Mediation has been part of China’s cultural fabric for thousands of years. The process of a respected neutral assisting parties in the resolution of a dispute has existed since ancient times. As China evolved from its ancient past, to a feudal society, to imperial, to the present day, expectations of mediation have changed. Modern China understands mediation as an effective dispute resolution mechanism, and it is adapting the tradition of mediation to the necessities of modern day commerce, social norms and political systems.
Today, China recognizes the importance of mediation, and mediators are more than wise village elders roaming the countryside. Mediators need professional training, institutional and legal support, and access to technology. Professional mediation training programs, court annexed systems, legislative reform, and online dispute resolution are all hot topics in modern Chinese Alternative Dispute Resolution.
China is currently undergoing a push toward the Rule of Law. This is a positive development, but it has resulted in a surge in litigation. People increasingly want their day in court, and the courts are backlogged. Drawing upon China’s cultural history, the ancient Chinese tradition of mediation will have an even larger role to play in the development of China’s future.