Civics: Party Ideology and Chinese Law

Rogier Creemers:

This chapter elaborates on the claim that ideology provides a useful lens to understand the development of the Chinese legal system. In spite of expectations both inside and outside of China, this system does not seem to be evolving towards a “rule of law” in the Western sense of the term. This chapter claims such expectations were based on an approach paying short shrift to the role of the Party in developing the legal system, and its ideology in particular. It further analyses CCP ideology in the light of three political questions: what is the purpose of politics, who should be in charge and what methods should they use. Lastly, it explores the impact of the answers to these questions on the trajectory of law in China. It suggests there many of the perceived flaws in the legal systems are logical consequences of its ideological structuring, or even fundamental features. Specifically, it finds that legal rationality in China remains tightly circumscribed in its scope of application, ideology is a potent tool to provide meaning to political terminology, and discipline the CCP’s organisation.