I have been studying Chinese law since the early 1960s – some have said that I began before there was any. The field has expanded so far beyond its narrow scope at that time that this overview will illustrate an old Chinese saying: "riding a horse and looking at flowers." I will first review the growth of this scholarly field, because it is necessary to understand that there are layers of scholarship that reflect first the paucity of formal legal institutions in Maoist China, then the appearance of first shoots of new or rebuilt institutions, and only recently the publication of increasingly deep analyses of the new institutions. I will then summarize issues that have in recent years dominated studies of some Chinese legal institutions of central importance – the courts, the bar, administrative law, and criminal law. I will then discuss the principal issues that the current state of Chinese law seems to present to scholars. I will avoid submerging you under a deluge of names of scholars and citations to their work. For those of you who wish extensive bibliographic information, I note that much of what I will say here draws on a copiously footnoted survey of the field that I published in 2003 in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review. [Westlaw, or SBL send to any who request] I would prefer to spend our precious time here together by focusing on major issues raised by the scholarship.
Stanley B. Lubman,
Looking for Law in China I: Themes and Issues in Western Studies of Chinese Law,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/chinese_legal_studies/21