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This Article presents portions of a book tentatively entitled "Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China After Mao." The book explores the Western vantage point from which I have viewed institutions for dispute resolution, the imprint on them of the traditional and more recent Maoist past, the disorderly context of rapid economic and social change in which they must operate today, and the larger law reforms of which they are part. Against that background it examines the operation of extrajudicial mediation and the courts. The scope of this Article is more limited.

I have not speculated here about appropriate foreign perspectives on Chinese law or about methodology at all, despite my own concern about the difficulties of cross-cultural legal study. I have chosen here to invoke the Western ideal of the rule of law here as a broad general standard by which to gauge both the operation of Chinese legal institutions and Chinese aspirations, which are after all expressed by Chinese leaders and legal scholars in terms of that standard. I am fully aware that it is itself a contested and complex principle and that it is often transformed into a moralistic slogan. This study is intended as "thick description" of institutions that are in the process of development, and the approach seems validated by Chinese sources.


Comparative and Foreign Law | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law