Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

"rule by law" (法制) and "rule of law" (法治)

There is a confusion of "rule by law" (法制) and "rule of law" (法治) in Chinese Context. Their meanings are totally different. Rule of law is the respect for law, and is above the Party-state. Rule by law is using the law as a tool. It could serve the Party-state's purpose that is above the law. So "rule by law" equals to rule of Party by law. In Chinese history, the legalist (法家) tradition is an example of "rule by law".

What has been practiced in China now is rule by law not rule of law. The authorities now use both 法制 (rule by law) and 法治 (rule of law) in Chinese, probably deliberately to confuse Chinese people and deceive the international community. But in their English media, they only use rule of law.

Now one of most frequent words used by Chinese authorities on human rights dialogues with  other countries or EU, and the media affiliated to the party-state,  is governing the country according to law (依法治国) or rule of law.

The party's interference in judicial decisions by Political & Legal committee (政法委) and Adjudication Committee (审判委员会) . The communist party’s interference and control of the courts is put into practice through the PLC outside and above the court, as well as through the Adjudication Committee inside each court.

The PRC National People’s Congress (NPC)’s draft ninth amendment to the Criminal Law  can effectively encroach on citizens’ legal rights and human rights rather than to protect human rights. The amendments  would amend the Criminal Law in areas involving: terrorism (Article 120), information security and Internet crimes (Article 286), reprisals against witnesses and disrupting court proceedings (Articles 308 and 309), and sex crimes against the girl child (Article 360). See more


About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts