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Fajing 法經

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Fajing 法經 "Book of Standards" was a penal law code created by Li Kui 李悝, counsellor-in-chief of Marquis Wen 魏文侯 (r. 424-387) of the state of Wei 魏 during the early Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). The Fajing was the earliest codified penal law of all regional states of the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). It was based on earlier attempts at reforming the penal law from a more or less arbitrary form to a regularized form. The code was six chapters long. The first chapter (Daofa 盜法) dealt with the appropriation of public or private funds, or theft and robbery. The second chapter (Zeifa 賊法) regulated the punishment of criminals, especially bandits and rebels. These two aspects were most important for public security, and were therefore always dealt with in the first few chapters of ancient law codes. The third chapter (Wangfa 網法 or Qiufa 囚法) regulated conviction and emprisonment, the fourth chapter (Bufa 捕法) was dedicated to the arrestation of delinquents. The fifth chapter (Zafa 雜法) included miscellaneous regulations, and the last chapter (Jufa 具法) described penal tools. The Fajing is a code including regulations of the penal law and lawsuits for penal matters. A large part of the content provided the basis for the traditional Chinese legal system in shape, concept and content. It is important to note that the penal law was to be applied to all persons regardless of their social position. The Fajing is therefore the legal implementation of the legalist concept of equality before the law. Yet it also provided the fundament for the extremely harsh and cruel punishment in contrast to rather ill-defined crimes, an antagonism continuously to be found in the legal history of China.

1 盜法 Daofa Standards for robbery and theft
2 賊法 Zeifa Standards for banditry
3 網法 Wangfa (囚法 Qiufa) Standards for detention
4 捕法 Bufa Standards for arrestation
5 雜法 Zafa Miscellaneous standards
6 具法 Jufa Standards for tools

Source: Zhou Fazeng 周發增, Chen Longtao 陳隆濤, Qi Jixiang 齊吉祥 (ed. 1998), Zhongguo gudai zhengzhi zhidu cidian 中國古代政治制度史辭典 (Beijing: Shoudu shifan daxue chubanshe), p. 123.

November 9, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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