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Chinese law-making in recent years has been nothing less than remarkable and presents a new challenge for research today. The recent adoption of new codes, the revival of formal legal institutions, including courts and the bar, and the reinvigoration of legal education and research all signal the reappearance of an entire field of study.

Although a foundation for study was laid by some scholars in the 1960's, the field later declined, reflecting the low condition to which the Chinese legal system fell, both before and during the disastrous Cultural Revolution. Once again, however, study of the operation of the Chinese legal system and, more importantly, of its complex interaction with Chinese society, promises insights for the patient foreign student.

This article first surveys the development and current state of Western, particularly U.S., studies of modern Chinese law and then notes some of the many questions of interest that the current reconstruction of Chinese legal institutions present to students of Chinese law. It is one specialist's impression and assessment of some of the work done in the recent past that should be helpful today. It also suggests that current trends in China, if continued, may extend the scope for research well beyond the reach of existing scholarship.


Comparative and Foreign Law | Law | Legal Writing and Research