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UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal

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The Political Economy of Rule of Law in Middle-Income Countries: A Comparison of Eastern Europe and China


There has been an explosion of interest in rule of law in recent decades and growing interest in middle-income countries (MICs) among economists and development specialists, including the World Bank. However, there has been relatively less work done on rule of law in MICs and the special issues MICs face in developing a functional legal system. This is preliminary attempt to understand some of issues facing MICs as they seek to establish rule of law. To keep the scope manageable given the wide diversity of MICs, I compare Eastern European MICs and China. Part II provides a brief introduction to MICs and general issues they face. Part III provides a broad empirical comparison of Eastern European countries, the Baltics and former soviet republics, and China. Parts IV to VI discuss rule of law issues in Eastern Europe, with comparisons to China, focusing on lustration issues, implementation gaps, and the very different performance of constitutional and regular courts. Part VII turns to recent debates about the role of courts in China, and the controversial crackdown on social and political cause lawyering. Part VIII concludes.

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