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[Master's Lecture Series] Zhu Suli: Social Transformation and Judicial reform of China

Peking University, Nov. 13, 2014: On the morning of Oct. 28th, at North Wing Hall of PKU Library came the third of Master's Lecture Series—rule of law. The lecture was delivered by Professor Zhu Suli, former Dean of Peking University Law School and expert in jurisprudence, focusing on the significance and necessity of judicial reform from the perspective of social transformation.

At the beginning of the lecture, Professor Zhu brought about his understanding of "rule of law". "Rule of law denotes a state of social life which has its own rules and regularity." Then he explored further, "A set of rules are in great need to cultivate society, including the rule of law. The law promises us a stable expectation and offers general guidance of the future."

Professor Zhu pointed out that the conception of "rule of law" has existed in Chinese society since ancient times. "China possesses a large territory. In the past, laws played an important role in the centralization of power. These laws were mostly applied to the official behaviors. Yet in interpersonal relations, moral ethics were the invisible standards as a result of the acquaintance society."

"The acquaintance society has shaped people's behaviors. People living in the same neighborhood were quite familiar with each other. Therefore, they would behave themselves because of their connections with the community," professor Zhu explained. "However, a turning point appeared in 1992. Since the establishment of socialist market economy, China has begun its transition from acquaintance society to stranger society."

Then, Professor Zhu introduced the changes in this process. "In a society of strangers, the rule of law becomes the most important regulatory tool in the adjustment of interpersonal relations. The rules of market economy also call upon laws to function, for instance, justice, equality and non-discrimination." This is why laws have been in the spotlight ever since.

Social transformation requires judicial reform. "The flow of information and people has been enlarged, so is the gap between the high-income and low-income. Laws are encouraged to be updated with these social changes, such as establishing emergency disposal mechanism and improving welfares of low-income people."

"Rule of law should be advanced amid a nationwide drive." At the end of the speech, Professor Zhu called upon a collective effort to this principle.

Reported by: Meng Yiran
Edited by: Li Ruiqi