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Democratic centralism and administration in China

Join Sarah Biddulph, Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor International - China on her talk about the Democratic centralism and administration in China. 

March 10, 2020 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Xi Jinping’s efforts to exercise control over core concepts such as rule of law have challenged our own understandings of China’s legal development project. This paper contributes to the burgeoning literature on the Chinese version of the rule of law by suggesting that we consider the impact of the Four Cardinal Principles on the legal system. They are adherence to; Party leadership, the Socialist Road, democratic centralism and the people’s democratic dictatorship. This paper focuses particularly on the influences of democratic centralism on governance according to law. It argues that this influence can be seen at three levels; ideology, the constitution and institutional arrangement of Party and state agencies, and day to day administration. While the operation of democratic centralism at the ideological and institutional level are relatively uncontroversial, its application to day to day administration has not been extensively considered. The paper develops its argument about the influence of democratic centralism in day to day governance through an examination of campaign-style enforcement (严打式治理). First, it argues that resort to campaign-style enforcement has become such a common way to address a wide range of political and administrative problems that it has become an ordinary, not an exceptional, mode of governance. Second, the paper demonstrates how campaign-style enforcement is shaped and driven by the principles of democratic centralism. This paper concludes that the impacts of democratic centralism extend to ordinary administration and that democratic centralism contributes to understanding the ‘Chinese version of the rule of law’.
Sarah Biddulph is Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor International – China. She is also Professor of Law at the Melbourne Law School and Director of its Asian Law Centre. Sarah’s research focuses on the Chinese legal system with a particular emphasis on legal policy, law making and enforcement as they affect the administration of justice in China. Her particular areas of research are contemporary Chinese administrative law, criminal procedure, labour, comparative law and the law regulating social and economic rights. Her recent publications include The Stability Imperative: Human Rights and Law in China, Good Governance in Economic Development: International Norms and Chinese Perspectives edited with Ljiljana Biukovic, and Handbook of Human Rights in China Edward Elgar 2019 edited with Josh Rosenzweig.