Legal principles and Chinese law: A philosophical investigation

Bo Zhao

Research output: Book/ReportBookScientific


This book offers an unorthodox account of the concept of legal principle - perhaps the most controversial concept in legal scholarship - by combining western legal theory and Chinese legal practice. The unbalanced development of the present Chinese society that has led to many social problems frames the debates in the book. The author argues that a possible effective legal resolution can be found in an emphasis on legal principles. The author probes at the different functions of rules and principles in legal development. He shows how principles, together with rules, play a significant role in securing the interests of a society in the long run. The author postulates that principles represent the fundamental goals and values of a legal system that has a long term nature. In contrast, policies focus more on short term goals and ends. The book further explores the two contradicting characteristics of principles - a hard characteristic prescribing certain bottom lines to be secured, and a soft characteristic driving to optimize desired goals and values. Given these contrasting characteristics, the relationship between rules and principles and between policies and principles is redefined accordingly so rules, principles and policies are not contradictory but complementary. Applying the analysis to recent Chinese law developments, the author concludes that the current transitional period of development lacks solid legal principles through which China's future interests can be protected and upheld.The short term approach from inconsistent policies - legal or political, which are pervasive in the present Chinese society - restricts the much needed long term legal protection and undoubtedly endangers China's sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hage
PublisherBoom juridisch
Number of pages192
ISBN (Electronic)9089741003, 9789089741004
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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