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China Grants Greater Autonomy to Its Courts

Judicial reform in China is moving apace to make courts independent of the local government, The New York Times' Ian Johnson reports: "Currently, lower-level courts in China are overseen by the county government, whose party boss runs the courts as a wing of the government, like the police force or sanitation services." Under the reform effort, courts would be under provincial administration.

Dockets also are being made public for the first time, and there are pilot projects to establish circuit courts to have judges from one province to hear cases from another province.

But Johnson notes that the reforms are really more making the courts efficient, rather than independent. In a prior reform effort in the early 2000s, most of the people involved in the "Rights' Defenders" movement have since been arrested or silenced, Johnson reports.