China Table of Contents
Following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911, China came under the control of rival warlords and had no government strong enough to establish a legal code to replace the Qing code. Finally, in 1927, Chiang Kai-shek's Guomindang forces were able to suppress the warlords and gain control of most of the country (see Republican China , ch. 1). Established in Nanjing, the Guomindang government attempted to develop Western-style legal and penal systems. Few of the Guomindang codes, however, were implemented nationwide. Although government leaders were striving for a Western-inspired system of codified law, the traditional Chinese preference for collective social sanctions over impersonal legalism hindered constitutional and legal development. The spirit of the new laws never penetrated to the grass-roots level or provided hoped-for stability. Ideally, individuals were to be equal before the law, but this premise proved to be more rhetorical than substantive. In the end, most of the new laws were discarded as the Guomindang became preoccupied with fighting the Chinese Communists and the invading Japanese.
Data as of July 1987