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Ordering Power under the Party: A Relational Approach to Law and Politics in China

  • Juan WANG (a1) and Sida LIU (a2)


Existing scholarship of China’s legal institutions has primarily focused on individual institutions, such as the court, the police, or the legal profession. This article proposes a relational approach to the study of political-legal institutions in China. To understand the order and exercise of power by various political-legal institutions, the relational approach emphasizes the spatial positions of actors or institutions (the police, courts, lawyers, etc.) within the broader political-legal system and their mutual interactions. We suggest that the changing ideas of the Chinese leadership about the role of law as an instrument of governance have shaped the relations between various legal and political institutions. The interactions of these political-legal institutions (e.g. the “iron triangle” of the police, the court and the procuracy) further reveal the dynamics of power relations at work.

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Juan Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at McGill University. This Special Issue is based on contributions to the workshop, “The Internal Dynamics of Political-Legal Institutions in China” held at McGill University on 26–27 June 2017. We are grateful for the financial support from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and McGill Southeast Asia Lecture Series. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers and the workshop participants, Kwai Ng, Margaret Y. K. Woo, Peter H. Solomon, Hou Meng, Narendra Subramanian, Jeffrey Sachs, Jason Carmichael, and Elena Obkhova for their helpful comments. Correspondence to Juan Wang, 414 LEA, 855 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, Canada, H3A 2T7. E-mail address:


Sida Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.



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Ordering Power under the Party: A Relational Approach to Law and Politics in China

  • Juan WANG (a1) and Sida LIU (a2)


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