The interaction between the millennial dominant orientations of Chinese culture and the entire impact of modernization and of Marxism-Leninism is a story that is unfolding before our eyes, and we have no neat formula for predicting its outcome
By focusing on legal reforms this Special Issue of The China Quarterly draws attention to a group of institutions whose fate is crucial for China's future. The economic reforms that have transformed China since the late 1970s are generating new institutions and transactions that demand legal definition. The surge of foreign direct investment that has made China the world's largest capital-importing country makes necessary further development of the legal framework for foreign trade and investment. More-over, forces broader and needs deeper than those produced by economic development will also help to impel Chinese law reforms.
When the Chinese leadership turned its attention to creating a legal order after the end of the Cultural Revolution, one of its expressed concerns was to reduce official arbitrariness. Even though the totalitarian grip of the Chinese Communist Party has weakened since then, concerns about arbitrariness are no less and can only increase. Furthermore, if China is to cope with the many problems that are by-products of economic reform, including a decline in social order, spreading corruption and a general crisis of values, it will need strong legal institutions and a legal culture that promotes the rule of law. The rule of law has become an issue for many more Chinese than just their leaders or intellectuals.