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Criminal Courts in China Transition: Inquisitorial Procedure to Adversarial Procedure?

NCJ Number
Crime & Justice International Volume: 15 Issue: 25 Dated: February 1999 Pages: 13-21
W. Liu; Y. Situ
Date Published
February 1999
9 pages
This article reviews changes in the Chinese criminal court and presents a tentative conclusion about the nature of these changes.
China's criminal procedure has been an inquisitorial system since 1979, when the country's first coded criminal procedure law was enacted. The system features extensive pretrial investigation and interrogations and focuses on the role of the judge. The 1979 Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) were designed to be a tool of class struggle and a protection of the socialist state. It strikes the enemies of the Communist Party and the state and protects the people. The adversarial system, represented by Anglo-American tradition, places less emphasis on pretrial investigation, is based on a presumption of innocence, focuses on the court trial proceedings and grants equal status to the prosecution and the defense. Since the 1980s, the Chinese have become less ideological and more pragmatic in their legal practices, reflecting the growing needs of an open market economy. The reformed system, a mix of the adversarial and the inquisitorial, grants many rights to the defendant, allows the victim to initiate private prosecution of a defender, and regulates appearances of witnesses in court. The political nature of the legal system is clearly demonstrated by the Communist Party's ultimate control. References