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“(Un)muting the Fire Alarm: Impact of the Establishment of Appellate Courts on Land Dispute Resolution in China” by Siyun Jiang
April 14, 2021 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am JST
Author: Siyun Jiang (Texas)
Abstract: Many authoritarian regimes established administrative courts for information collection and agent control. Yet given the overall power asymmetries between the executive and the judiciary, judicial oversight faces local resistance from the bureaucracy. Reforms that enhance judicial supervision may induce countermeasures and yield unintended consequences. Using administrative data on the resolution of land-related disputes between citizens and the Ministry of Land and Resources of China during 2009 and 2017, this paper finds that the establishment of appellate courts didn’t increase the percentage of pro-citizen ruling in court, but it made upper-level bureaucrats more likely to acknowledge lower-level bureaucrats’ misdeeds. Besides, judges in lower-level courts became more likely to dismiss cases on a procedural ground. These findings suggest that local bureaucrats may divert information about controversial administrative acts away from appeal courts to avoid judicial checks.