The age of criminal responsibility and juvenile justice in mainland China: a case study


  • Anqi Shen Teeside University


This article is about the rules on age and crime in relation to juveniles in mainland China. It starts with an outline of the Chinese law on age and crime in relation to children and young people. This is followed by a brief analysis of the international legal framework – norms, standards, rules and guidelines – pertaining to global child protection and juvenile justice policies. It then moves on to examine juvenile justice policy and practice in China, the reality of juvenile offending in the country and, accordingly, the calls for reform of the age of criminal responsibility. Finally, it concludes that China’s problem is not about a low age of criminal responsibility or resistance to the international law, but more to do with a deeper understanding of it and implementation. From a comparative perspective, it utilises China as a case study to claim that attention in juvenile justice in any given jurisdiction should be shifted away from (re)setting the minimum crime age to the development of child-centred juvenile justice that should be research-informed, under the human rights framework and that moves away from the legal institutions and the disproportionate punitive interventions.