Dependent Judiciary and Unaccountable Judges: Judicial Corruption in Contemporary China

Gong, Ting
September 2004
China Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Greater China;Fall2004, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p33
Academic Journal
This article examines a particular form of corruption — judicial corruption. It goes beyond the attribution of generalized behavioural pitfalls in corruption analysis to identify the main institutional and organizational constraints shaping the corrupt conduct of judiciary agents. Judicial corruption, in both political and personal forms, is closely associated with two major characteristics of China's judicial institutions — political dependence and lack of accountability. The structural dependence of the judiciary increases the incidence of political corruption, as judicial officials surrender legal standards and professional integrity to external political or economic pressure. Meanwhile, the internal structure of the judiciary is such that it permits judicial officials to undertake individual corrupt activities, as they are usually not held strictly accountable for what they do. Because judicial rulings concern the distribution of wealth and power, a structurally deficient judiciary means more opportunities for corruption and a venal judiciary leads to impunity for corrupt activities of all sorts. This explains the rampancy of corruption in the judicial institutions themselves and in society at large in China.


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