New Article on Judicial Corruption in China

Another interesting article on corruption in China, this one focusing on bribery in the courts.   Here’s the abstract:

Despite its rampant presence, judicial corruption in China has often been regarded as the idiosyncratically deviant behavior of a few black sheep eluding prescribed judicial conduct. This entrenched assumption has both discouraged in-depth investigation of the phenomenon of judicial corruption and inhibited proper understanding of the functioning of China’s courts. This article, based on an empirically grounded examination of the processing of court rulings tainted by corruption, showed that judicial corruption in China is an institutionalized activity systemically inherent in the particular decision-making mechanism guided by the Chinese Communist Party’s instrumental rule-by-law ideal. In investigating what has contributed to the institutionalization of judicial corruption, the interplay between law and party politics in China’s courts was also examined. The findings, therefore, also shed light on behind-the-courtroom judicial activities and on the enduring perplexity of the gap between the law in the book and the law in action.

The primary source of data is media reports on 388 cases report in Chinese media between 2005 and 2008 as archived on internet news portals.  I too am using local newspapers to build a database of corruption incidents in Indonesia, but I would have thought that this data source would have been much more problematic in a country such as China than Indonesia.  Of course a more thorough reading of the article is warranted.

The author, Ling Li, is a senior research fellow at the US-Asia Law Institute at New York University.  Here’s a link to the article on Law and Social Inquiry’s website (subscription required) and below is the complete citation.

Ling Li, “The ‘Production’ of Corruption in China’s Courts: Judicial Politics and Decision Making in a One‐Party State,” Law & Social Inquiry (2012),


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