People’s Mediation Committees

People’s Mediation Committees
The powerful economic, political and social forces transforming Chinese culture and society in the reform era are also changing the ways Chinese solve disputes. Established in the early years of the PRC as a means to carry socialist policies into the countryside through a merging of revolutionary organizations and traditional dispute resolution norms, the People’s Mediation Committees have re-emerged after the break-up of the communes in the 1960s and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution as the primary means to resolve minor disputes within families, workplaces, villages and urban neighbourhoods. Never meant to preclude the use of administrative and judicial courts or to deal with criminal matters, mediation committees and their volunteer members (mainly retired cadres) often provide a low-cost, timely, easily understandable and informal way to solve a range of civil conflicts.
Reforms are gradually establishing a code of civil law and court institutions, including the training of legal professionals, which the Chinese people can use to resolve disputes over complex legal issues, particularly contracts involving corporations and international investors and trade partners.
And local, national and international arbitration commissions are also an increasingly common alternative to courts in economic matters. With the standardization of training and record-keeping practices through 1989 legislation, however, mediation committees survive as a popular means for solving small, local disputes.
See also: lawyers
Lubman, S. (1999). Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China after Mao. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press: ch. 8.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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