Let One Hundered Flowers Bloom, One Hundred Schools Contend: Debating Rule of Law in China

The Article proceeds in three stages. Part I provides a brief overview of thin versions of rule of law and their relation to thick theories. Part II then takes up the four thick versions of rule of law. Part III addresses a number of thorny theoretical issues that apply to rule of law theories generally and more specifically to the applicability of rule of law to China. For instance, can the minimal conditions for rule of law be sufficiently specified to be useful? Should China’s legal system at this point be described as rule by law, as in transition to rule of law, or as an imperfect rule of law? How do we know that the goal of legal reforms in China is rule of law as opposed to a more efficient rule by law or some third alternative? Given the many different interpretations of rule of law, should we just stop referring to rule of law altogether, or at least reserve rule of law for Liberal Democratic rule of law States? Finally, turning from theory to practice, are non-Liberal Democratic rule of law systems sustainable?