Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Chen Guangheng/NYU affair

The circumstances of Chen Guangcheng's leaving New York University have been in the news lately and the subject of dispute. Essentially, Chen says he is being pushed out due to pressure on NYU from the Chinese government. (Here's his statement (web version here).) NYU says that the original arrangement was that he would come and be supported for a year, and the year is up. (Here's an interview with Jerome Cohen, and here's a good post from China Digital Times that puts the whole story together with links to all these souces.)

My impression is that NYU is more sinned against than sinning here; the one-year deal squares with my recollection, and I think it's beyond question that NYU has been quite generous to Chen during the time he's been there. If you believe that NYU has an obligation to look after Chen indefinitely, then of course you'll see him as being booted out, but I note that neither Chen nor anyone else has offered actual evidence, or even specific (as opposed to general) allegations, of Chinese pressure on NYU to get rid of him. Activist Bob Fu, for example, declines to identify any direct pressure from China, but still manages to imply that NYU did something discreditable: "There is also self-censorship, particularly if a college president believes their China campus or the future enrollment of Chinese students will be sabotaged." In other words, there are absolutely no facts that could prove Fu wrong. He just knows.

Prof. James Feinerman of Georgetown Law School has kindly permitted me to quote his post to the Chinalaw list on this subject:

I'm taking this in from London, where there's little to no interest in this development. However, I have several reactions to the news and to how it's become public. First of all, a little history - Months ago my colleagues and I at Georgetown were approached by Chen's "people" (yes, he has them), sounding us out about a move to Georgetown (and presumably, more importantly, DC). This set off certain "alarm bells" - why was he leaving or interested in leaving NYU? The pretext for his departure to the US less than a year earlier was the fellowship he received to study at NYU; would moving elsewhere upset that? We were assured that, No, he was just "reviewing his options," probably because the term of his stay was coming to an end after one year. Obviously, he's been checking elsewhere, if rumors of his departure for Fordham are true. That's just one reason not to buy his story that PRC interference has caused his "ouster" from NYU. Secondly, he's waited until the very end of his stay at NYU - the term of which was well known all along - to voice his first complaints about the mistreatment he's suffered. If this were an ongoing problem, why not previously? Third, along with others (such as both Don Clarke and I), Jerry Cohen and a host of China scholars in the US regularly write, speak and even testify before committees of the US Congress and other governmental bodies about China's human rights abuses, flawed rule of law and other shortcomings - rarely pulling our punches - and have faced no retaliation for doing so. We still get visas to visit the PRC, have regular interchange with Chinese colleagues and (to my knowledge, at least) have caused no undue problems for our home institutions with our activities. Notwithstanding this, I take [another contributor]'s point that a few Western academics have been targetted - Perry Link and Andy Nathan come immediately to mind. Old habits die hard among the Communist diehards.
We may have to remember back to the era of the Tiananmen dissidents - Wu'er Kaixi, Chai Ling and others - to find a good analog for Chen. They came to the US after the massacre, were lionized for a while as the heroes of the "Democracy Movement," and then faded from public attention in fairly short order. As that happened, they became vocal and bitter, complaining just like Chen, that they were betrayed, that the cushy welcome they received was evaporating as memories faded. In short, they learned (as Jerry Cohen liked to quip at East Asian Legal Studies lunches to the invited speakers) that "there is no free lunch." After a reasonable transition, they were supposed to find something to do, on their own. In Chen's case, he's had a pretty sweet deal - a year of housing in Washington Square, financial support, translators, educational opportunities if he chose. Understandably, he's unhappy. But biting the hand that fed you - well, for a year - makes Chen seem like an ingrate.
Finally, Chen mistakes what he knows (and what he knows works) in China for the way things work in the US. He assumes that the PRC government - or government in general - can make academics fall in line. How little he knows us. Nothing rankles the academy more than a heavy governmental hand - especially that of one viewed by most as a vile totalitarian autocracy - trying to wield influence. It's more likely to cause academics - even academic administrators - to react in opposition. We prize our freedom more than that. It's a shame he's failed to learn at least that much about the institution that has sheltered him and his family for the past 16 months or the country of his exile. This latest screed, however, is likely to backfire. Remember Solzhenitsyn? Despite his heroism, his Nobel prize, and his writerly brilliance, he was remembered more as a reactionary scold, ranting about the West while enjoying its perks. From various accounts, Chen also risks becoming a captive and a mouthpiece for the religious right, anti-abortion, and China-threat factions here in the US. His current story will resonate with them, but in the longer run it promises he will receive even less attention from influential mainstream opinion makers in this country.


June 18, 2013 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chinese law schools: a ranking (sort of)


I just came across a ranking of Chinese law schools, posted on the web in April 2012. The source is a book entitled "Picking a University and Selecting a Major: A Guide to Applying to the 2012 College Entrance Examination" (挑大学 选专业-2012高考志愿填报指南). I'm reprinting the list below, translated by Google Translate with a few modifications by me.

A few caveats and observations:

  1. These rankings appear to have been compiled as an individual effort of the author of the book. I have no idea what methodology he used.
  2. This doesn't exactly rank "law schools." What it ranks is "the study of law." And the study of law here is defined to include law (narrowly defined), Marxist-Leninist theory, sociology, political science, and police studies. Thus, even if you think that Peking University ought to outrank Renmin University as a law school, maybe Renmin University really does outrank Peking University in Marxist-Leninist theory by more than enough to make up the difference.
  3. Law studies at the Institute for International Relations, well known as China's spy school, don't do very well at 95th. Maybe they're putting their resources into computer science these days.
  4. In another table on the same web page you can see what people are studying these days. Not surprisingly, engineering is pretty popular (801379 graduating undergrads in 2011). What did surprise me was the comparable figures for some of the other majors: apparently the romantic types who take literature (288014) and arts (181158) still outnumber (separately; you don't even need to add them together) those who take all of the courses subsumed under "law" combined (113342).



School Name


A + +

Renmin University of China


A + +

Beijing University


A + +

Wuhan University


A + +

Tsinghua University


A + +

China University of Political Science and Law


A + +

Jilin University


A + +

Fudan University


A + +

Southwest University of Political Science and Law


A + +

Nanjing University


A + +

Sun Yat-sen University


A + +

East China University of Political Science and Law


A +

Central China Normal University


A +

Beijing Normal University


A +

Xiamen University


A +

Zhongnan University


A +

Shandong University


A +

Zhejiang University


A +

Nankai University


A +

Nanjing Normal University


A +

Northeast Normal University


A +

Huazhong University of Science and Technology


A +

Chongqing University


A +

Shanghai Jiaotong University


A +

Suzhou University


A +

Sichuan University


A +

Northwest University of Political Science and Law



East China Normal University



Xiangtan University



Zhengzhou University



Shanghai University



Heilongjiang University



Yunnan University



Hunan University



Shanxi University



Hunan Normal University



Hebei University



South China Normal University



Foreign Affairs College



Central South University



Shenzhen University



Southwestern University of Finance and Economics



Tianjin Normal



Jinan University



Xi'an Jiaotong University



Yantai University



Shanghai University of Finance and Economics



University of International Business and Economics



Nanchang University



Liaoning University



South China University of Technology



Southwestern University



Shanghai Normal University


B +

Tongji University


B +

Capital Normal University


B +

Shanghai Institute of Politics


B +

Central University for Nationalities


B +

Southeast University


B +

Anhui Normal


B +

Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics


B +

Yangzhou University


B +

Central University of Finance and Economics


B +

Anhui University


B +

Central University for Nationalities


B +

Ningbo University


B +

Guangdong College of Commerce


B +

Lanzhou University


B +

China Youth Political College


B +

Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics


B +

Shenyang Normal


B +

Hehai University


B +

Shanghai International Studies University


B +

Hubei University


B +

China Agricultural University


B +

Zhejiang Gongshang University


B +

Henan University of Economics and Law


B +

East China University of Science and Technology


B +

Beijing Institute of Technology


B +

Henan Normal University


B +

Guangxi Normal


B +

Henan University


B +

Huazhong Agricultural University


B +

Zhejiang Normal


B +

Fujian Normal University


B +

Ocean University of China


B +

Changchun University of Science and Technology


B +

Jiangxi Normal


B +

Guangzhou University


B +

Guangdong University of Foreign Studies


B +

Dalian Maritime University


B +

Guangxi University for Nationalities


B +

Hebei Normal


B +

Hainan University


B +

Sichuan Normal


B +

Hainan Normal


B +

Institute of International Relations


B +

Northwestern University


B +

Jiangsu University


B +

Northwestern Polytechnical University


B +

Gansu Institute of Politics and Law


B +

Hunan University of Science and Technology


B +

Wenzhou University


B +

Nanjing University of Finance and Economics


B +

Zhejiang University of Technology


February 22, 2013 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teng Biao's defense in the second trial of the Xia Junfeng case - English translation

Seeing Red in China has published a good translation of human rights lawyer Teng Biao's 2010 defense statement on behalf of Xia Junfeng, a street vendor charged with murder after a deadly fight with chengguan (urban administration) officials. I'm reproducing their introduction to the case below; for the introduction and links to the full statement in English and Chinese, click here.

February 21, 2013 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pu Zhiqiang barred from all mainland micro-blogging sites

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More on the timing of the Bo Xilai trial

Now we're being told (Global Times story here) that it will be after the March meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. According to the report, unnamed insiders say that the case is complicated and that the trial might last ten days.

Ten days would be extraordinarily atypical in a criminal trial. A recent study of a large sample (non-random, but those are the limitations of research in China) of criminal cases found that two thirds of Basic Leval court cases and one third of Intermediate Level court cases were completed within one hour, including adjournments. Of course, that's hardly surprising - in the vast majority of cases, the defendants admit most or all of the prosecution's case, so these trials are functionally similar to a US court's processing of a plea- bargained deal. (This is by no means to claim they are identical or problematic in the same way.) What empirical research shows, however, is what anecdotal evidence has long suggested: that matters of importance are almost never decided at the trial stage, and that the mere fact that the case has gotten that far is evidence that a guilty verdict will be forthcoming. (The acquittal rate is below 1%.)

But the Bo case is of course an atypical case. Still, if he’s not contesting the charges (Chinese criminal procedure doesn’t have a formal guilty/not guilty plea), one wonders what can be so complicated about it. If he is contesting the charges, then going forward with the trial really is atypical. Possibly he is being allowed to contest some minor aspects of the charges – for example, did he take $10 million in bribes or was it only $9 million – and the court will reject a few elements of the prosecution’s case in an attempt to show that it wasn’t all pre-ordained from the start.

January 27, 2013 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stuart Schram, 1924-2012

Last July, Stuart Schram, a giant in the field of modern China studies, passed away. He was my professor when I did an M.Sc. degree at SOAS, and he left an indelible impression - truly a brilliant man. The Dec. 2012 issue of the China Quarterly carries a terrific obituary by Roderick MacFarquhar that is not a simple hagiography but captures him in all his complexity. I'm very lucky to have known him.

January 27, 2013 in Commentary, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New dean for Peking U's School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen

It's Philip J. McConnaughay, who will step down as dean of Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law on July 31st of this year and take up his new duties the following day. Here's the news report.

January 24, 2013 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sentencing philosophy in Chinese criminal law: Zhang Xiaojun versus Liu Xiaobo

According to the official Xinhua report, Zhang Xiaojun was Gu Kailai’s accomplice in a premeditated murder. He was convicted of intentional homicide. His sentence was nine years.

According to the official indictment, Liu Xiaobo committed the following acts:

  • He published a number of “inciting articles” containing “rumors and slanders” (no slanders against any persons living or dead are mentioned in the indictment).
  • Together with others, he "drafted and concocted" Charter 08.
  • He distributed Charter 08 via e-mail to overseas websites and posted it on overseas websites.

That’s it. Really. See for yourself. He was sentenced to eleven years.

Just sayin’.


August 20, 2012 in Commentary, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Where Gu Kailai will likely spend her time: China's Club Fed


Here's a profile of Qincheng (秦城) Prison, where high-ranking prisoners stay and where the cognoscenti figure Gu Kailai will go (assuming she's not spirited off to a nice tropical island somewhere).

August 20, 2012 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous, Other, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ni Yulan's defense statement

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Profile of Pu Zhiqiang in Slate

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chen Guangcheng at the Council on Foreign Relations

Here's a link to the video (one hour) and the transcript. It's a little bit unfortunate that we can't hear or read the original Chinese version of what Chen said, but I have seen (or more accurately, heard) the interpreter, June Mei, at work on many occasions and she's the best, so it's very unlikely that she missed anything.

May 31, 2012 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 21, 2012

How Chen Guangcheng escaped (follow-up)

I posted a few days ago about this, linking to a Chinese account and apologizing for not having the time to supply a translation. Two commenters kindly noted the existence of partial translations, but I don't want to keep this information buried in the comments. Here are the two partial translations:


May 21, 2012 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How Chen Guangcheng escaped

Here's an account (in Chinese - sorry, no time to translate) from iSun Affairs magazine (a web-based journal) of how Chen Guangcheng escaped from Dongshigu Village. As we might have guessed, he had help from various people but also had to rely on himself quite a bit. The account is quite detailed and names names. Apparently the editors decided to include these details because the authorities had already figured out the people involved.

Here's a video interview with Chen's brother, Chen Guangfu, about what happened to him afterwards.

May 17, 2012 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gao Zhisheng reported alive

It is a sign of the absurd and cruel vendetta that the Chinese government has carried out against Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) that his being seen alive should be headline news. After all, he has been in the custody, acknowledged or not, of that same government more or less constantly since February 2009. He was last seen alive by family members in April 2010.

His wife now reports that his father father-in-law and brother were able to visit him in prison on March 24. His brother has confirmed the meeting. Here's the Radio Free Asia report.

[March 30 correction indicated above.]

March 27, 2012 in Commentary, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) on Liu Xiaobo

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wheelchair-bound threat to the people's democratic dictatorship


Fresh from its triumph over the dark forces of Hollywood in their attempt to topple the state by shaking the hand of a blind man, the people's democratic dictatorship has now set its sights, once again, on Ni Yulan, already crippled by earlier police beatings. Apparently she and her husband have been "picking quarrels" and "disturbing public order", both criminal offenses. The New York Times story is here. Apparently the leaders have not been reading books about how China is destined to take over the world. They seem extraordinarily unconfident and fearful.

January 3, 2012 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gao Zhisheng (apparently) found

Chinese prison authorities have apparently notified Gao Zhisheng's brother that he is being held in a prison in Xinjiang. Here's the report from China Aid Association (I added the link about the alleged probation violation):

China Aid Association

(Washington, D.C. – Jan. 1, 2012) For the first time since his most recent forced disappearance 20 months ago, the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng were confirmed on Sunday.

ChinaAid learned that Gao Zhisheng’s older brother, Gao Zhiyi, received written notification on Sunday of Gao’s incarceration in Shaya Prison in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in far western China.  The notification was signed and dated on Dec. 19 by the prison.

Gao disappeared into police custody in April 2010, the most recent in a series of forced disappearances since his 2006 conviction on a subversion charge.  On Dec. 16, just days before his five-year probation period was to have ended, the Chinese government announced that it was sending him to prison for three years for violating his probation.  It was the first word that he was still alive, but no information of his whereabouts or condition was released.

Shaya (Xayar) Prison is located in Aksu Prefecture, about 1,130 kilometers (700 miles) southwest of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

"Gao's internal exile reminds the world of how former Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov was cruelly treated in Siberia in the 1980s," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, a friend of Gao. “The Chinese government can use this remote jail to prevent concerned people from visiting Attorney Gao, but just like Sakharov, Gao's courageous voice can never be silenced by the four walls of his prison cell."

Gao Zhiyi is planning to visit Gao Zhisheng as soon as he gets a physical address of the prison.

The prison’s mailing address is : Shaya Prison, Shaya county, Aksu  Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Postal code: 842208
Prison phone number: +86-997-8402100.

Gao Zhiyi’s phone number: +86-151-9198-5726

January 1, 2012 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Larry Ribstein, RIP

I was shocked and very saddened to hear of Prof. Larry Ribstein's sudden death (apparently from a stroke) on Dec. 24th. In addition to teaching Chinese law, I also teach business associations, and so was familiar with Larry's name and fame before actually meeting him when we were both visiting professors at NYU Law School in 2007-08. You can get a sense of Larry's personality by reading his voluminous writings and blog posts - his style is crystal clear and highly readable, his ideas original and important. But I needed to meet him in person to get a full sense of the man and to realize what a cool guy he was.

As I read others' remembrances, one term keeps cropping up that is one of the first things I noticed, too: intellectually honest. Larry was not afraid to follow his ideas where they led him, but never mischaracterized opposing ideas in order to refute them more easily. He had very strong ideas (in addition to deep learning) on many subjects, but I can think of few people with whom it was more fun to discuss things.

Larry's scholarly productivity is the stuff of legend - lots of it, on a wide range of topics, and all of it top-notch. I once asked him how he managed to do it. His answer: "I don't need a lot of sleep."

So broad is Larry's impact that it even reaches the field of Chinese law. He had been to China and was consulted on the drafting of (what else?) China's Partnership Law.

It is truly sad that such a terrific scholar and colleague has been lost to us.

Here's the announcement from the University of Illinois, and here's a remembrance from Geoffrey Manne (collecting other remembrances as well).

December 25, 2011 in News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An independent candidate's story

Qiao Mu (乔木), an associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University and the director of its Center for International Communications Studies, recently ran (maybe "attempted to run" would be more accurate) as an independent candidate for the Haidian district people's congress. This is the only level of people's congress where candidates are directly elected; delegates to higher-level congresses are selected by lower-level congresses. And this is of course all done under the guidance of the Party. The election was on Nov. 8th. Here's his account:

As an independent candidate, I did not win the election, but got the second largest votes (1300 ballots) after one month campaign with my voluntary supporters, which shaped democracy in my university-community and brought many positive changes in the campus management and people’s mind.

I had NO intention to challenge the ruling party and the political system in the grassroots election. What I cared was the voter’s (faculty and students) opinion, livelihood and rights. However, I encountered increasingly enormous pressure and oppression from the very beginning. My voluntary students were forced to quit the campaign. Many organized spreading rumors and political lies in SMS to defame my personality, motives and actions (mostly on social media), i.e., my campaign was a conspiracy and sponsored by the west media, and I was manipulated by the US embassy, and I will leave the university it is useless to vote for me.

I was shocked to find, in the last week before the vote day, all my social media ( weibo/micro-blog on, blog, renren and my election video on tudou/56 were closed.) I tried to register new one many times on and, but all were closed for a short while. Things went beyond my imagination. All my mobiles and phones were monitored. I was followed by two securities in the campus and two secret agents outside. Many students and faculty members involved were forced verbally to quit me. Some students were required to identify my supporter on CCTV, some parents were asked to come to Beijing to persuade the students to stop.

The Big Brother was watching us.

We did nothing wrong. All we did was in the track of China’s constitution and election law. But I was told there were policy and regulation, which were more important and measurable.

On the vote day of Nov 8, there were numerous banners and flags in the campus, which said to carry on socialist democracy and enhance the rule of law, and to vote gloriously. Many securities and secret agents walked around. People outside of the campus were not allowed to entered for three days.

I was not among the two officially nominated candidates. My name was not in the ballot. However, the voter could write down my name if they voted for me. I got 1296 votes among 8035 turn-outs, the second largest winner, much more than an official candidate. The No.1, a vice presidents of my university, passed the half line only with 117 more votes. If no those 117 votes, the election would be a runoff. He and I, the first two, will be voted another day. In that case, my name will be written on the ballot. Who knows the result?

Farewell to my 10 weibo (Microblogs on, 4 blogs with 100 articles,  and 1 paid Renren ID with twenty thousand followers, most of them were my university (vote zone) contacts.

My social media can be closed, but I will neve close my  mouth and my writing will never stop.

Qiao Mu (Michael)

November 17, 2011 in Commentary, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)