China: Powerhouse and Resistor of Restorative Justice Reform

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 19 April 2018


Institutes Boardroom, Room 1.12, Coombs Extension, 8 Fellows Road
ANU Canberra


Yan Zhang


School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

In this research, I am looking into a series of restorative justice (RJ) reforms promoted by Chinese government within the last decade. Specifically, as it investigates both the restorative programs that are universally implemented in Chinese criminal justice system (i.e. people’s mediation, public order mediation and criminal reconciliation), and an indigenous mediation (De Gu mediation) particularly practiced by the Yi People in an ethnic region of southwest China.

To narrate the universality and particularity of Chinese RJ, I attempt to apply a multiple-layered analytic architecture to capture how particular mecanisms and modes can operate at various levels for the analysis of restorative. Specifically, at the macro and meso level, I rely on a thick historical narrative to capture the dynamics and durabillities of the ideology, institutions and policies to answer a broad question that why the Chinese government promoted various restorative reforms within the recent decade.

Then, based on my interview and observation data, I explore the micro-implementation of various programs which are displayed by three presentation bodies: 1) Street-level bureaucracy: How the street police are interplaying with the three mediation programs in their daily life; 2) Rational choice: to look into the different postures of police, prosecutors and judges when implementing criminal reconciliation; 3) Legal pluralism: the cooperation and conflicts between state law and De Gu mediation.

Based on the multiple level analysis, I argue that with the political ideology that prioritizes social stability and harmony, China promoted the top-down reforms of various restorative practices which are deeply rooted in its history. While the actual implementation is much confronted with a conjunction of political ideology, the workload, the rational thinking of incentive and performance assessment, cultural resistance, and stakeholders’ needs etc.

About the speaker

Yan Zhang (Ian) commenced his Ph.D. program at RegNet in July 2015. His research interest is restorative justice in China. Currently, Ian is the secretary of the Asian Criminological Society and works as the managing editor of the Asian Journal of Criminology. Ian also serves as a coordinator of the Canberra Restorative Community.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet