• forensic science;
  • forensic pathology;
  • medico-legal system;
  • death investigation;
  • autopsy;
  • China

Abstract:  Medico-legal death investigation in China has a long history that can be traced back to the Chhin era in the third century BC. We conducted a national study on the current medico-legal death investigation system in China. Our study showed that, at present, medico-legal death investigations in China are conducted by c. 12,000 forensic medical experts mainly within five relatively independent agencies: the police organizations, the prosecutors’ offices, the departments/divisions of forensic medicine/science in medical colleges and universities, the Institute of Forensic Science in the Ministry of Justice, and the government or private forensic societies. Owing to China’s large population and area, the medico-legal death investigation is largely based on the administrative divisions. There is a wide variation in the scope, extent, and quality of investigations among the agencies and at the different levels of county/district, municipal, and provincial governments. This article gives a general overview of medicolegal death investigation in modern China.