Nulla poena sine lege is a fundamental principle of criminal law. Its application is closely related to a basic understanding of criminal justice and separation of powers. The 1997 Chinese Criminal Law adopts a modified version of this principle. This modified version includes a negative and a positive dimension, and appears to be more rigid on the surface than the classic conception of the doctrine. However, in view of China’s penal statutes, the rigidity of the Chinese nulla poena doctrine has been offset by broad sentence ranges, vague criteria for offense classes, unconstrained sentence mitigation and multi-functional sentencing circumstances. . .