This article reviews forms of detention and their reforms in the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China (PRC). We examine the changing scope and uses of both administrative and criminal detention powers in the reform period and the impact of changing politics, ideology, and law in reform of both detention powers and institutions. In Part 1, we focus on the continuities and discontinuities in the ideology of punishment, the perceived role and uses of detention in shaping society and in social control. In Part 2, we explore the factors relevant to the reform or abolition of range of administrative detention powers. We seek to understand how reforms have occurred, where they have stalled and where they are now possible. We ask how relevant these considerations are to the reform of criminal detention powers and find some distinctive features, not least of which is the comparative rigidity brought about by legal codification. We also note that reform to some administrative detention powers has been accompanied by an expansion in the criminal justice system. Our analysis illustrates that not only is there a wide range of people that the Party-state considers deserve to be placed outside of society, but also that in contemporary China detention is still considered to be a very useful form of social management and control.