This review examines the literature on procedural justice and the fair trial over the past two decades in the People's Republic of China. Part 1 gives a wide-angle view of the key political events and developments that have shaped the experience of procedural justice and the fair trial in contemporary China. It provides a storyline that explains the political environment in which these concepts have developed over time. Part 2 examines how scholars understand the legal structures of the criminal process in relation to China's political culture. Part 3 presents scholarly views on three enduring problems relating to the fair trial: the presumption of innocence, interrogational torture, and the role of lawyers in the criminal trial process. Procedural justice is a particularly pertinent issue today in China, because Xi Jinping's yifa zhiguo 依法治国 (governing the nation in accordance with the law) governance platform seeks to embed a greater appreciation for procedural justice in criminal justice decision-making, to correct a politicolegal tradition overwhelmingly focused on substantive justice. Overall, the literature reviewed in this article points to the serious limitations in overcoming the politicolegal barriers to justice reforms that remain intact in the system, despite nearly four decades of constant reform.