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Law and Society in China

Vai Io Lo, Professor of Law, Bond University, Australia
Law and Society in China examines the interplay between law and society from imperial to present-day China. This synoptic book traces the developments of law in Chinese societies, investigates the role of law in social governance, and discusses China’s ongoing reforms towards the rule of law with Chinese characteristics. In fostering a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal and disconnected, understanding of the interaction between law and society in China, this book will reduce misconceptions about and enhance appreciation for Chinese law.
Extent: 256 pp
Hardback Price: $120.00 Web: $108.00
Publication Date: February 2020
ISBN: 978 1 78536 308 5
Availability: Not yet published (pre-order)
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  • eISBN: 978 1 78536 309 2

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  • Law - Academic
  • Asian Law
  • Criminal Law and Justice
Examining the interplay between law and society from imperial to present-day China, this synoptic book traces the developments of law in Chinese societies. Vai Io Lo investigates the role of law in social governance, discussing China’s ongoing reforms towards the rule of law with Chinese characteristics.

Offering a comprehensive overview of the interaction between law and society in China, this book simultaneously provides a glimpse of China in terms of history, polity, society, economy and philosophy. Opening with a discussion on what ‘law’ and ‘society’ are, Lo frames the discussion within the contexts of imperial China, the transitional period, the pre-reform era, and finally contemporary China.

Utilising up-to-date analyses and Chinese characters alongside key concepts explained in English, this book will be beneficial to Chinese studies and Chinese law scholars looking for a more integrated insight into the background behind contemporary Chinese law. Legal practitioners working in the field will also find this book an important reference.


‘Seeking to capture the essence of nearly four thousand years of law in China in a single monograph is a daunting challenge. Dr. Vai Io Lo has succeeded admirably. She has produced a rich, insightful, and eminently readable account that traces the development of law, both formal and informal, and the reciprocal interrelationship between law and society in China, from the dynastic era to the present.’
– Daniel H. Foote, The University of Tokyo, Japan

‘In short, Law and Society in China is a remarkable work. Comprehensive in scope but with astonishing clarity, Professor Lo provides her readers with an historical work that provides an unsurpassed introduction to Chinese law and society.’
– John O. Haley, Washington University in St. Louis, US

‘A true tour de force! No other book covers the entire history of Chinese legal system from a distinctively law-and-society perspective. Everybody who wants to gain a deeper and broader understanding of the Chinese legal system which goes beyond a particular area of contemporary Chinese law should read this book.’
– Setsuo Miyazawa, Kobe University, Japan, and Immediate Past President, Asian Law & Society Association
Contents: 1. The analytic lens 2. Law in imperial China 3. Law in transitional China 4. Law and politics in pre-reform China 5. Reform and law in contemporary China 6. The ‘rule of law’ with Chinese characteristics 7. Conclusions Index