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Preface and Acknowledgements

The idea to prepare an academic analysis of the latest development in dispute resolution in China was conceived some years ago. Initially, we observed the phenomenal development of institutions, mechanisms and processes and frequent issuance of new rules and measures as well as revision to existing laws, but soon we noticed some rather rapid development in the promotion of mediation as the preferred method for resolving disputes. More recently, we have further observed the promotion of an integrated dispute resolution system as a national strategy for comprehensive social control as well as for dispute resolution, in the name of ‘reforming and strengthening the Mechanism for Pluralist Dispute Resolution’. It was these intensive and extensive reforms that propelled our decision to undertake a comprehensive examination of dispute resolution mechanisms in China and, hence, to write this book.

Our approach to the study is, first, to undertake a close examination of this rapid development in civil and commercial dispute resolution. Such an examination will, we hope, facilitate a solid understanding of the motivation(s) that propelled these various reforms and the very nature of these developments. Second, we have placed these developments in a comparative perspective and a cross-cultural context. We do so to ensure that ‘oriental myths’ are dispelled and China is examined as a global player competing in a largely commercial and commercialised world, albeit with its own cultural heritage and traditional perspectives. While this book is not a comparative law book on dispute resolution, we have nevertheless drawn comparisons between China and Western countries where such comparisons are necessary and appropriate to assist efforts seeking to understand the inherent differences of dispute resolution in China. In this regard, we have not neglected either the Chinese historical, cultural and political context in which dispute resolution mechanisms operate.

Needless to say, writing a book is an endeavour of many years and, on this occasion, it is also an enterprise of collaboration over an extended period of time. After so many attempts at drafting, revision and redrafting it is difficult to allocate individual credits or responsibilities for the writing of this book. Suffice it to say that this is a product of collaboration with equal contribution from each of us and we are jointly responsible for any errors that might remain.

Undertaking such an enterprise cannot be successful without institutional support. We are most grateful to our respective institutions—Western Sydney University Law School and La Trobe University Law School—both of which have strongly supported our research. Our students have been the first audience to test our understandings and theories and they have never failed to offer their honest views and opinions on our analysis. We have also presented some of our early writings at conferences and seminars, and we are most appreciative of the comments made by colleagues on these occasions. Many friends and colleagues in China, Australia and other countries have in various ways provided us with generous support, assistance and friendship, and we are most grateful to them all.

A special thank you to our publisher, Ms Lindy Melman, for her patience with our writing progress, but especially for her kind permission to use materials from Chinese Law: Context and Transformation (by Jianfu Chen, Brill/Nijhoff 2016), from which we have indeed drawn and made use of the materials therein for the different chapters of this book. In particular, we acknowledge that Chapters 1 (historical development) and 2 (institutional setting) of the present book represent, to some extent, revised and updated summaries of materials from Chapters 1, 2 and 4 of the above-mentioned Chinese Law, as we have drawn materials extensively from these three chapters. Some early materials on judicial reforms have also been included in an article on Circuit Tribunals in China that was published as Zhiqiong June Wang and Jianfu Chen, ‘Will the Establishment of Circuit Tribunals Break Up the Circular Reforms in the Chinese Judiciary’, (2019) 14(1) Asian Journal of Comparative Law 91. We acknowledge the kind permission of the journal publisher for us to reuse some of the materials published therein.

The Chinese laws and materials cited are those that have been available to us as of 1 June 2019, unless another date is given.