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Zombie legal reform?: Judicial and Administrative Law Developments after the Fourth Plenum

Date: May 5, 2021 (Wednesday)

Time: 20:00 – 21:00 (Hong Kong Time)

In the latter half of the Hu Jintao / Wen Jiabao administration, there was a common perception amongst scholars of Chinese law that the formal legal system and, in particular, adjudication of disputes, was being afforded a lesser priority, amidst increasing concerns over the maintenance of “social stability”. By contrast, rhetoric about the legal system which accompanied the new administration of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang in 2012, as well as appointments of respected legal figures to leading positions throughout the party-state legal hierarchy, delivered an impression that China might be on the cusp of a renewed “turn towards law”. To be sure, from the earliest days of the new administration, there remained clear indications that trends restricting the space for legal and other advocacy in China would continue even amidst any new prioritization of formal legal process. But the 2014 Decision of the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Party Congress seemed to augur well for new rounds of judicial and administrative law reform. Against that backdrop, this presentation will grapple with the formidable obstacles to judicial and administrative law reform that have become strikingly apparent in the years since that Fourth Plenum Decision.

Neysun A. Mahboubi

Research Scholar, Center for the Study of Contemporary China
Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
University of Pennsylvania


Angela Zhang

Associate Professor & Director of Centre for Chinese Law
The University of Hong Kong

Susan Finder

Distinguished Scholar in Residence
Peking University School of Transnational Law

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