The Chinese politico-legal system, including the human rights component thereof, has long been the subject of intense academic and policy interest, despite its increasingly ‘soft’ features. A multiyear economic expansion and active participation in globalization processes have been accompanied by some loosening of governmental control mechanisms but, by Western standards, this has been a distinctly slow journey. The acquisition of power by this rapidly rising international player has also given rise to concerns about the broader implications of a combination of substantial State capabilities and an ambivalent posture towards human rights, as widely conceived. In addition to traditional perspectives, the issue has been addressed by resorting to social science-type methodological tools and employing them in order to gain a better understanding of the workings of a rule-based regime that straddles domestic and global territory. Considerable progress has been made, yet the task has not been approached exhaustively and accumulation of knowledge has been an intermittent affair. An elaborate and structured literature review is undertaken here for the purpose of identifying gaps on this specific front and concrete strategies to narrow them materially.