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China is among the nations that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (“Convention” hereafter). Both the Law on Protection of Minors and the Law on Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency were enacted in consistency with the UN Convention. The Convention stresses that “the best interest of children” shall be the primary consideration in handling all juvenile-related matters (Article 3.1). Although Chinese laws do not specifically use the term “the best interest of children,” the principles behind juvenile laws are in consistency with it. For example, the very first article of the Law on the Protection of Minors stipulates that:

This Law is enacted in accordance with the Constitution for the purpose of protecting the physical and mental health of minors, safeguarding their lawful rights and interests, promoting their all-round development—morally, intellectually and physically, and training them into successors to the socialist cause with lofty ideals, sound morality, better education and a good sense of discipline.

Article 4 of the Law articulates that the protection of minors shall follow four principles: (1) safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of minors, (2) respecting the personal dignity of minors, (3) fitting in with the characteristics of minors’ physical and mental development, and (4) combining education with protection. In reading these laws, we should bear in mind that China is one of the East Asian nations where there is a tendency to downgrade law (David and Brierley 1978). This has not fundamentally changed after more than 1 hundred years’ efforts in its modernization and in its legal reconstruction.

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