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Australian Journal of Asian Law

Abstract from Volume 6 No 3 (2005)

Ideology or Reality? Limited Judicial Independence in Contemporary Rural China

Xe Hin is Lecturer of Law at the City University of Hong Kong.

This article challenges the popular view that judicial independence will be achieved in China if the judiciary can become more financially independent. Instead, it argues that contentious state-peasant relations have been a primary cause of limits upon judicial independence in rural China. Due to the nature of these relations, which arise because the expansion of state bureaucratic institutions has not been accompanied by adequate financial resources, it has become imperative for the judiciary and the executive to co-operate with each other in the interest of social control. This is exemplified by administrative litigation over excessive levies imposed by local governments. In such circumstances, the judiciary has to strike a balance between the law and the need of local government for social stability. So long as contentious state-peasant relations persist, it is unrealistic to expect the situation of limited judicial independence to be greatly improved, no matter what ideology is held by the Chinese leadership.

(2005) 6(3) Asian Law 213

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