Xiao Yang, male, Han nationality, was born in 1938 and is a native of Heyuan, Guangdong Province. After studying law, he became a teacher of political science and law in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He subsequently went to Guangdong Province where he worked in public security and also held Party positions, He then served as chief procurator in Guangdong Province from 1986 to 1990, before being assigned to Beijing in 1990 as deputy procurator general.
Xiao was minister of justice from 1993 to 1998 and was elected to the 15th CPC Central Committee in 1997. He was elected president of the Supreme People's Court in March 1998 and president of the China Association of Judges in 1999.