After decades of nihilistic rule under Mao Zedong, can legal order be restored in China? How successful is Deng Xiaoping’s initiative in developing a socialist legal system? Where is China on its road to the ‘rule of law’? This book illustrates – through the analysis of more than two hundred criminal cases selected from Minzhu yu fazhi (Democracy and the Legal System) in the period 1979-89 – that the establishment of a formal criminal justice system and the development of an embryonic socialist theory of law in China reflect a genuine and widespread legal awakening. A rudimentary legal culture has taken hold among Party leaders, cadres, judicial personnel, intellectuals and the general public. Nevertheless, the contradiction between legal order and Party supremacy remains, as demonstrated by the June Fourth incident in Beijing and the ensuing trials of the 1989 dissidents.