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School of Law

Foundations of Chinese Law

Course Code:
15PLAH045
Status:
Course Not Running 2014/2015
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1

With an impressive legal history spanning over 4000 years, contemporary Chinese legal practice draws upon diverse sources of law, ranging from traditional notions of clan-based property rights and family law, to modern civil and criminal codes derived in part from western models.  The object of this course is to introduce students to the classical foundations of Chinese law through an examination of the legal thought, practices, and institutions of China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911 CE).  

This course examines specific topics in late imperial Chinese law including, but not limited to: traditional Chinese legal theory, criminal law, legal institutions, sources of law, family law, property law, commercial law, late-Qing legal reform, and constitutional law.  Consideration will also be given to evidence of legal continuity and change found during the transition from the imperial period to the republican period (post-1911 C.E.).

Although the course is listed as a 2 hour lecture, it will require a high level of student participation and discussion.  Students will be asked to take an interdisciplinary approach the study of imperial Chinese law by drawing upon weekly readings from the fields of history, literature, sinology, political science, comparative law, and sociology.  All readings will be in English; however, students will be required to master some fundamental terminology related to imperial Chinese law.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 100% coursework, one essay of 1500 words (10%) and one essay of 5000 words (90%).

Suggested reading

Early Legal Thought
  • Xin Ren (1997). The Tradition of the Law and the Law of Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China. Westport & London: Greenwood Press.  [pp. 17-35] [Moodle]
  • The Analects of Confucius—“Wei zheng” [Moodle]
  • Dao de jing—paragraphs 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 17, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 65 [Moodle]
  • Johnston, Ian, tr. (2010)  The Mozi. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong. [pp. 130-165] [Moodle]
  • The Book of Lord Shang—“Reform of the Law”; “Agriculture and Warfare”; “Establishing Laws” [Moodle]
  • Han Feizi—“Having Regulations”; “The Two Handles” [Moodle]
    Nienhauser, William, tr. (1994).  The Grand Scribe’s Records. Vol. 7. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.  [pp. 335-357] [Moodle]
Late Imperial China: Personnel and Institutions
  • Chang Wejen (1994). "Legal Education in Ch'ing China", in Benjamin Elman and Alexander Woodside, eds. Education and Society in Late Imperial China, 1600-1900 Berkeley: University California Press. [pp. 292-321]   [Moodle]
  • T’ung-tsu Ch’ü (1962). Local Government in China under the Ch’ing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [pp. 93-115] [Moodle]
  • Jamieson, George (1921).  Chinese Family Law and Commercial Law.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.  [Chapter II]
  • Bradly W. Reed (2000) Talons and Teeth: County Clerks and Runners in the Qing Dynasty.  Stanford: Stanford University Press. [pp. 69-75, 155-159, and 200-240 (with selected appendices)] [Moodle]
  • BRENAN, B. (1897-8) “The Office of District Magistrate in China,” Journal of the North China Branch, Royal Asiatic Society, vol. XXXII, pp.36-65.
Sources of Law
  • Geoffrey MacCormack (1996)  The Spirit of Traditional Chinese Law.  Athens & London: University of Georgia Press. [Chapters 2, 8, & 9]
  • Thomas Metzger (1973). The Internal Organization of the Ch’ing Bureaucracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [pp. 167-232]  [Moodle]
  • Wang Zhiqiang (2005) “CASE PRECEDENT IN QING CHINA: RETHINKING TRADITIONAL CASE LAW” Columbia Journal of Asian Law 19: 323-XX   [HeinOnline]
  • William C. Jones, tr. (1994) The Great Qing Code. Oxford:  Clarendon Press. [pp. v-vii (Preface), ix-xxx (Contents – skim for a sense of the organization and major categories of the Code), 1-30]  
Crime and Punishment—Theoretical Aspects
  • Geoffrey MacCormack (1996)  The Spirit of Traditional Chinese Law.  Athens & London: University of Georgia Press. [Chapters 6, 7, & 10]
  • Mühlhahn, Klaus (2009) Criminal Justice in China: A History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  [pp. 14-57] [Moodle]
  • Bourgon, Jerome, et al. (2008) Death by a Thousand Cuts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.  [pp. 35-67] [Moodle]
Criminal Law and Procedure: Murder!!!
  • Alford, William P. (1984) “Of Arsenic and Old Law: Looking anew at Criminal Justice in Late Imperial China” California Law Review 72, no. 6: 1180-1256  [focus on pp. 1196-1242] [EBSCOhost]
  • Meijer, M.J. (1991) Murder and Adultery in Late Imperial China. Leiden: Brill.  [pp. 8-38] [Moodle]
  • Djang Chu, tr. (1984) A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence: A Manual for Local Magistrates in Seventeenth-Century China. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.  
China and the West: Extraterritoriality
  • Gray, John ([1878] 2002).  China: A History of the Laws, Manners, and Customs of the People.  New York: Dover Press.  [pp. 46-74] [Moodle]
  • R. Randle Edwards, “Ch’ing Legal Jurisdiction over Foreigners,” in Cohen, Edwards, and Chen, eds., pp. 222-269.
  • “The Lady Hughes Affair, from a Contemporary American Source,” in Keeton, The Development of Extraterritoriality in China, Vol. II, p. 174 et seq.
  • R. Randle Edwards, “The Old Canton System of Foreign Trade,” in Victor Li, ed., Law and Politics in China’s Foreign Trade. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977. [pp. 360-378]. [Moodle]
  • Pår Cassel, “Excavating Extraterritoriality:  The “Judicial Sub-Prefect” as a Prototype for the Mixed Court in Shanghai,” Late Imperial China Vol. 24, No. 2 (December 2003), pp. 156-182.    [JSTOR]
Law and the Family: Marriage and Divorce
  • Bernhardt, Kathryn (1999).  Women and Property in China, 960-1949.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [pp. 161-196] [Moodle]     
  • Huang, Philip C.C. (2001).  Code, Custom, and Legal Practice in China.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [Chapters 9 & 10]
  • Jamieson, George (1921).  Chinese Family Law and Commercial Law.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.  [Chapter II and III]
    Qing Law Reform: Codes, Courts, and Lawyers
  • Huang, Philip C.C. (2001).  Code, Custom, and Legal Practice in China.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [Chapters 2, 3, & 4]
  • Bourgon, Jerome (2004) “Rights, Freedoms, and Customs in the Making of Chinese Civil Law, 1900-1936” in William Kirby ed. Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [pp. 84-112] [Moodle]
  • Connor, Alison (1994) “Training China’s Early Modern Lawyers: Soochow University Law School”  Columbia Journal of Chinese Law 8, no. 1: 1-46.
    Commerce and Law
  • Jamieson, George (1921).  Chinese Family Law and Commercial Law.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.  [Chapter VI]
  • Huang, Philip C.C. (2001).  Code, Custom, and Legal Practice in China.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [Chapter 7]
  • Russell Brockman (1980) “Commercial Contract Law in Late Nineteenth Century Taiwan,” in Cohen, Edwards & Chang Chen (eds.), Essays on China’s Legal Tradition.
    Law and Land
  • Huang, Philip C.C. (2001).  Code, Custom, and Legal Practice in China.  Stanford: Stanford University Press.  [Chapters 5 & 6]
  • Liang Linxia (2007).  Delivering Justice in Qing China.  Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy.  [pp. 147-173] [Moodle]
  • Jamieson, George (1921).  Chinese Family Law and Commercial Law.  Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh.  [Chapter V]
  • Buoye, Thomas (2000).  Manslaughter, Markets, and Moral Economy: Violent Disputes over Property Rights in Eighteenth-Century China.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.