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China's Xi Vows Legal Reforms to End 'Injustice'

FILE - China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
FILE - China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his commitment to reform the country's corruption-riddled legal system, but stressed the Communist Party will not loosen its grip over the courts.

A series of high-profile wrongful convictions has helped sap public confidence in China's courts, which have a conviction rate of nearly 100 percent and have long relied on forced confessions.

In an address this week, President Xi acknowledged that malpractice, including "injustice and wrongful convictions," remains a problem, according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.

If these issues are not addressed "in a timely manner," the Communist Party leader said "they would hinder the progress of the rule of law, and damage social fairness and justice."

But Xi emphasized the party will continue to exercise authority over the courts, saying this "represents the basic characteristics and political advantages of the socialist judicial system."

"With judicial reform, we are still walking the road of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics," Xi said.

Chinese officials have repeatedly promised to end the use of torture to extract confessions and prevent government officials from interfering in legal cases.

Earlier this month, China's top judge, Zhou Qiang, said the country's leaders must learn "profound lessons" from what he called past "miscarriages of justice."

In one high-profile case, a Chinese court in December overturned the conviction of a teenager from Inner Mongolia who was wrongfully executed 18 years ago for the murder and rape of a woman.

President Xi has repeatedly warned that rampant corruption could threaten the party's rule and undermine its popular legitimacy. He has carried out a massive anti-graft campaign.

Many of the most senior officials to be taken down during the anti-corruption campaign appear to be Xi's political rivals, leading to questions about whether the campaign will be effective.

Chinese authorities also continue to arrest and convict a steady stream of human rights lawyers, activists, and others who criticize Communist Party officials.

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