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The Contentious Public SphereLaw, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China$
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Ya-Wen Lei

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196145

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196145.001.0001

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The Chinese State’s Turn to Law and Rights

The Chinese State’s Turn to Law and Rights

(p.35) 3 The Chinese State’s Turn to Law and Rights
The Contentious Public Sphere

Ya-Wen Lei

Princeton University Press

This chapter illuminates the contentious culture and practices based on the law and rights, discussing why and how law and rights became a critical part of China's political culture and a central theme in China's contentious public sphere. First, the chapter briefly situates the PRC government's turn to law and rights, as well as the rise of legal and rights consciousness, in a longer historical context. Then it traces how a series of problems that emerged following the Cultural Revolution motivated the government's turn to law and rights, as well as its campaign to transform Chinese people into legal subjects. Finally, the chapter describes law dissemination on the ground and its consequences. Because the chapter serves to explain the rise of China's contentious public sphere in the post-2005 period, the focus is primarily on developments in China's legal system before the mid-2000s.

Keywords:   Chinese law, contentious culture, political culture, Cultural Revolution, Chinese legal system

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