Page 25

18

UN Photo by Paulo Filgueiras

ment has in fact been met. Specifically, the peculiar entrenchment of the Chinese Communist Party in the political system continues to present a substantial risk of manipulation. This manipulation can take many forms, including undue influence over the conduct of judges in performing their functions, and the risk of such manipulation naturally prompts doubt as to whether the government consistently regards the law as a set of binding limitations on its power or instead regards the law as an instrument of social control (as was the case in SEPT China’s dynastic legal system that ended in 1911). And yet we must be careful not to look at China in isolation. My own view, having had varying levels of experience with the legal systems of quite a few countries, is that most of them have governments that sometimes (or routinely) act outside the law. In other words, if China lacks even a “thin” rule of law, then most other countries do as well. Fourth, disagreements exist in China as to just what version of a “thick” rule of law, if any, that country should aspire to today. While pronouncements from the Communist leadership typically seem to reject what Peerenboom calls the Liberal Democratic version, China seems to be increasingly pluralistic, exhibiting important differences in the conceptions of the rule of law and the perceived purposes of the law. Indeed, these disagreements were reflected recently in the issuance of (and then the government’s prompt and paranoid response to) the so-called “China’s Charter 08.” That document, signed in early December 2008 by a great many Chinese – dissidents, academics and even some government officials – called for an end to some of the central features of China’s legal and political system, including one-party rule, and urged their replacement with a system based on human rights and democracy. (See Perry Link, “China’s Charter 08,” as appearing in the Jan. 15, 2008, issue of the New York Review of Books). In short, there is a cacophony of views and voices within China as to what ideological overlay, if any, the rule of law should have. Fifth, China clearly does not today meet the standards of a Liberal Democratic version of a “thick” rule of law. It is this fact, of course, that has attracted such criticism from the West. Dissent is routinely repressed, individual rights are often trumped by collective rights and public participation in the selection of political leaders is largely illusory. In my view, it is perfectly legitimate to draw attention to these shortcomings, although I would urge that we be careful not to find

Chinese ambaSsador GIVEs diplomat’s forum lecture China and the rest of the world are expecting the United States to adopt a friendlier stance toward international cooperation under President Barack Obama. Ambassador Liu Zhenmin, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told an audience at the University of Kansas School of Law on Nov. 14 that the U.S. should WATCH video keep lines of Ambassador Liu’s of free trade Diplomat’s Forum lecture open, get on board with international environmental treaties and work more closely with other world powers on foreign policy issues. “I hope the new American administration will not disappoint the world,” said Liu, who delivered the 2008 Diplomat’s Forum lecture to about 100 people at Green Hall. The Diplomat’s Forum is the law school’s most prestigious annual international and comparative law event. During his talk, Liu outlined challenges facing the United Nations and the new American president, including how to withdraw responsibly from Iraq, engage appropriately with Iran and respond to calls from the international community on climate change. Obama’s first priority will be addressing the global financial crisis. “Appropriately responding to the financial crisis by the new American administration will be its responsibility not only to its own people but also to the rest of the world,” Liu said. “The U.S. economy is the engine of world development, and the crisis originated from Wall Street.” A native of Shanxi Province, Liu graduated from Peking University’s department of English language and literature in 1978 and from its law school in 1981. He joined the Foreign Service in January 1982. Liu has worked at various levels in the department of treaty and law at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has served as deputy permanent representative of China to the United Nations since 2006.

KU LAW MAGAZINE 23

KU Law Magazine | Spring 2009  

A magazine for alumni and friends of the University of Kansas School of Law. Story highlights include: Alumni spread legal roots in rural Ka...

KU Law Magazine | Spring 2009  

A magazine for alumni and friends of the University of Kansas School of Law. Story highlights include: Alumni spread legal roots in rural Ka...