Fazhi vs/and/or Rule of Law?: A Semiotic Venture into Chinese Law
ABSTRACT. The paper is an investigation of fazhi (rule of law) in China. The study proposes a tentative semiotic framework for the interpretation of the rule of law as a legal concept to be applied to China in the light of its recent incorporation into the Chinese Constitution. The paper argues that legal concepts such as the rule of law are triadic in nature and their constituents are relative, relational and contextual in the semiotic interpretative process. The study examines how the concept can be explicated with the thin or formal theory of the rule of law as a frame of reference, and how the semiotic model may contribute to the understanding of the Chinese rule of law or the lack thereof. This approach also attempts to account for the gap between the legal ideal and reality in China and canvasses cross-cultural considerations. In the first part of the paper, a semiotic framework for legal concepts is postulated for constructing the meaning of the rule of law, followed by its application to contemporary China.
International Journal for the Semiotics of law (Revue Internationale de Semiotique Juridique)