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Understanding Public Perceptions of Chinese Law and the Legal System: Legal Experiences Matter

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/02/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>China: an International Journal
Issue number1
Volume22
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)164-181
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Over the past decade, Chinese law has undergone a considerable number of major reforms, ranging from the high-profile constitutional amendments to the implementation of multiple online platforms, which have significantly altered legal practice and the judicial process. While scholarly debate remains split over whether China is turning away from law or is becoming more legalistic, there is little empirical understanding of how Chinese law and the legal system are perceived by those most affected by it, namely the Chinese citizens. This article fills the critical gap by leveraging an original public opinion survey of more than 5,000 Chinese adults to examine their views on issues such as the importance of law and the status of legal development in relation to economic growth. The findings suggest that Chinese citizens with actual experience of the legal system—whether from study, practice or personal involvement in litigation—hold vastly different views on many of these issues from those without such experience. The findings also suggest that important policy initiatives introduced by the Chinese leadership and the judiciary, such as the emphasis on constructing a socialist rule of law and the potential introduction of some system of case law, may enjoy popular support.