The judicial accountability reform in China introduced the concept of lifelong accountability, which requires prosecutors to be responsible for the cases they handle by tying their reputation and career prospects to the quality of the cases, regardless of whether they still hold those positions. To explain this lifelong accountability, this article analyzes key issues surrounding prosecutorial accountability in the Chinese context, critically examining the accountability system before the reform and the transformations brought about by the new accountability regime. It argues that although lifelong accountability is expected to be a deterrent to prosecutorial misconduct, the feasibility of the accountability mechanism is subject to doubt. The reform tries to form collective responsibility, enabling frontline prosecutors to exercise greater autonomy. However, it has not led to a paradigm shift from the predominantly bureaucratic model to prosecutorial professionalism, which demonstrates profound distrust in the prosecutor’s judgment at a fundamental level.
China’s significant reform of the national supervision system in 2016 eliminated the general power to investigate professional misconduct by the members of the procuratorate. It resulted in serious challenges to the performance of China’s procuratorial functions in terms of criminal litigation and the ability to supervise criminal litigation. To counter the potential impact and strengthen the procuratorate’s procuratorial functions, in response the Supreme People’s Procuratorate carried out three main reforms: (1) it restructured the procuratorate’s internal institutions and established four specialized criminal procuratorial departments; (2) it empowered one prosecutor with the authority to arrest and prosecute suspected criminals; and (3) it encouraged a system of detailed procuratorial sentencing recommendations. At the same time, the procuratorate developed internal and external supporting measures to ensure steady progress in procuratorial reform. To protect against potential external interference, the procuratorate promotes a more centralized management system. Internally, it has engaged in personnel reforms and made procuratorial recommendations.
This article interrogates the main events in procuratorial development from 1949 to 1961. Its aim is to better understand the procuracy during the Maoist era by reframing debates about its development along a spectrum: from primarily internal debates that challenged the development of the institution to external debates that challenged the role of the institution. These two dimensions also clarify how the procuracy reflected the politics of the time, especially issues of state construction and building legal knowledge, both within the state and among the “people.” The article shows that “internal” debates stemmed from the largely elite-centered and technocratic concerns of internal organization; “external” debates connected, instead, to broader concerns about the socialist legal project and the procuracy’s place in it. Reframing the institution’s history in this way enables us to understand the concepts and issues shaping the procuracy that crossed “period” boundaries and how responses to those challenges changed over time. Internal limitations (due to lack of resources) and external challenges (to develop flexible methods for accomplishing institutional goals while appearing to serve national objectives) are entwined, making the procuracy from 1949 to 1961 a site of tension between law and policy as well as a locus of contestation about the role of law in Maoist China.
This article explores the much-debated origins of the Confucian classic Lunyu 論語. The author examines two well-known types of repetitions in the text: doublets and formulaic phrases. The results of the analysis confirm previous research suggesting that the Lunyu is the accumulative result of various independent collections of concise anecdotes and sayings, but also indicate that these small literary items derived from more comprehensive and complex written and/or memorized compositions. As a result, this article joins recent studies on the textual history of the Lunyu that demand a new hermeneutic approach to the text and a rewriting of the literary history of pre-Qin Masters literature (zhuzi shu 諸子書). Confucian didactic dialogues and speeches such as those found in traditionally transmitted Zhou period texts and recently discovered bamboo manuscripts are to be seen as Masters literature’s primordial ancestors, while the Lunyu ought to be treated as a conglomeration of derived second-generation products.