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Title: Suing dragons? : taking the Chinese state to court
Author: Givens, John Wagner
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 3400
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This dissertation analyses the ability of Chinese lawyers to use administrative litigation to protect individuals and groups from an authoritarian state that frequently infringes on their rights. These plaintiffs fill administrative courts in China, opposing the overzealous tactics of police, challenging the expropriation of their land, and disputing the seizure and demolition of their homes. Empirically, it relies on several unique data sources in a mixed-methodological approach. Qualitative and small-n quantitative data from 126 interviews with a random sample of Chinese lawyers and 52 additional interviews are supplemented by documentary sources. These findings are then tested against official data and a large survey of Chinese lawyers. This research demonstrates that administrative litigation is part of a polycentric authoritarian system that helps the Chinese state to monitor its agents, allows limited political participation, and facilitates economic development (Chapter One). By giving ordinary Chinese a chance to hold their local governments accountable in court, administrative litigation represents a significant step towards rule of law, but its limited scope means that it has not been accompanied by dramatic liberalisation (Chapter Three). In part, this is because the most prolific and successful administrative litigators are politically embedded lawyers, insiders who challenge the state in court but eschew the most radical cases and tactics (Chapter Four). The tactics that allow politically embedded lawyers to successfully litigate administrative cases rely on and contribute to China’s polycentric authoritarianism by drawing in other state, quasi-state, and non-state actors (Chapter Five). Multinationals in China are largely failing to contribute to the development of China’s legal system because they readily accept preferential treatment from the Chinese state as an alternative to litigation (Chapter Six). While administrative litigation bolsters China’s polycentric authoritarianism in the short term, it offers tremendous potential for rationalisation, liberalisation, and even democratisation in the long term.
Supervisor: Paul, Martin; Shue, Vivenne Sponsor: Clarendon Fund Scholarship ; Leverhulme Trust ; Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Comparative Law ; Constitutional & administrative law ; Intellectual property ; Property law ; Local Government ; Political science ; Public policy ; Public administration ; Civil Rights ; Statistics (social sciences) ; China ; law ; lawyers ; lourts ; legal ; politics ; administrative litigation ; contentious politics ; rule of law