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The Governance Evolution in Chinese Rural Areas and the Access to Justice — the Enlightenment of Legal Empowerment

By: Cheng Qian, Xu Yawen

Abstract: The access to justice in rural China has encountered predicaments in evolution of governance structure. For instance, local legal agencies are incapable of providing legal services; the interference of political power and governance vacuum coexist; the legal elite in rural areas are rare and modern legal systems have often repressed traditional governance norms. From the perspective of legal empowerment, farmers’ loss of legal power accounts for the major obstacle to get access to justice. Such access to justice can be achieved not only by the establishment of legal system and legal facilities but also depending on the legal empowerment for farmers. Several measures are feasible such as respecting local informal systems, developing alternative disputes resolutions and cultivating community-based paralegals in rural areas.