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The Construction of Guilt in China

An Empirical Account of Routine Chinese Injustice

By: Yu Mou
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Published: 02-04-2020
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 280
ISBN: 9781509913022
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Studies in International and Comparative Criminal Law
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP : £70.00

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Loren Epson

About The Construction of Guilt in China

Drawing on insights from the author's own empirical data obtained from systematic observation of the daily routines within Chinese criminal justice institutions, this ground-breaking book examines the functional deficiency of the criminal justice system in preventing innocent individuals from being wrongly accused and convicted.

Set within a broad socio-legal context, this book outlines the strategic interrelationships between key legal actors, the deep-seated legal culture embedded in practice, the deficiency of integrity of the system and the structural injustices that follow. The author traces criminal case files in the criminal process – how they are constructed, scrutinised and used to dispose of cases and convict defendants in lieu of witnesses' oral testimony. This book illustrates that the Chinese criminal justice system as a state apparatus of social control has been framed through performance indicators, bureaucratic management and the central value of collectivism in such a way as to maintain the stability of the authoritarian power.

The Construction of Guilt in China will appeal to academics, researchers, policy advisers and practitioners working in the areas of criminal law, comparative criminal justice/criminology, as well as in Chinese studies.


“This path-breaking empirical account of Chinese criminal justice takes the reader inside the offices of the public prosecutor to understand the ways in which criminal cases are constructed against suspects – first by the police, reinforced by the prosecutor and endorsed by the judiciary. Rules and procedures set out a legal rhetoric of independent prosecutorial oversight, but in practice, prosecutors are required to confirm police accounts and are rewarded for high conviction rates. Underpinned by extensive fieldwork and presented thoughtfully for the non-Chinese law expert, this is an important piece of scholarship within the field of comparative criminal law and justice.” –  Professor Jacqueline S Hodgson, University of Warwick,

“This path-breaking book gets directly into the heart of the Chinese criminal justice. Its detailed description of police interrogation and the penetrating analysis of the legal and political context bring a fresh understanding of the centrality of police dossiers in the construction of criminal cases in China.” –  Professor Hualing Fu, Warren Chan Professor of Human Rights and Responsibilities, The University of Hong Kong,

“This is a wonderfully rich ethnographic study of the criminal process in China. Mou exposes the deep connection between the flaws of the process and its institutional design, including in particular the many pressures on institutional actors within the criminal process. Her work is a compelling indictment of a system structurally set up, as she argues, to produce miscarriages of justice, and a fascinating, timely and important contribution to research on law in action in China.” –  Professor Eva Pils, King's College London,

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