From a comparative perspective, one of the most noteworthy aspects of East Asia1 over the past five or six decades has been the region’s rapid development, which is true whether one defines ‘development’ in economic terms alone or takes a broader view. Growth rates in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and, more recently, China have been outstanding over sustained periods, as has been these societies’ performance on many broader measures of well-being (World Bank, 1993). For scholars interested in understanding how law and legal institutions interact with social processes of development, East Asia therefore provides a rich arena for research, not only to deepen understanding of fundamental theoretical issues, but also perhaps to provide practical guidance to today’s developing countries as they seek to structure their own legal systems to facilitate development. As this chapter will demonstrate, the East Asian experience challenges many claims and assumptions found in the mainstream law and development field. This was true of the East Asian ‘miracle’ economies of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, but the challenges posed by China’s development path are even more fundamental.