The Great Hall of the People is silhouetted against the setting sun in Beijing, October 23, 2014.
Kim Kyung-Hoon / Courtesy Reuters

China’s quest to establish greater rule of law started with the country’s 15th Party Congress in 1997. It was an expedient move: China's economic machine was kicking into high gear, and ascension to the World Trade Organization was imminent. Both would require a legal regime that, at the very least, protected property rights and regulated commercial dealings. Since then, the legal profession has boomed in China. The country boasts an extensive network of courts and numerous official channels through which citizens can seek redress for grievances against the government. At the same time, however, corruption has exploded.

And so it was with a sense of urgency that the Fourth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee meeting convened last week to unveil comprehensive legal reforms meant to buttress Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature anticorruption campaign. Many of the announced reforms echo those in the Five-Year Reform Plan of the Supreme

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