The Third Wheel: China’s Legal System

In the aftermath of the Wukan protests, Chinese author Yu Hua writes in a New York Times Op-Ed about the uneven balance between China’s grievance process, its legal system and the government’s insistence on stability maintenance. As victims of corruption and injustice lack faith in China’s legal system, he argues, judicial action increasingly takes a backseat to political arrangements and under-the-table agreements to keep order in the face of complaints:

In China, an extramarital love interest who comes between a happy couple is known pejoratively as “Little Three.” The expression appears in a joke about three kindergartners who want to play house.

“I’ll be the daddy,” the boy says.

“I’ll be the mommy,” one girl says.

Another girl frowns: “I guess I’ll have to be Little Three.”

If the law, the grievance process and stability maintenance were ever to play house, I think we’d see the following exchange:

“I’m the daddy,” Stability Maintenance says.

“I’m the mommy,” Grievance Process says.

The Law pouts. “Well, I’m Little Three.”


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