Ministry of Justice (imperial China)

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Ministry of Justice
Literal meaning Capital officials
Literal meaning Punishment(s) Department

The Ministry or Board of Justice was one of the Six Ministries under the Department of State Affairs in imperial China.

The Three Departments and Six Ministries system was the main central government structure in imperial China from the Sui dynasty (581–618) to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). It was also used by Balhae (698–926) and Goryeo (918–1392) in Manchuria and Korea, and very likely the Lý dynasty (1009–1225) and the Trần dynasty (1225–1400) in Vietnam as well.

The Department of State Affairs or Shangshu Sheng (尚書省) was one department in the Three Departments and Six Ministries government structure officially established since the Sui dynasty in the history of China. As one of the three departments, it was the highest executive institution of the imperial government since the Sui dynasty. Developing from the Shangshu Tai (尚書臺) in the Eastern Han dynasty, the name Sheng (省) was inherited even though the institution was now removed from the Imperial Court. The head of the Department is Shangshu Ling (尚書令). The Director was known as chancellor but was often absent. The Right and Left Deputy Directors (尚書左僕射、尚書右僕射) actually shouldered the duties. Beneath the Deputy Directors were the Right and Left Assistant Clerks (尚書左丞、尚書右丞) who had the Right and Left Excellency (左、右司郎中) to assist with their daily work and were in charge of the Six Ministries. The general office of the Department of State Affairs was called the Dou Sheng (都省).

History of China Account of past events in the Chinese civilisation

The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty, during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals describe a Xia dynasty before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia. The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River. These Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.



Under the Ming, the Ministry of Justice had charge of most judicial and penal processes, but had no authority over the Censorate or the Grand Court of Revision. [1]

The Censorate was a high-level supervisory agency in ancient China, first established during the Qin dynasty.

See also

Chinese law Ancient and contemporary legal tradition of China

Chinese law is one of the oldest legal traditions in the world. The core of modern Chinese law is based on Germanic-style civil law, socialist law, and traditional Chinese approaches.

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the mainland of the People's Republic of China. It is mostly enforced for murder and drug trafficking, and executions are carried out by lethal injection or gun shot. Although the Chinese government is often lambasted by European governments on this issue, capital punishment as a legal penalty receives overwhelming public support in Mainland China, and remains popular in many other countries in Asia, including Japan with 80% of respondents supporting the death penalty.

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  • Hucker, Charles O. (1958), "Governmental Organization of The Ming Dynasty", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 21: 1–66, doi:10.2307/2718619. 
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