Chinese Law and Legal Institutions
The Chinese world has a rich legal and governance tradition, elaborated over more than 2000 years before the complex encounter with the modernizing "West" (and Meiji Japan) in the 19th century. That long tradition not only exercised definitive influence on other legal systems in East Asia, but continues to shape the PRC's reform-era struggle with "Legal Construction" started in the late 1970s, and democratizing Taiwan's own approach to rule of law in a nominally less authoritarian context. This course will explore major topics in Chinese-world law and legal institutions from the pre-imperial age (before 221 BCE) to the present day. Through selected readings of secondary materials and primary sources in English translation, students will become acquainted with the roots of China's specific legal and governance tradition and work towards an understanding of contemporary Chinese-world institutions, identified practices and supporting assumptions. Specifically, the course will elaborate: the philosophical traditions embodied in Chinese institutions throughout history; imperial establishments from 221 BCE to the middle 17th century; a detailed consideration of the legal order implemented during China's last imperial dynasty (1644-1911); the effects of China's encounter with a rapidly industrializing "West"; developments during the early Republican, Beiyang Government and then Guomindang single Party-ruled states (and the Communist Party's legal system in "soviets" established before the Long March); and then the PRC's post-1949 Communist Revolution legal-political order implemented (or not) through the "Anti-Rightist Campaign", the "Great Leap Forward", the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution", the beginning of "Reform and Opening to the Outside World" and to the present day which finds the PRC and Taiwan thoroughly entangled with the global trade regime and equally globalized capital markets, the United Nations, public international law and multilateral institutions, and international human rights norms and commitments. Over the semester, the course will focus on specific aspects of legal and institutional developments in the modern Chinese world, including criminal law and procedure, commercial and corporate law, the foreign direct investment regime, family law, administrative and constitutional law, the protection of basic human rights, and the PRC's engagement with public international law. At the conclusion of the course, students should be well acquainted with the reality and feasibility of "rule of law" (as contrasted with "rule by law") in a Chinese world state, and the many ways in which the Chinese experience informs law and legal institution development outside of the PRC and Taiwan.
For details on class times, days of the week, instructors, and grading and exam details, please view the Michigan Law Class Schedule.