This article contextualises and analyses the developing political and legal contradictions within the Chinese Communist Party's new strategy for coping with the 'purest forms' or most significant elements of 'corruption' which are construed as 'economic crime' in Chinese law. The rapidly expanding categorisation of economic crime relating, for example, to smuggling, embezzlement of public funds, stealing of state property, insider trading, large-scale bribery and fraud, cheque and credit card forgery, fabrication of share-subscription applications, etc., reflects internal controversy over the changing formal conception of the rule of law in the transition from a planned to a market economy. The following discussion provides a brief account of the changing configuration of 'economic crime', highlighting the changing definition and theoretical scope of such crime and the related technical controversies concerning procedure, social control, punishment, deterrence and criminal responsibility.