Heaven Has Eyes: Law and Justice in Chinese History

ISBN : 9780190060046

Xiaoqun Xu
376 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Nov 2020
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Heaven Has Eyes is a comprehensive but concise history of Chinese law and justice from the imperial era to the post-Mao era. Never before has a single book treated the traditional Chinese law and judicial practices and their modern counterparts as a coherent history, addressing both criminal and civil justice. This book fills this void. Xiaoqun Xu addresses the evolution and function of law codes and judicial practices throughout China's long history, and examines the transition from traditional laws and practices to modern ones in the twentieth century. To the Chinese of the imperial era, justice was an alignment of heavenly reason (tianli), state law (guofa), and human relations (renqing). Such a conception did not change until the turn of the twentieth century, when Western-derived notions-natural rights, legal equality, the rule of law, judicial independence, and due process-came to replace the Confucian moral code of right and wrong. The legal-judicial reform agendas that emerged in the beginning of the twentieth century (and are still ongoing today) stemmed from this change in Chinese moral and legal thinking, but to materialize the said principles in everyday practices is a very different order of things, and the past century was fraught with legal dramas and tragedies. Heaven Has Eyes lays out how and why that is the case.


Introduction: Law and Justice in Chinese History
Part One: Law and Justice in Imperial China, 221 BEC-1911 CE
Chapter 1: Five Punishments and Beyond: The Evolution of Penal Codes in Imperial China
Chapter 2: From the Imperial Capital to the Magistrate's Court: Judicial Practices in Imperial China
Chapter 3: The Emperor, the Family, and the Land: Law and Order in Imperial China
Part Two: Law and Justice in Late Qing and Republican China, 1901-1949
Chapter 4: The Best of the Chinese and of the Western: Legal-Judicial Reform in the Late Qing, 1901-1911
Chapter 5: The Rule of Law, Judicial Independence, and Due Process: Ideals and Realities in the Republican Era, 1912-1949
Chapter 6: Bandits, Collaborators, and Wives/Concubines: Criminal and Civil Justice in the Republican Era, 1912-1949
Part Three: Law and Justice in Maoist China, 1949-1976
Chapter 7: Contradictions between the People and the Enemy: Criminal Justice as the Proletarian Dictatorship
Chapter 8: Contradictions among the People: Mediation and Adjudication of Civil Disputes
Part Four: Law and Justice in Post-Mao China, 1977-2018
Chapter 9: The Legal System and the Rule of Law: Changes in Criminal Justice, 1977-1996
Chapter 10: Naked Officials and Heavenly Net: Changes in Criminal Justice, 1997-2018
Chapter 11: Look toward Money: Civil Justice in Post-Mao China, 1977-2018
Conclusion: Heaven Has Eyes
Chronology of Chinese History
Chinese Character List
Selected Bibliography

About the author: 

Xiaoqun Xu is Professor of History at Christopher Newport University.

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