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Nevertheless, both theories have influenced and continue to influence the development of cultural, social, and legal norms in China. However it may continue to develop, Chinese law has clearly entered a new phase of consequence, both for China and for the broader world dealing with China. The Constitution states its own supremacy. In effect, this ingenious system facilitated imperial rule pursuant to shared values while allowing for appropriate variation to suit local circumstances.

Individual ministries or agencies central or local do not have such powers except in specified circumstances. Recognizing that people in a society hold diverse interests, Confucius charges the ruler with the responsibility to unify these interests and maintain social order.

The situation of lawyers illustrates this point. The metamorphosis of li into law depended on its widespread and unvaried acceptance by society.

To cure this defect and force people to behave morally, the only way, believed the legalists, is to publicly promulgate clearly written laws and impose harsh punishments. Nevertheless, the ruler must know and understand the li to be able to create solutions to conflict and problems the society faces. Although the Constitution provides for legislative, executive, judicial, and procuratorial powers, they all remain subject to Communist Party leadership. This Constitution also contains more extensive rights than any of the previous constitutions.

The Administrative Procedural Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. Passage of the Administrative Litigation Law of created legal recourse for individuals from arbitrary government action, an avenue previously unavailable.

All capital offenses were reported to the capital and required the personal approval of the emperor. When conflicts arise, the li have to be applied and interpreted to produce a just result and restore the harmony of the society. It also makes it irrelevant whether the ruler has superior abilities. In contrast, codified laws require external compliance, and people may abide by the laws without fully understanding the reason for compliance. This continuity notwithstanding, imperial Chinese law was dynamic.

Attitudes toward the traditional Chinese legal system changed markedly in the lateth century. Statue of Qin Shihuangdi near his tomb, Xi'an, China. Most legal professionals were not lawyers but generalists trained in philosophy and literature.

Nevertheless both theoriesHowever it may continue to develop