Court finance and floundering judicial reform in China

Zhenjie Yang, Linda Chelan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decentralized court finance and personnel management practices have been criticized for breeding extra-judicial interventions and corruption in China. Determined to advance law-based governance and to constrain recalcitrant local leaders, the Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping in 2014 rolled out reforms to centralize local court finance to the provincial level with the aim to sever local courts from local influence. Despite high expectations, implementation is at best partial. Close to half of all provinces have not accomplished the required changes, and more than half of all court expenditure continues, to date, to remain reliant upon local governments. The direct reason is that provincial governments lack sufficient and sustainable fiscal capacity to finance the operation of local courts without central assistance. Different interests between major stakeholders, namely the courts and the fiscal bureaus, also add to coordination problems and difficulties in reform implementation, in particular the tension between fiscal adequacy pursued by the judiciary and fiscal management efficiency stressed by finance bureaus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-298
Number of pages21
JournalChina Information
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • centralization
  • court finance
  • fiscal adequacy and efficiency
  • implementation gap
  • judicial reform
  • stakeholder perspectives


Dive into the research topics of 'Court finance and floundering judicial reform in China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this