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The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society (FLJS) is an independent not-for-profit institution that aims to promote an understanding of the role of law in society. We identify and analyse issues of contemporary interest and importance, disseminating the insights of decision-makers and experts to a global audience through our extensive online resource of free-to-download Policy Briefings, Opinion Pieces, and multimedia podcasts.

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Are China’s Legal Reforms Stalled?

Randall Peerenboom

This brief advances two main theses. Firstly, that the perception that China’s legal system deteriorated between 1998 and 2004 is incorrect. Secondly, that it is too early to conclude that China is trapped in transition.

China is currently following the ‘East Asian model’, adapted in light of twenty-first century realities.  Time will tell if China will be as successful as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. 
The brief discusses legal reforms since 1998; places China’s performance within a  comparative context; outlines the developmental path followed by other East Asian countries; and offers some conjectures as to why so many commentators write off China as a failure.