What is it about?

The turning-oneself-in system in the border region originated in imperial times and was then supplemented with legal theory developed by the Soviet Union. However, the moral-theoretical intention behind the system was not fully realized in judicial practice due to the exigencies of protracted war. The continuity and change of such practice may reveal the historical basis for its growing degeneration in current Chinese Criminal Law.

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Why is it important?

The system of “turning oneself in” 自首 greatly impacted the struggle between the Guomindang (GMD) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)。This system was not only a “soft” means of governance that weakened the enemy without resorting to force, but also a weapon in the struggle to obtain secret information, to divide and rule, and to expand power.


it is interesting to know more details on legal practice in Shaan-Gan-Ning Border Region, and I can also have a complete understanding of history of the system of turning oneself in, which leading to more insightful views on current Chinese criminal justice.

Zhengyang Jiang

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Between Instrumentalism and Moralism: Representation and Practice of the System of “Turning Oneself In” in the Shaan-Gan-Ning Border Region, Modern China, September 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0097700419873896.
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