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Rule of Law in China Series
On September 25, 2014, the academic symposium on "Rule of Law and the Future of China" and the press conference for new books in the "Rule of Law in China" series were successfully held in Shanghai. The academic forum was co sponsored by the Editorial Committee of the "Rule of Law in China" series and the Sociology of Law Research Society of the Shanghai Law Society, and hosted by the Kaiyuan School of Law of KoGuan Law School. The symposium was attended by about 20 famous experts and scholars from the domestic legal, political, economic and humanities and social sciences circles, representing different theoretical schools and propositions, trying to seek basic social consensus for the realization of the grand goal of rule of law.

In the mid stage of the symposium, a press conference was also held for the new books of the "Rule of Law in China" series. Assistant Editor Gao Shan, President of the Academic Branch of Law Publishing House, introduced the latest "Rule of Law in China" series published by Law Publishing House to everyone. At present, a total of six works have been published in the "Rule of Law in China" series:


"The Road to the Rule of Law" by Ji Weidong

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"The Rule of Law east and west" by Yu Xingzhong

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"The History of Democracy" by Xu Liangying and Wang Laidi

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"Knowledge and Practice of Judicial Reform" by Jiang Huiling

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"Rule of Law, Finance and Taxation, and National Governance" by Xiong Wei

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"The Road to a Strong Country: Breaking and Establishing the Rule of Law in Finance and Taxation" by Liu Jianwen
(Published by Social Science Literature Press due to special reasons)

Why will the rule of law become the focus of China in the future?

From the current political situation, the rule of law is becoming the focus of China's future development and a direction for governance reform. There should be a basic consensus on this, and this consensus should be elevated to the basic consensus of the whole country. Why? The reason is very concise.

Firstly, the unified governance model of power can no longer adapt to the pattern of social diversity. Different interest groups need to express their own opinions, and contradictions and conflicts may arise between different opinions. So, a coordination mechanism is needed. Expressions should have representatives, coordination should have public forums, and the combination of these two is representative democracy. If there are different interest propositions in society and different interest groups are formed, then the state power cannot say that I only represent the interests of one party, nor can I represent the interests of everyone, because different interests are contradictory and conflicting with each other. Legal professionals all know a common sense: agents with opposite interests are not acceptable. If a law firm accepts a case and encounters clients with opposite interests, they can only represent one party and avoid the other. If the law firm says that I represent both Party A and Party B, or quietly act as an agent with opposite interests, it is against professional ethics and will definitely not gain the trust of either party. In other words, when Social polarization is divided into different interest groups and the people are no longer imagined as an abstract whole, the state power must be neutralized, standing in a detached and impartial position, to coordinate the contradictions and conflicts between different interest groups. Of course, to what extent can the neutrality of a country be achieved? Is it true? It is an eternal political science topic that requires specific analysis based on facts. However, in terms of ideology, countries that pursue good governance must strive towards neutrality, otherwise they will struggle in a diversified situation. If the government intervenes too much, even competing for benefits with the people, it will lose its transcendent status and fair authority, leading to a crisis of trust. Why is it popular in China today to "take up a bowl to eat meat and put down chopsticks to scold women"? Why does the government do a lot of things, but the results always seem unsatisfactory, even the officials themselves are full of complaints? In the final analysis, it is just one sentence: if one is not neutral, there is no trust.

Secondly, the market competition mechanism requires the rule of law. Based on the above analysis, it can be recognized that the basic direction of our future political reform is to move from "legal pluralism and power pluralism" to "legal pluralism and power pluralism". This formula is slightly simplified, but it is beneficial for clarifying the visual and auditory aspects and setting things right. To put it another way, the basic direction of political reform is to move towards the rule of law, which is an inevitable trend and natural choice after 30 years of reform and opening up. Specifically, as long as there is a market, there will be competition, functional differentiation, group differentiation, and different interest groups. To what extent is this competition free and how can it be fair? This is an unavoidable fundamental issue. This involves the rules of the game. Only when everyone is competing under the same set of game rules can we talk about fair competition. Only when this set of game rules is recognized and followed by everyone can we talk about free competition. Of course, the rules of the game are only a necessary condition for fairness and freedom, not a sufficient condition. But this necessary condition comes first. If there are no game rules or no adherence, how can there be fairness and freedom?! It is in this sense that market competition inevitably requires the rule of law, which is a prerequisite for free and fair competition. At the same time, after competition, there will inevitably be survival of the fittest, and it is necessary to carry out remedial measures - liquidating debts, compensating losses, and starting anew, all of which need to be properly arranged in the legal system. When making investments and transactions, the parties involved need to estimate risks and calculate the gains and losses caused by various possible consequences, which also require the legal system to provide predictability, computability, and comparability. So, it is not difficult for us to come to the conclusion that modern market economy is based on the rule of law as the basic institutional condition, otherwise it would be difficult for it to develop soundly and sustainably.

Thirdly, beware of the rule of law going astray. Of course, the path towards the rule of law is not smooth. Recent cases have shown that the rule of law may also go astray. Here we will only discuss legal issues and important cases related to the economy, such as the Wu Ying case and the Zeng Chengjie case. The specific facts and plot are familiar to everyone, so I won't go into detail about the content. Here, we will focus on how to grasp the significance of the Wu Ying case and the Zeng Chengjie case. As we all know, China's rapid economic growth has an important factor at play, which is the so-called "Demographic dividend". Before the Lewis turning point in Development economics, if developing countries can make full use of the Demographic dividend, there will be prosperity. The main mechanism of rapid economic growth is: from the perspective of capital, a large amount of foreign investment has entered, and high savings rates have led to a continuous increase in infrastructure and industrial investment. From the perspective of labor, a large number of rural surplus population come to work in cities, and the population structure is very young; If the birth rate is low, it will further reduce the burden of the Cost of living and increase the savings rate. From the perspective of Total factor productivity, the level of technology, management, education, transportation, services, and administration has been greatly improved to promote economic growth. Prices and wages at this stage are very stable. However, after the Lewis turning point, wages and prices began to rise, and the Demographic dividend tended to dry up. From then on, further economic development depends on structural reforms, which must focus on improving economic efficiency and added value, encouraging technological innovation and competition, and allowing productivity to develop faster than wages and prices. When did China pass the Lewis turning point? The sudden shortage of migrant workers in Guangdong in 2006 can be taken as a symbol. This means that from then on, China can no longer rest in the Demographic dividend, must promote economic restructuring, must promote market competition, and must put improving efficiency and added value in the first place. It must be pointed out that although state-owned enterprises can concentrate their efforts on major tasks and have certain scale and policy advantages in participating in international competition, history has proven that state-owned enterprises are not very efficient. This also means that the policy of "Guo jin min tui" can no longer produce the expected effect as before the Lewis turning point, but needs to strengthen the market competitiveness and technological innovation of enterprises as soon as possible, and needs to cultivate a large number of private entrepreneurs. If we recognize this reality and problem situation, then we need to provide necessary institutional conditions and legal protection for private entrepreneurs to showcase their skills. Especially, it is necessary to protect the entrepreneurial enthusiasm of private entrepreneurs, provide convenience for business operations and transactions, and prevent a large outflow of private capital from impacting the real economy. In this context, when examining China's laws and trials, it must be said that there are some deviant biases. In fact, the Wu Ying case and the Zeng Chengjie case, especially the latter, convey opposite signals. I am not sure about the true background of the Zeng Chengjie case and cannot make arbitrary judgments, but one thing is very clear. The objective effect of handling this case is to make private entrepreneurs feel scared, feel sad about the death of a rabbit, and have an impulse to escape. From the disclosed information, it can be seen that there is indeed a problem of illegal fundraising, and it is also necessary to hold accountable. But it must be recognized that such private fundraising activities are related to the institutional environment. Because the private financing system has no conditions for development and is also related to the local government, as government officials encouraged such fundraising activities at that time. After a sudden change in the situation, the responsibility for illegal fundraising should be pursued. During the process of handling the case, the defendant's assets were sold off in large quantities, and there were issues with the process and resource flow of the sale, and there was even suspicion of looting and distribution. The possible debts that could have been paid could no longer be paid, and in the end, the defendant was sentenced to death, executed hastily, and even relatives did not know the content of the judgment until after the person's death. If this description is true, it does make people shudder. If this could also be called the rule of law, it would be ridiculous. On the other hand, if these widely circulated descriptions in the cyberspace are not true, then we can also see that society's trust in public power is already extremely low, and the authority of the judiciary is also extremely low. Moreover, the plot of the Wu Ying case is similar to that of the Zeng Chengjie case, but the results are different: one was not sentenced to death, while the other was sentenced to death, and they appeared to act hastily, which can easily make people suspicious. Regardless of the truth, the Zeng Chengjie case and the discussions surrounding it objectively convey a signal that promoting the so-called rule of law may lead astray. If we cannot turn the situation around in a timely manner, a judicial crisis will be imminent. Given this situation, it can be said that judicial reform is also urgent, and we must reshape the authority and reputation of the court, otherwise the problem will be very serious.

——Excerpt from Professor Ji Weidong's speech on August 25, 2013 on the "Symposium on the Content of the Original manuscript of 'The Road to the Rule of Law'"