The travelling court
A team of magistrates travel by motorbike to remote mountain villages in a bid to bring state justice to rural China.
Filmmaker: Zhang Wenqing
The Qinling mountains stretch over more than 1,500 kilometres in China’s Shaanxi province – separating the north and south of the country. Many villages in the region, which is considered to be the cradle of Chinese civilisation, are located at high altitude, with some more than 3,000 metres above sea level.
The region has escaped almost all infrastructural reforms and many communities remain isolated. Yet, just as in any village in the valleys, there are problems that need to be dealt with.
In a bid to solve the conflicts that arise between residents of the villages, a system of itinerant justice has been created. Citizens no longer need to go to court – the court comes to them.
A team of judges travel by motorbike and, when their engines can go no further, by foot to their destinations.
We follow this travelling court as it investigates the case of a retired farmer seeking protection from his son-in-law, who he says is chasing him out of his own house, and a young woman filing for divorce. And when a four-wheel drive vehicle replaces the old motorbikes, we witness the changes taking root in even the most remote corners of Chinese society.