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China’s first-ever, national Anti-Domestic Violence Law (henceforth, the Law) took effect in March 2016. The enactment of the Law was perceived by members of the general public as a solid step, taken by the Chinese government, both to protect the legal rights and interests of victims of gender-based violence (especially female victims) and also to establish domestic violence as a serious socio-legal problem deserving of greater public (especially political) attention. In this article, I choose to primarily focus on one specific type of domestic violence – gender-based violence within a current or former romantic relationship that causes harms to those in the relationship. I aim to identify and examine the limitations with this still recent Law in particular, and the criminal justice approach in general that China has been adopting to stop gender-based violence. Based upon an analysis of a very recent high-profile case of gender-based violence and five annual evaluation reports on the implementation of the Law, I lean to the conclusion that without transforming the socio-cultural context, no domestic violence legislation can effectively address gender-based violence and enhance the wellbeing of Chinese women.

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