Document Type


Publication Date



Xinfang, Chinese Law, administrative litigation, Chinese legal history, administrative grievances


In recent years, the Chinese public, when facing disputes with government officials, have preferred a non-legal means of resolution, the Xinfang system, over litigation. Some scholars explain this by claiming that administrative litigation is less effective than Xinfang petitioning. Others argue that the Chinese have historically eschewed litigation and continue to do so habitually. This paper proposes a new explanation: Chinese have traditionally litigated administrative disputes, but only when legal procedure is not too adversarial and allows for the possibility of reconciliation through court-directed settlement. Since this possibility does not formally exist in modern Chinese administrative litigation, people tend to avoid it.


This is the draft English version of an article that was first published in Chinese (2009(3) Shehui Xue Yanjiu [Sociological Stud.] 139).

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dispute resolution (Law), China