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Legal Reform in China: The Domestic Debate

UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk with Thomas Kellogg.

September 9, 2009 12:40am to 1:40pm

Lunch provided, please RSVP Fredda Olivares at 510.643.6319

Thomas Kellogg, Open Society and Soros Foundation

Many assumed that China would, as it grows more prosperous, embrace the rule of law, even as it maintains a go-slow approach on political reform. But in March 2008, the Communist Party renewed its support for “socialist legality,” highlighting the role of the Party in the judicial process and explicitly rejecting Western-style legal reforms. Some Chinese critics of the new policy have called for an embrace of global values and renewed efforts to construct independent legal institutions free from Party influence. Others advocate wide-ranging, wholesale structural reforms based on the Western constitutional model.  Still others eschew specific policy proposals and instead offer a nationalist critique of Western governments’ interactions with China.   This ongoing internal debate is vitally important: its outcome will help determine China’s reform path. Those seeking to better understand where China is going need to look closely not just at the ever-growing thicket of new laws and regulations issued by the State, but also at what both the government and its well-meaning critics are saying about the future of political and legal reform in China.