Jonas Grimheden


In the later part of 2007 China will be at yet another watershed moment. The 17th Party Congress will be held, where new leaders of China will jockey into position. Will these leaders proceed on the slow and cautious trail set out by their predecessors? Will they regress to the demands of the ultra-conservative “left-wingers”? Or will the likely rejuvenated leadership be bold enough to face the many challenges with a more progressive agenda? This Essay addresses these questions by briefly describing and analyzing the development and the potential of the Chinese judiciary. In this analysis, the judiciary functions more generally as an indicator of legal and even political reforms. Part I of this Essay explains China's current position and its possible avenues for the future. Part II briefly elaborates on the imperial history of the Chinese judiciary. Part III describes the reform process over the last twenty-five years, focusing on the more recent developments. Part IV analyzes the present situation, concluding with some thoughts on the future reform process as an indication of where the broader reform agenda is--or must be--heading.