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Law, in particular its actual functioning in any given society, is above all a part of the culture of that society, a part of its historical, political, social and intellectual creation. If a "black-letter" approach towards law in the West is under increasing criticism, it is particularly unhelpful, if not misleading, in understanding Chinese law, its nature and developments. Rather, to understand Chinese law one needs to examine the Chinese legal traditions, the prevailing political and economic situations, party policies on economic reform and tolerance towards political liberalisation, and scholarly discussions and debate. This is the approach of this book. Its aim is to put Chinese law "in context", to outline the nature and status of its development, and to analyze the meaning of the law within the Chinese context. However, this monograph does not ignore the practical needs for determining the precise contents of the "black- letter" law either. A study of this kind necessarily involves a process of topic selection. However, to avoid over-generalization and over-simplification, it also demands a considerable degree of comprehensiveness in coverage. For this reason, the book covers what the Chinese scholars term "fundamental law" and "basic branches" of law, while other topics are covered because they are either crucial for the understanding of the law (such as legal traditions in China) or of practical importance (such as foreign investment and trade). Chapter One provides a historical background to traditional Chinese "legal culture" and modern law reforms. The historical background of specific topics is examined as the topics are analysed in the following chapters. Chapter Two deals with the changing fate of law under Communist rule. Its focus is on the underlying factors and justifications for such changes. Chapter Three introduces discussions on specific branches of law, from public law (constitutional law, law-making, administrative law, criminal law, criminal procedure law) to "private" law (civil law, family law, contracts, law on business entities, and law on foreign investment and trade).