Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China

Sarah Biddulph. Legal Reform and Administrative Detention Powers in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Hardcover. ISBN 12 978-0-521-869040-9

In spite of China´s legal reform, the police still enjoys the power to detain those who commit minor offences without a formal charge or trial. This fact still troubles most China scholars, who consider administrative detention as a remnant of the Mao era.

Sarah Biddulph´s masterful study examines instead the impact of legal reform on administrative detention. Through a detailed analysis of three forms of detention the author proves how administrative detention powers are being reformed in "systematic and occasionally dramatic" ways. Police powers have been regularized. The emergence of a legal field in China has compelled the police to justify its detention powers by engaging in debates with other actors in the legal system.

Will the reform be conducive to the abolition of administrative detention? Over the long term we may expect some deep, structural changes to take place. But for the moment being reforms have not limited police powers, neither have they been successful in curbing their abuse.

This book is an essential reading for scholars of Chinese law and contemporary China, NGO personnel, teachers and sociologists of law.


Table of contents

Part I. Introduction and Conceptual Framework:

1. The problems of legal reform of police administrative detention powers;
2. The legal field and the process of legal reform since 1978;

Part II. Social Order and Administrative Detention;

3. Historical antecedents: the 1950s and administrative detention;
4. Social order, the 'hard strike' and administrative detention powers;
5. Revival of administrative detention in the reform era: prostitutes and drug addicts;
6. Re-education through labour;

Part III. Legal Reform and its Impact on Administrative Detention:

7. Building a legal environment for police detention;
8. Supervision of police conduct: legalisation and contest;
9. Legal reform catches up with administrative detention;

Part IV. Analysis and Conclusion:

10. The field of law, the force of law and the powers that be.

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