Asian Journal of Criminology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 307–323 | Cite as

Towards the Lenient Justice? A Rise of ‘Harmonious’ Penality in Contemporary China

  • Enshen LiEmail author


Punishment in China has long been considered to be punitive; however, changes in Chinese criminal justice and penal policy since the early 2000s may reflect a move towards leniency. This is perhaps most evident in a new criminal justice policy of ‘Balancing Leniency and Harshness’ in the context of building a ‘socialist harmonious society’. This paper discusses the recent shifts in policy and practice in China’s minor case disposition system over the last decade. It focuses on de-criminalization and de-incarceration—the criminal justice strategies that state agencies have adopted to deal with minor offenders—to explain why and how a more lenient approach has arisen in the contemporary era and offers a critical examination of these two penal perspectives.


Penal leniency Balancing leniency and harshness Harmonious society Minor crime Community corrections 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, The University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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