rule of law may have proved to be the most effective mechanism for dispute resolution in the long run.
The primary function of the court from this perspective is to offer efficient dispute resolution for the vast majority of individual cases. To be effective for an institution that is politically weak, the judiciary must develop a sufficient degree of credibility that it is autonomous from political and social influences, neutral to the parties before it, and fair in applying rules. China is likely to develop a judiciary that is politically submissive, but professionally capable in offering effective and fair legal solution to disputes. Click here to download article.