Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Friday, September 30, 2005

Job opening: Director, Asian & Comparative Law Program, Columbia Law School

Columbia Law School is currently advertising the above position. For details, see

September 30, 2005 in Internships/Employment Opportunities | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Asian Law Institute, NUS: "Reflections on Legal Education in Asia"

I have received the following announcement:

The Asian Law Institute (ASLI) Symposium
"Reflections on Legal Education in Asia"

Date: 10 - 11 November 2005, Thursday and Friday
Place: National University of Singapore (NUS)

The ASLI symposium on legal education is organized pursuant to a research project headed by the Deans of the Faculties of Law of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) and National University of Singapore (NUS).


The symposium aims to bring together a distinguished group of legal scholars to present papers relating to legal education in Asia. The intention is for some of the papers to be published either in the inaugural issue of the Journal of the Asian Law Institute (ASLI) or as a monograph.


We would like to invite participants from your organization to the symposium. It will be an excellent opportunity to meet and forge closer ties with other scholars in Asian law and to discuss matters of interest relating to legal education in Asia.


The two-day symposium will bring together about 20 presenters from leading institutions in Asia, and will touch on the landscape of legal education in Asia and pedagogical skills.

Please find the programme (tentative) at

The programme will be finalized and sent to registered participants by end October 2005. A copy will also be mounted on the web site.


Places for the symposium are limited to a maximum of 40. Registration will be on a first-come-first-served basis. Please download the Registration Form which contains information on conference fee and accommodation options at

Registration will close on 22 October 2005, or when the limit is reached, whichever is earlier.

We regret that flights and accommodation are to be arranged by participants separately and are not covered by the conference fee. Transport will, however, be arranged to and from NUS for the 2 hotel accommodation options listed.


Asian Law Institute (ASLI)
c/o National University of Singapore
Faculty of Law
13 Law Link, Singapore 117590
Tel: (65) 6874 1305/6874 3604
Fax: (65) 6779 0979


September 29, 2005 in Conferences | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In Memoriam: William Catron Jones (March 30, 1926 – September 16, 2005)


The Chinese law community is profoundly saddened by the passing away of Bill Jones. Over the last several days, I've collected a number of remembrances from Bill's colleagues. Here they are (below), with some other web links.


Video interview: A Conversation with William C. Jones, with Prof. John Haley (Fall 2004)

Bibliography (compiled by Wei Luo): Download Bibliography.pdf

Remembrances (in alphabetical order, by surname)

  • Donald Clarke
  • Jerome Cohen
  • Alison Conner
  • Randle Edwards
  • James Feinerman
  • John Haley
  • Yonglin Jiang
  • Hilary Josephs
  • Margot Landman
  • Terrill Lautz
  • Tahirih Lee
  • Stanley Lubman
  • Wei Luo
  • Jonathan Ocko
  • John Ohnesorge
  • Randall Peerenboom
  • Pitman Potter
  • Mark Sidel
  • Wang Xi (王曦)
  • Susan Weld
  • Margaret Woo
  • Wendy Zeldin

Donald Clarke (George Washington University)

Clarke One of the most rewarding aspects of being an academic in the Chinese law field was always the pleasure of associating with Bill Jones. Not only did Bill enrich our understanding of everything from the criminal law of the Qing dynasty to sales contracts in the PRC, but he shared generously with his friends and colleagues his fine appreciation of the ridiculous both inside and outside the field. All of this he did - and this is very hard to pull off - without a trace of mean-spiritedness, because it simply was not there.

Like many colleagues I am grateful that I had a chance to see Bill just last spring at a conference at Columbia; like many colleagues, too, I'm sure, I regret that I did not sit him down then for dinner or a drink to enjoy his latest pungent observations on the world and feel the warmth of his kindness and concern.

Bill Jones was a fine scholar, but even more than that he was a fine human being. At the reception after his memorial service someone remarked to me, "They don't make them like that any more." Another person, overhearing, corrected her: "They didn't make them like that before, either!"

I will miss you, Bill.

Jerome Cohen (New York University)

CohenThose of us who work in the field of Chinese law, fortunately, seldom hold unanimous views about anything. But, understandably, our opinions about Bill Jones, as person, scholar, teacher and friend, converge to the point of unanimity in our praise and affection. In his apparently relaxed and genuinely humorous way, Bill made a profound and lasting impression on all who were privileged to share his interests in China, past and present. His clear and penetrating analysis of the Qing Code, offered from the perspective of one familiar with Continental European law as well as its Anglo-American counterpart, not only called necessary attention to the foundations of contemporary Chinese law but did it in a manner that cast new light upon this major subject. Bill's teaching and participation in conferences demonstrated his interesting and lucid flair for drawing the rest of us into his topic in a low-key, yet humorous, fashion. Tolerance and tale-telling were two of Bill`s many fine traits, as anyone who listened to his amusing stories of what life in Wuhan was like in the early '80s for a pioneering and lonely American professor. Bill was also a generous and kind person, whether in his relations with Chinese and American students or his appraisal of the contributions of many others in our field. His eternally youthful good looks and engaging smile provided persuasive evidence for the proposition that internal qualities are often registered in one's demeanor. Sadly, but not surprisingly, I see no "revolutionary successor" on the horizon.

Alison Conner (University of Hawai'i)

Conner_1Bill Jones once joked to another friend of ours that he had known me forever - but that was pretty much true. We met at a summer language program, where we were both studying Chinese (and I was still in my teens). During the forty years since then, Bill was a wonderful friend and mentor to me, and I benefited many times from his support and advice. He wrote me detailed reports of his Fulbright year in Wuhan in 1982, for example, and I felt encouraged me to take the Fulbright to Nanjing in 1983 (I'm so glad I did).

Bill told me years ago that China was "simply the most important country," and he was disappointed that most American law schools did not agree - though of course he did a great deal to change that. Like everyone else, I learned a lot from his scholarship, all of it informed by a deep understanding of civil law systems and legal history.

I admired Bill for many reasons besides his scholarship, not least his kindness. I still remember the praise he and Jean gave me after a presentation I made years ago (really it was kind of a dud). Bill and Jean were also the most sociable of beings; they always had time for their friends. And I just loved his humor. When he was about sixty-five I said that he never seemed to age, that to me he still seemed in his forties. He just laughed. "You know why that is, don't you?," he asked. "Then you would still be in your twenties!"

In short, Bill was a scholar and a gentleman; can there be higher praise? I wish I could have a visit with him just one last time.

Randle Edwards (Columbia University (emeritus))

Edwards Bill Jones will be sorely missed by anyone who knew him. He embodied so many of the qualities that define the labels "gentleman" and "nice guy." He was kind and gentle; at the same time, he had a biting wit that he could employ to caricature incompetent bureaucrats.

Bill was a charter member of the first CLEEC enterprise. As chairman of that venture for its first eight years, I still feel deeply indebted to Bill for his valuable service on the committee. I don't think he ever missed a meeting, and he was always well prepared. Inevitably, he would make unique and constructive suggestions that helped to shape the evolving CLEEC policy.

Bill's contributions to CLEEC, and his Chinese law scholarship both reflected his long career as a law professor and acting dean - he knew how to deal with law faculties - and his background in civil law systems. Understanding China's legal education needs and helping to design a program to help train Chinese law teachers at US law schools - the CLEEC mandate - required a realization of the implications that Chinese law and its system of legal education had been shaped more by the European civil law model than by the American common law model. Bill played a vital role in helping the Committee "translate" civil law concepts and values into language we could all understand.

Bill: The thought of the twinkle in your eye and your kind manner will always make your friends smile. You were a vital link in the CLEEC clique - your irony was served up so gently that even its targets were moved to merge with "Datong." We will continue to be guided by your spirit, your translation of the Qing Code, and your contribution to the genesis of CLEEC II.

James Feinerman (Georgetown University)

[Editor's note: Jim has written a wonderful essay in memory of Bill that I am putting at the end of these tributes as a kind of capstone piece. Please scroll to the bottom if you can't wait.]

John Haley (Washington University in St. Louis)

HaleyA member of the law faculty since 1955, Bill Jones helped to build the foundations for the study of comparative and international law at Washington University in St. Louis. In so doing he was instrumental in making its current programs possible. No one in the field of Chinese legal studies need be reminded of his immense contributions as a scholar to the field. As a teacher he was always a caring mentor. To the hundreds of students from China he taught and counseled, he epitomized the generous spirit of the United States. Indeed, all who knew him will remember and miss his seemingly effortless intellect, wit, and kindness. 

Yonglin Jiang (Oklahoma State University)

JiangI started to know Professor William Jones when I assisted him with his monumental translation of The Great Qing Code in 1990. During the month-long work, Professor Jones not only taught me scholarship but also influenced me with his amiable personality. Since then, he set up a model as a scholar and friend for me, from which I will have greatly benefited. Last April at Chicago, I was fortunate to meet Professor Jones and thanked him in person for his support of my work. I was shocked to learn that it turned to be our last meeting. Professor Jones is my teacher and friend forever.

Hilary Josephs (Syracuse University)

Josephs_2When I learned of Bill's passing, the postscript which Sima Qian wrote for the Biography of General Li Guang came to mind: "People grieved whether they knew him personally or not. He was admired for his earnestness and sincerity. 'The flowering fruit trees in spring do not speak but a path is worn beneath them nonetheless.' Brief words which convey a profound meaning."

I first met Bill and Jean at an AAS meeting about ten years ago. I had organized a panel on the Administrative Litigation Law, a subject about which I really knew nothing. Bill and Jean sat in the front row. During the Q & A period, Bill commented dryly that my remarks were based on French law, which should not be so facilely compared to Chinese law. He had tremendous admiration for the uniqueness of Chinese law and was alert to any comparison which obscured or distorted China's singular achievement. A part of his legacy for those who study Chinese law, anywhere in the world, is to make the subject intelligible to non-specialists but without ever losing sight of its essential character.

Margot Landman (National Committee on US-China Relations)

In addition to being a fine scholar, Bill was an extraordinarily kind, thoughtful, concerned human being. He also had a wonderful sense of humor, which served him well, both in China and in the United States (he could be equally sharp about both).

Terrill Lautz (Luce Foundation)

I first met Bill Jones in the early 1980s when he was teaching at Wuhan University, and greatly admired his open, generous and pioneering spirit. He made wonderful contributions to the study of Chinese law and U.S.-China relations over the years, and his legacy will long be remembered by his Chinese and American students and colleagues.

Tahirih Lee (Florida State University)

Lee_1From the very first time I met Bill, probably at an annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies or the American Society for Legal History in the late 1980s, he was unbelievably kind and supportive and interested in what I was researching. He was always so genuine and so easy to talk to. He continued to be this kind of rock for me, even through our last conversation in April, at Columbia. From the lectures I heard him give at these meetings and other important venues, like Harvard's East Asian Legal Studies, from his writings, which I always found useful in my Chinese law and Comparative law classes, from his reports of his teaching in China and at Washington University, long into his "retirement," Bill was clearly interested in a whole world of ideas that, though focused on Chinese law and legal history (thank goodness, for us all), linked him to the big legal thinkers of the twentieth century (Karl Llewellyn comes to mind). His work always inspired me, helped me envision our field in the most positive light. I am still profoundly shocked at his passing and wish we had many more conversations ahead of us. 

Stanley Lubman (University of California at Berkeley & The Asia Foundation)

LubmanBill Jones's death is immensely saddening. He was a rare combination of scholar and gentleman. During the thirty-odd years that I knew him, rather than specific moments that stand out, I am left with an deep impression of a combination of sweetness of smile and temperament, a keen capacity for assessing the qualities of others, and a dedication to the extraordinarily broad and insightful scholarship that he leaves behind for us to learn from and emulate.

Much has been said by others about his mentoring. When I looked, just now, at our correspondence in recent years, I was reminded that he was one of the few colleagues I have had who would not only write to congratulate me on a recent publication, but proceed to tell me precisely why he liked it and, deftly and politely, suggest interpretations or analyses that differed from mine. And, deliciously, his letters were also often replete with salty comments on China, China experts, and the state of the nation and the world. I only regret that I don't have more of them, but of course that is just a small reflection of the great loss caused by his death. 

Wei Luo (Washington University in St. Louis)

LuoThe first time when I heard about Prof. William C. Jones was in 1985 in China. I heard that he was one of the American legal scholars who had the research interests on Chinese law since 1960s and had made tremendous contributions to promote the academic exchanges in legal field between the U.S. and China. Since July 1997, I have worked for Washington University School of Law Library as a librarian. In the past eight years, I was very fortunate to have the chance to work closely with Prof. Jones by building a comprehensive Chinese law collection, providing him with Chinese legal materials for his research needs, and discussing Chinese legal issues with him. I had asked him to write forewords for three of my books on Chinese law. He always accepted my requests pleasantly and finished writing the forewords timely. For these, I am deeply indebted to him.

Prof. Jones was also a great human being to be around. He was always very kind, gentle and had a sense of humor. He was a great mentor to me and many other Chinese who had been around him. In 1980s and 1990s, he had helped more than two dozen Chinese students and scholars come to study at Washington University School of Law. Many of them told me how nice he was and how much they appreciated him. He impressed me and many other Chinese as a great scholar who was wise and humble [dazhi yongrong or 大智雍容 in Chinese]. His death is a great loss to us but his kindness and scholarship will live within us forever.

Jonathan Ocko (North Carolina State University)

OckoAs others have noted, Bill combined an intellectual sharpness (and at times tartness) with a personal gentility and sweetness that still bore traces of his childhood in the South. This combination came through most clearly at conferences when he would gently, politely, but highly effectively demolish what he found to be a weak argument. As an intellectual mentor and friend to us all, he'll be deeply missed.                                                                                              


John Ohnesorge (University of Wisconsin)

Ohnesorge I knew Bill Jones only through his wonderful scholarship, and through one long lunch in Harvard Square when I was an SJD candidate looking for a teaching position. My lasting memory of him will be as a highly accomplished senior scholar who was genuinely interested in the work of younger scholars, and who retained a real sense of modesty about our ability to understand the place law in the wider world in which we live.


Randall Peerenboom (University of California at Los Angeles)

PeerenboomBill Jones was both well-liked and well-respected.  His work was what comparative law should be - combining knowledge of Chinese law with other legal systems, and insight with wisdom. He will be sorely missed, but fondly remembered by all of us who have benefitted from knowing him and reading his work.



Pitman Potter (University of British Columbia)


Bill Jones has long been a source of support and inspiration for my efforts to understand changing conditions of law in China.  Whether as a participant on scholarly panels, a contributor to my edited volume on domestic law reform in China, or a partner in discussion and conversation over dinner or drinks, Bill has always combined humor and a dry wit with much useful advice.

I recall my first meeting with Bill in 1983 at the Universities Service Centre on Argyle Street in Hong Kong, when he held forth on the origins of civil code drafting in China.  Bill offered a rich depiction of the comparative and historical contexts for China's efforts to draft the General Principles of Civil Law, which stood as a model for scholarly analysis of later legislation.  While the depth of his knowledge was more than a little intimidating for this 1st year law student and doctoral dissertation researcher, he presented his ideas in such an engaging and interesting way that I could not help but be drawn in. This encapsulated for me Bill's intellectual legacy - a rich body of work that illuminated and explained the complexities of the law in China, combined with a sense of personal humor, engagement, and empathy. I'll miss him greatly.

Mark Sidel (University of Iowa)

SidelBill Jones was a kind, respectful and generous man to Chinese scholars and to all of us who have sought to understand China and Chinese law. That openness, kindness, respect and generosity in a senior scholar helped reinforce ways of behavior in many of us toward Chinese and foreign colleagues and students, lessons that have become more important with the passage of time. 

Bill loved Chinese legal language, and loved working with it, and so when I worked in Beijing in the late 1980s and early 1990s heading the Ford Foundation's law and legal reform programs, I regularly sent him packages of new Chinese law books published in Beijing. His joy in receiving and using these texts was palpable, even from many thousands of miles away, in his regular and warm notes of thanks. Bill respected texts and found them well worth studying, using, and translating, along with the social and political reality that surrounded and shaped them. His work, and his extraordinary publications, will continue to remind us of the value of text in a time when it is often devalued, and of the value of careful and caring scholarship in understanding and changing the world.

In these sad days since his death, I keep returning to kindness and respect. The world of law schools Bill worked in and we also inhabit are not generally places of kindness or respect. Bill was a shining exception, and a radiant teacher of those virtues.

Wang Xi (Shanghai Jiaotong University)

WangI was very sad to hear the news about the passing away of Professor William Jones. I was one of the first group of Chinese students introduced to the Law School of Washington University by him in 1985. I went there and provided a little help for his great project of translating the Qing Code into English. He helped me to study at the Law School of Washington U. It is nearly 20 years since I left Washington University in 1987. I went back to Washington University in 1996 and had a short chat with him in St. Louis.

Professor William Jones is a man very important to my career as an environmental law scholar. It is him who introduced me to America and spent nearly three years there. The experience of the my life in St. Louis and Washington University is very precious to me in many aspects such law, culture and society. I feel that as time goes, its value and usefulness increase. I was lucky to be chosen by him to study at Washington U.

Now I am a Law Professor at the Law School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and serve as an Associate Dean for international cooperation. Professor William Jones had spent a lot of his time and energy in creating and developing academic relation between the law societies of the United States and China. As his student, the best way for me to memory Professor William Jones is to do my best to promote the academic cooperation between the jurists between China and the United States, especially between the Law Schools of Washington U and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

I miss Professor William Jones very much.

Susan Weld (Congressional-Executive Commission on China)

I have wonderful memories of hilarious dinners with Bill and Jean in their Cambridge apartment, and conferences at which Bill's gentle comments went right to the quick of a discussion. The field is so much the poorer for his loss.

Margaret Woo (Northeastern University)

WooI remember Bill for his kindness and love of knowledge.  Here's a send-off he would appreciate. It's a Chinese poem by the famous Li Bai (李白).

Seeing a Friend Off 送友人

Green mountains range beyond the northen wall. 青山横北郭
White water rushes round the eastern town. 白水绕东城
Right here is where, alone and restless, he 此地一为别
Begins a journey of a thousand miles. 孤蓬万里征

While travelers' intents are fleeting clouds, 浮云游子意
A friend's affection is a setting sun. 落日故人情
He waves good-bye, and as he goes from here, 挥手自兹去
His dappled horse lets out a lonely neigh. 萧萧班马鸣

Wendy Zeldin (Library of Congress)

The Law Library of Congress was honored to have Bill Jones visit on several occasions. His engaging conversation, straightforward and dignified manner, sheer love of scholarship and the Chinese legal field, as well as that Southern gentility others have mentioned, made him a much valued guest. Those visits will be missed.

James Feinerman (Georgetown University)

FeinermanTo those of us who knew Bill Jones well, it is indeed a cruel irony that he died of heart failure. To think that a heart that big, that generous, that kind could fail – well, it’s unimaginable. Yet Bill is gone, and his loss will be felt by many for a very long time. Moreover, the loss to the field of Chinese law is immeasurable. As many others have noted, Bill was a unique contributor to the global study of Chinese law. He had a firm grounding in comparative law and understood civil codes and the civil law mentality extraordinarily well. Thus, he could distinguish the uniquely Chinese elements in China’s laws from those which were unusual (to common lawyers, at least) because of their civil law elements. Bill also became expert in the study of Chinese legal history, particularly that of China’s final dynastic era, the Qing. His work in that area culminated with a masterful translation of the Great Qing Code into modern English. Along with Wallace Johnson’s translation of the Tang Code and a recent translation of the Ming Code by Jiang Yonglin (a student of Bill’s), this Qing Code translation made it possible for historians and legal academics of our era to study in readable English the last thousand years of China’s legal development.

Perhaps what was most extraordinary about Bill Jones’s career was his enormous erudition and prodigious scholarship, despite having come to the study of Chinese law rather late. Having already completed his doctorate in law at the University of Chicago (under the doyenne of commercial law, Soia Mentschikoff, spouse of Karl Llewellyn, Chief Reporter and drafter of the modern Uniform Commercial Code for which Prof. Mentschikoff was Associate Chief Reporter), Bill became interested in China in middle life. But this was no momentary flirtation or passing interest. The seriousness with which Bill approached all his scholarly endeavors led him to study Chinese for years, both the modern language and the classical literary version. He spent years first in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and later in mainland China pursuing his academic interests. Not content merely to develop linguistic skills, Bill immersed himself in the study of China’s history and contemporary society, drawing on many disciplines and reading widely in economics, political science and sociology and anthropology to develop a well-rounded understanding of China.

I first met Bill when I was a law student at Harvard in the late 1970s and found him delightfully direct and unpretentious for someone who was already an established scholar. Characteristically, he talked little about his own work but took great interest in mine and that of my classmates. We compared our respective experiences as students, at different times, in New Haven and Cambridge. Bill lamented that so many of us with Sinological training were planning to trade the academic life for a more practical legal career; he predicted, accurately in my case, that we would tire of the “bright lights” of big city law firms. My friendship with Bill was cemented a few years later when he and I became the first Fulbright law teachers in China since 1949. While I returned to Peking University, where I had been an exchange student a few years earlier, Bill drew the much harder duty of teaching at Wuhan University, an important city in central China with a great university and a law department headed by the noted scholar Han Depei. Wuhan in the early 1980s still quite remote and barely beginning to recover from the Cultural Revolution and to join the headlong modernization of China’s past quarter century. Beijing was quite cosmopolitan by comparison. 

Nevertheless, Bill (and his wife, Jean, who continued to practice law in St. Louis but made frequent trips to Wuhan) embraced his posting with considerable enthusiasm. Wuhan at that time was the focus of French educational exchange efforts in China. Bill’s command of French and congenital amiability quickly made him the best American friend of the French teachers at Wuhan University. This, in turn, yielded many benefits. The French Consulate in Hong Kong shipped a cubic meter crate of French culinary necessities (not just baguettes but also Camembert and pâté de foie gras) regularly to their outpost in Wuhan. The bonhomie of Professeur et Docteur Guillaume Jones made him a welcome guest in the French quarters at Wuhan. 


The summer of 1983, at the end of my Fulbright year in China but only the middle of Bill’s two years in Wuhan, he and Jean and I went along on a Chinese Ministry of Education-organized ten-day trip to Tibet – Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyangtse. Our group of ten included four French teachers, two Germans and four Americans. Linguistically and interpersonally, Bill Jones was the pivotal member of the group. Aside from being the only one who spoke all three languages fluently, he also was able to negotiate many difficulties – ranging from poorly trained translators to finding a separate Land Cruiser in addition to our group bus to transport one of the French women suffering from a "crise du foie." I should also mention that the Wuhan faculty wanted Bill to teach a course on the German civil code, which he was eminently qualified to do; however, Bill demurred, noting that the Fulbright Program required him to focus on American subjects, including U.S. law.

Bill was, as a result of the Fulbright experience in China, committed to finding and expanding opportunities for training Chinese law students and legal academics and for increasing US-China legal exchanges. While teaching for a second year in China, he prevailed upon me (back in the US administering the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard) to convince the United States Information Agency to make probably the smallest government grant ever accepted by the President and Fellows of Harvard College – $11,000! – for a conference in China to bring legal academics together. A year later, Lance Liebman, Whitmore Gray and James J. White, along with Bill and me, met with over a dozen of China’s leading law faculty at that time to begin to figure out how to teach U.S. law better to Chinese students, not only under Fulbright auspices but also new programs that were just beginning to appear. Bill was among the earliest members of the Committee on Legal Education Exchange with China (CLEEC), a Ford Foundation-funded program which trained over 250 young Chinese legal educators and funded more than 20 Americans for study and research of Chinese law. At Washington University Law School, he taught generations of students Chinese and comparative law and shepherded many PRC students through their courses of study.

Most importantly, Bill was a scholar. In his scholarly writings, the essential Bill Jones was distilled. His work educated many and will continue to inform those who read it in the future. The qualities of mind and character – intelligence, sharp analysis, wit and humor, generosity and humility – stand out in all his books, articles and reviews.  In the remaining space I will only cite, briefly, a few of his "greatest hits" – those shining instances of perspicacity where Bill made sense of the very difficult and chaotic field of Chinese legal studies. One such instance was his review – particularly in his title –  of Gordon Bennett’s Yundong: Mass Campaigns in Chinese Communist Leadership (Berkeley, 1976), "On the Campaign Trail in China."  Bill made the connections between the mass campaigns, which others had already studied, and the lack of formal law in China at that time, seeing policy, as evinced in the periodic campaigns, as a form of (or substitute for) law. The witty title caught the reader’s eye, but the analysis carried the day.

Uncharacteristically, Bill got into something of an academic spat with the German Chinese law specialist, Frank Münzel, in the Review of Socialist Law over a quarter of century ago. I should make clear that it was Münzel who took the offensive, after Bill wrote a slightly provocative article in 1978, "An Approach to Chinese Law."  Bill made the still-valid point that codified Chinese law, while analogous to the civil law of the European tradition, is really quite fundamentally different. Looking at the broad sweep of Chinese history, he observed:

Law is about how government functions.  The subject of law is the Emperor who looks at the universe of China from the center . . . .   Mostly, he is interested in seeing that his instructions are being carried out.

Examining a set of laws focused on trade, Bill set out to show that they were really about the "distribution of goods in China when distribution involves payment." In his conclusion, he makes the simple, but fundamental, point: "Law is internal to the government." Münzel took great umbrage and responded with a “Comment” on Jones’s article, complaining with perhaps Teutonic leniency toward a common lawyer who had strayed too far off the reservation that "Professor Jones . . . presents his material in such a way that the reader must reach mistaken conclusions, even if these are not intended by Professor Jones."

To my mind, it seemed like a repetition of the famous exchange between Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Fitzgerald tried to get Hemingway to see that the rich were "different from you and me" in some existential way; Hemingway gruffly retorted, "Yes, they have more money." In parallel fashion, Jones was making the point that Chinese law is different from other civil law, to which Münzel replied, "Yes, it is Chinese." Like Hemingway, Münzel was literally correct but missed the point fundamentally. In his reply to the comments, Bill Jones wrote, in a manner reflecting his puzzlement at Münzel’s attack and his own deep humility:

. . . I am a little puzzled as to how to proceed since Dr. Münzel’s comments seem to me to have almost no relation to what I wrote.

. . . I find Chinese law a very difficult field. So does everyone I know who is connected with it. After reading this piece by Dr. Münzel, it seems to me that he is in the same boat with the rest of us.

Bill went on to drive home his point that part of the problem then (and now) was trying to understand the Chinese legal system as just another version of the civil law, which it clearly was not. Regardless of the personal assault by Münzel, he ascribes it to their shared predicament in trying to make sense of an impenetrable system.

A final example of Bill’s wry attitude and ability to go to the core of a problem was his piece in the Washington University Law Quarterly, "The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China," written shortly after the promulgation of China’s last constitution in 1982. Noting that the "written constitution was not the place to start if one wanted to know what the government of China was really like," Bill adduced an apt and simple illustration:

Deng Xiaoping is nominally an official who is chairman of a committee that supervises the Army; he is subordinate, on paper, to Congress. He has never held the very top posts in either the government or Party. Yet it is quite clear that if Deng were to go to E Mei Shan to contemplate nature and observe the sacred monkeys for an extended time, E Mei Shan is where the government of China would be.

This is typical of Bill’s academic writing – devoid of cant and jargon, direct and clear, even when upsetting conventional wisdom or logical suppositions. Though somewhat ironic, it is also matter-of-fact: China’s written constitution is not the foundation of its political and legal system, not the basic law found in any modern Western legal order. This is not to say there is no constitution, but rather to determine where to find it. Vintage Bill.

Not to recognize Jean Engstrom Jones, Bill’s wife and life partner, would be a grievous omission.  She was a top antitrust lawyer, first in the Chicago firm of Chadwell & Kayser and later in a solo practice in St. Louis, where her talents were much in demand, particularly by a local multinational, Monsanto. Notwithstanding the demands of her own busy practice and important clients, she endeavored to share as much of Bill’s interest and work in Asia as her work permitted. Their devotion to each other was heartwarming, and I know their many friends and acquaintances will long retain memories of shared dinners, cultural events and other outings that Bill and Jean enjoyed at home and abroad. 

And, last, I would be remiss not to mention, since it was so much a part of Bill’s and Jean’s lives, their serious commitment to Christian Science. In a day and age where conspicuous religiosity pervades much of public and private life, with political figures pharisaically proclaiming their beliefs, Bill’s quiet, conscientious pursuit of his religion was refreshing. Anyone who traveled with Bill knew that he never went any distance without his well-thumbed Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures. Nevertheless, Bill’s religion was mostly private and lived by example rather than by proselytizing.

Bill Jones will be missed, but for all his many gifts be long remembered. As the poet wrote:
"Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere."

September 28, 2005 in People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Job opening with the ABA's Asia Law Initiative

I have received the following announcement:

The Asia Law Initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA-Asia) is a public service project that provides technical assistance in support of law reform in Asia. ABA-Asia seeks candidates to fill a Project Manager position based in ABA-Asia’s Washington, D.C. office. The Project Manager develops, obtains outside funding for, and implements projects and activities in various Asian countries, including China. Some travel to the region is required.

Additional Qualifications:
Qualified candidates will possess: (1) a Juris Doctor Degree; (2) at least five years of practical legal experience, including a minimum of one year working on donor-funded international legal reform programs; (3) excellent writing and editing skills; (4) proficiency in the Chinese language; and (5) knowledge of Asian (particularly, Chinese) history, geography, and politics.

How to Apply:
Interested individuals should send resume and references to Ms. Allison Fayle, at: no later than Friday, October 7, 2005. ABA-Asia will contact only those candidates whom it selects for interviews. The candidate ultimately selected must be ready to commence work by mid-November 2005. Salary is in the high $60's, excellent benefits are provided.

September 27, 2005 in Internships/Employment Opportunities | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 23, 2005

China's latest IP storm brewing?

Condom A company in China has begun marketing condoms under the brand names "Clinton" (克林顿) and "Lewinsky" (莱温斯基). Packages of a dozen will also include a card with a racy picture (春宫图) on one side and an adult joke (成人笑话) on the other.

Apparently neither of the two persons after whom the condoms are named has been consulted, but the general manager of the company assures us that his company holds the trademark, and has indeed turned down an offer of 10 million yuan for it.

My thanks to Maochun Yu for this story.

Web references:

September 23, 2005 in News - Chinese Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fulbright awards for China: it's not too late!

I have received the following announcement:

Late applications for 2006-07 Fulbright Scholar grants in China are being accepted from scholars in a wide variety of sub-field of law including: administrative, business, contract, investment, civil, tax, constitutional comparative, intellectual property and international. Grants are for 5 or 10 months. Five-month grants start in August 2006 or February 2007 and academic year grants start in August 2006. Applicants may express a preference regarding host institution and host city, but final determination of placements is at the discretion of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Beijing in consultation with the Ministry of Education. Applicants do NOT need to secure a letter of invitation. Applicants must have a minimum of 5 years of law school teaching experience either full-time or as an adjunct. The lecturing grants in China include a generous benefits package.
For more information visit or contact David Adams, or 202-686-4021.

September 21, 2005 in Fellowships/Research Opportunities | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

William C. Jones

Jones_2 I am deeply saddened to announce the passing away last Friday of William Jones, Charles Nagel Professor Emeritus of International and Comparative Law at Washington University Law School in St. Louis. Bill was truly a wonderful human being -- highly respected by his colleagues for his work and warmly beloved for his character. When I first came across Bill's work, I was struck in particular by his writing style: plain and direct, without a touch of jargon. When he found Chinese law confusing -- and it often is -- he said so directly, instead of hiding behind a thicket of impenetrable language and hoping that the reader would blame himself.

I hope in about a week or so to post here a collection of tributes from his colleagues. Until then, here is something written in 1996 by Prof. William Alford of Harvard Law School that will serve very well: Download alford_tribute.pdf. Here also is something I contributed to the same symposium in Bill's honor: Download clarke_tribute.pdf

This post is open to comments if anyone would like to add remarks of their own.

Ave atque vale.

September 20, 2005 in News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 19, 2005

OECD publishes "Economic Survey of China 2005"

The OECD has just come out with "Economic Survey of China 2005", its assessment and recommendations regarding the main economic challenges faced by China. Following is a summary of the report's assessment of legal issues:

Prospects could be enhanced by further modernisation of the business framework,

The growing importance of the private sector in supporting the economy makes it all the more important to further modernise the legal framework for business. The government is preparing legislation in three important areas: bankruptcy law, company law and the implementation of the constitutional amendment on property rights. The second draft of the bankruptcy law has now passed the legislature and is generally acknowledged to follow international best practice. The law should clearly establish the precise claims that employees have on assets, limiting payments to wages owed to employees and leaving other costs, such as redundancy and resettlement expenses, to social funds. Secured creditors would be more likely to lend to private companies under such circumstances. A new company law is under consideration. A reduction in the barriers to the formation of both limited and joint stock companies should be a priority. The upper limits on the number of shareholders in a limited company should be abolished, while at the lower end companies with one shareholder should be allowed. For both sorts of companies the minimum capital requirements needed for incorporation should be lowered. Such changes would facilitate the expansion of privately-owned companies. The revised company law should aim to improve corporate governance, notably offering better protection to minority shareholders in both quoted and unquoted public companies and defining the role of corporate bodies such as the supervisory board and the duties of directors. In addition, the proposed anti-monopoly law should cover a much wider range of anti-competitive activities than do current laws. Finally, rapid introduction of the laws to implement the constitutional amendment on private property rights should be envisaged.

with better enforcement of laws in the economic sphere

Beyond the content of the law, though, there is a more substantial problem of giving force to economic laws. A relatively complete set of laws and regulations covering intellectual property rights is in force, having been updated in 2001. The focus of government policy in this area has now switched to the enforcement of these laws. Adequate protection of intellectual property is also of increasing importance to Chinese entrepreneurs. Weaknesses here may hold back the degree of innovation and product development of local companies. At present, in this and other areas, it can be very difficult to obtain judgements in court and even more difficult to obtain enforcement of the judgement. Such difficulties are not just felt by foreign enterprises. Chinese entrepreneurs feel that expansion across provincial borders is made difficult by the lack of objectivity of local judiciaries when it comes to trying cases involving the infringement of trade secrets, intellectual property rights and contract enforcement more generally. The solution would appear to require a series of steps. One might be to transfer some of the financing of courts to the central government; another would be increase the extent of specialisation of the courts (notably in the area of bankruptcy and intellectual property).

To the list of imminent legislation should be added a substantially revised Securities Law, which could be passed as early as the end of this year, and in any case probably next year.

September 19, 2005 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

China Law Digest: August issue available

The August 2005 issue of the China Law Digest is now available here.

September 14, 2005 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

China's WTO implementation

Several US business organizations have recently released reports on China's WTO compliance and the business environment in China.

  • The US-China Business Council has issued a report dated Sept. 14, 2005 entitled "China's WTO Implementation: An Assessment of China's Fourth Year of WTO Membership." The report is available here: PDF format | HTML format. The USCBC also surveys its member companies annually to get a snapshot of the business environment in China. The results of that survey, dated Aug. 30, 2005, are available here.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers has a report dated Sept. 6, 2005 entitled "Review of China's Compliance with Its WTO Commitments."
  • The American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai released their 2005 White Paper on American Business in China on Sept. 1, 2005. So far only the 2004 White Paper is available on their web site, but the 2005 White Paper should be available soon. Click on "Publications" on AmCham China's home page.
  • On Sept. 13, 2005, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its 2005 report on China's WTO implementation. So far only the 2004 report is available on its web site, but presumably the 2005 report will be available soon. A press release summarizing the report's conclusions is available here.

September 13, 2005 in Commentary, Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Asia Foundation's Beijing office seeks program officer in law and governance

I have received an announcement from the Asia Foundation stating that the Foundation "is soliciting applications from resident Chinese nationals for the position of Program Officer, Law and Governance, China, based in the Foundation’s Beijing office." The full announcement is attached here: Download asiafoundation.pdf. The application deadline is Sept. 30, 2005.

September 12, 2005 in Internships/Employment Opportunities | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

LexisNexis launches Chinese law database

This is not exactly news, since it was announced last January, but I only recently learned that LexisNexis (hereinafter "Lexis") has launched a Chinese law service called LexisNexis China Online ( According to the press release announcing the launch, much of the content will come from Lexis's acquisition of, a tax and financial information provider, and from licensing agreements with the State Information Center (the party behind the website) and Beijing University's (for its English-language content on

Although the "launch" was announced last January, that does not seem to mean the service was actually available; a further press release in July announced that the service had just been "unveiled".

If anyone has actually used this service, please let us know what you think. This post is open for comments.

Web references:

September 11, 2005 in News - Miscellaneous, Research Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Criticism of Yahoo!'s role in prosecution of journalist Shi Tao

In a news release dated Sept. 6, Reporters Without Borders has criticized Yahoo! because Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. (hereinafter "Yahoo HK") "provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict" journalist Shi Tao.

This post is not going to examine the merits of the case against Shi. What I want to discuss is an interesting sentence in the news release, where it says, "[T]he company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate . . . .  But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations?" According to a Reuters report, Yahoo! did indeed subsequently make precisely this claim in a statement emailed to Reuters by Yahoo HK:

"Just like any other global company, Yahoo! must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based," Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters by the firm's Hong Kong arm.

RWB may have accepted Yahoo's claim too easily. Assuming that Yahoo HK is, as it appears to be, a Hong Kong entity, then it is not generally subject to PRC law. It is, of course, subject to Hong Kong law. But Article 18(1) of the Basic Law, the PRC statute that serves as Hong Kong's constitution, states: "National laws shall not be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region except for those listed in Annex III to this Law." Annex III to the Basic Law lists the following laws:

1. Resolution on the Capital, Calendar, National Anthem and National Flag of the People's Republic of China
2. Resolution on the National Day of the People's Republic of China
3. Order on the National Emblem of the People's Republic of China Proclaimed by the Central People's Government
4. Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea
5. Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China
6. Regulations of the People's Republic of China Concerning Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities

None of these would seem to provide any basis for requiring a Hong Kong company such as Yahoo HK to hand over information to the PRC authorities, and the company has not to my knowledge claimed that any Hong Kong law required it to do so. If Yahoo HK were a wholly-owned subsidiary of a PRC-domiciled company (let's call it "Yahoo China Parent"), then there would be a plausible case for saying that Yahoo China Parent could be required by the Chinese government to cause its wholly-owned HK subsidiary to do certain things. But since Yahoo HK is listed as a subsidiary of Yahoo!, Inc., the US parent, in the latter's most recent Form 10-K (Annual Report for 2004, dated March 11, 2005), then it seems that no entity in the chain of control is under PRC jurisdiction and required to comply with PRC law. Whether or not to comply with a request or demand for information becomes just a business decision.

The facts here are complicated and I may have got some wrong. I am opening this post to comments if anyone can add more factual details or legal analysis. (There are many other places on the web to rant against Yahoo!, so please don't do so here.)

September 10, 2005 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (7)

Friday, September 9, 2005

Dog bites man

MSNBC's "Peculiar Postings", one of those websites that carries silly news stories with headlines such as "Bald German loses fight for toupee funding" or "Housewife burns down home trying to destroy spiders", recently carried an item poking fun at Nanjing for banning bald taxi drivers. According to the story, filed by Reuters, "In a bid to spruce up the city’s image, authorities in China's Nanjing are banning taxi drivers who are bald, wear their hair too long, have mustaches or wear too much makeup."

I found the original story in the Jinling [Nanjing] Evening News (金陵晚报) and discovered that it wasn't quite so silly as originally reported: it says that taxi drivers may not shave their heads bald, but does not prohibit the naturally bald from driving (仪容仪表整洁,男司机不蓄长发、怪发、不理光头、不留小胡子,女司机不浓妆艳抹,穿着得体大方). But more fundamentally, are these regulations really silly enough to rate an appearance in "Peculiar Postings"? I did a little more research and discovered that my intuition was correct: not only may private taxi companies in the United States impose dress codes of this nature on their employees (see, e.g., City Cab Co. of Orlando, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 628 F.2d 261 (D.C.Cir.1980)), but local governments, at least to some degree, may do so as well (La Grande v. B & L Services, Inc., 432 So.2d 1364, 1367 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983)). So let's give Nanjing a break.

Incidentally, for a comparison of Beijing and Shanghai cab drivers, see the following:

September 9, 2005 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Rural activist Chen Guangcheng seized in Beijing

The Washington Post reports that police from Shandong Province, where the city of Linyi is located, seized (in Beijing) Chen Guangcheng, "a blind peasant who has been preparing a class-action lawsuit to challenge population-control abuses in the eastern city of Linyi, . . . a few days after he arrived in Beijing for meetings with lawyers and journalists. He was seized just as the Chinese government opened an international legal conference here." The full story is available here.

Jerome Cohen, who had met with Chen in Beijing the night before to discuss his lawsuit and its risks, is quoted in the WP article:

"This seems to be a case of local officials who have blatantly abused their legal powers, and have no legitimate defense against the case he brought against them, resorting to extralegal methods to cut off his ability to pursue justice," Cohen said. "It's very, very sad, and another example of how rough the legal situation is in rural areas."

At least some sectors of the central government are said to be in support of Chen, thus reinforcing the familiar picture of black-hatted local officials against the white-hatted central government. But the local officials aren't forcing abortions out of sheer orneriness. They're forcing them because unplanned births are one of the many performance targets against which their performance is measured, and therefore on which their job prospects depend. And that performance target is set and measured because central policy says it should be.

As long as the central government insists that local officials be selected from above instead of elected from below, the Chinese political system is going to need a system of performance targets against which officials can be measured. As the current case demonstrates, it's very difficult to tell local officials: "Reach this target no matter what, but don't be too aggressive in how you do it." If the system doesn't reward moderation and humaneness, you can't expect local officials to have these qualities in abundance (something that might be said about any political system, of course).

September 8, 2005 in News - Chinese Law | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2005

September issue of CECC newsletter now available

The September issue of China Human Rights and Rule of Law Update, the newsletter of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is now available. All issues since June, 2005 are available in PDF and HTML format here. For those who cannot access the CECC website, I am attaching the newsletter in HTML format here: Download cecc_newsletter__september_1_2005.htm

September 4, 2005 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2005

China drops rule against undergraduate marriages

With the start of a new academic year, new rules have come into effect governing student behavior. The Rules on the Administration of Students in Ordinary Institutes of Higher Education (普通高等学校学生管理规定) were substantially revised last March and became effective on Sept. 1. Some of the major changes are noted below.

  • The long-standing prohibition on marriage by college students has disappeared. Under the former rules, college students wishing to marry were required to withdraw from the university. Furthermore, the new version of the Rules deletes previous language allowing for disciplinary action on the grounds of "evil character and corrupt morals" (品行极为恶劣,道德败坏), requiring instead specific acts. It's not clear whether the new Rules would have saved two students who were expelled last year from a university in Chengdu merely for making out in an empty study room; their appeal to court was rejected in January, 2005. But they are part of a trend toward increasing respect for personal privacy, and decreasing interest on the part of authorities in controlling every aspect of citizens' lives through their work unit. The revised Marriage Registration Regulations (婚姻登记条例) issued in August, 2003 eliminated the requirement of work unit involvement (through the issuance of a certificate) when citizens wished to get divorced.
  • While the old Rules allowed universities to expel students for a little canoodling, apparently cheating was not an expellable offense. In two recent cases, students expelled for just this reason have taken their universities to court and have won. The new Rules make clear that cheating is a violation.
  • The new Rules establish a procedure for students to challenge disciplinary sanctions imposed by their schools, and require schools to follow certain procedures in imposing the sanctions. This particular revision may stem from a desire to reduce what seems to be a growing number of student lawsuits against their universities.

Web references:

September 3, 2005 in News - Chinese Law | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Friday, September 2, 2005

Louise Arbour holds press conference on human rights in China

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour held a press conference in China on Sept. 2, the last day of her trip to China, in which she commented on a number of issues related to human rights in China.

  • She reported that she had urged China to release "reliable data" about the death penalty so that it could be subject to informed debate. "I'm not interested only in raw numbers or statistics," she said. "What is critical is not just that we have a total number, but that ... in a social sense that this be broken down with enough information so we can appreciate what these numbers actually mean."
  • She pushed for a timetable for ratification by China of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but apparently did not get one.
  • She reported that she had urged China to provide for judicial review of all decisions concerning the deprivation of liberty, including re-education through labor (RETL). As an administrative decision, RETL should at least in theory be challengeable under the administrative litigation law, and such challenges have in some cases been brought. There are indeed other deprivations of liberty, such as confinement on the basis of alleged mental illness, that are not challengeable even in theory.

September 2, 2005 in News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)