China's accession to the World Trade Organization has presented the leaders in Beijing with the formidable challenge of establishing an independent judicial review system. Yet, empirical research conducted by Dr. Veron Hung in key locales in China since 1998 reveal that the judicial review system is not independent. In particular, in the realm of administrative litigation, factors such as interference, inter-court and intra-court influence, and bribery all work to weaken the independence of the judiciary. While the Chinese government has undertaken steps to reduce the magnitude of these problems, the efforts - though quite impressive - cannot eliminate the fundamental obstacles to an independent judicial review system in China. These obstacles persist because local governments and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) exercise power over the courts' personnel and finance and because of the overall primacy of CCP policies over law. To resolve these problems, political reform is needed to redefine the relationships between courts, the CCP, and local governments, and the international community can play an invaluable role in this regard.
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