Zhang Renshan: Nationalism and Legal Modernization in China

Frankfurter Rechtshistorische Abendgespräche

  • Date: Oct 14, 2015
  • Time: 18:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Zhang Renshan
  • Nanjing University / Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies
  • Location: Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
  • Room: Lecture hall of the MPI
  • Host: Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte und das Institut für Rechtsgeschichte, Fachbereich Rechtswissenschaften der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Zhang Renshan: Nationalism and Legal Modernization in China

Together with the Institute for Legal History of the Goethe University Frankfurt, the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History draws on a Frankfurter tradition and is inviting you to the Frankfurter Legal History Evening Talks. These will take place at the beginning and end of each semester organized alternately by the Institute for Legal History of the Goethe University Frankfurt or the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History.

On October 14, 2015 at 6 p.m. Prof. Zhang Renshan, Nanjing University / Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies will talk about „Nationalism and Legal Modernization in China“. The presentation to which you are cordially invited will take place at the auditorium of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History.

Nationalism and Legal Modernization in China

Abstract

In the history of the world, there are different modes of legal modernization. In modern China legal modernization is closely linked to nationalism. The core issue of modern Chinese nationalism is the realization of national sovereignty. Judicial sovereignty is the critical element of the national sovereignty. Independence of judicial sovereignty naturally became one of the most important goals for the nationalist agenda. It determined that legal modernization has developed distinct characteristics in China, ones is different from other countries.

Since 1843 China had lost its judicial sovereignty when western powers gained the right of extraterritoriality or the "consular jurisdiction" via several treaties, which was not fully recovered until 1949, and thus lasted almost a century. During these hundred years, in order to recover the judicial sovereignty, many legal pioneers continually promoted legal changes as internal and took legal or political struggle as external. Legal modernization achieved remarkable results and certain positive social interactions. However, the tree of western law, so vigorously transplanted, ultimately failed to take root and bear fruit in the mainland of Modern China.

Why the compilation of the laws of the Republic of China (the "Six Laws") as the model of modern legal system failed to guide the country to the road of rule of law? Why a group of legal elites within a worldwide renowned legal academia carried on the ideal of the rule of law and kept enlightening the people, but were unable to maintain the rule of law? Why after the new government of PRC was established and completely recovered the sovereignty (including judicial sovereignty), the national public authority was powerful but the citizens’ individual rights were weaken? Why the contemporary Chinese legal system is not consistent with the judicial status of the West -or western countries may not entirely agree with them-nevertheless the country actually has its own comprehensive judicial sovereignty?

Focusing the relationship between nationalism and the modernization of law in Modern China could undoubtedly help to understand some of the above problems. Prof. Dr. Zhang Renshan’s talk on this topic could provide some useful relevant information.

Brief Introduction of Prof. Dr. Zhang Renshan

Prof. Dr. Zhang Renshan is teaching at the Law School of Nanjing University, and the Hopkins- Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in China. Prof. Zhang is one of the leading scholars in legal and social history in PRC. His representative books include: Sovereignty, Legal Rights and Society in Modern China (Jin Dai Zhong Guo De Zhu Quan ,Fa Quan yu Shehui), Law Press , Beijing 2013; Etiquettes, Law and  Society: Legal  Transition  and  Social  Change  in  Qing China (Li,Fa,She Hui:Qingdai Falü  Zhuanxing YüShehui Bianqian), The Commercial Press,  Beijing China,2013;Perspectives in legal and  Social History  (Falü  Shehui Shi De Shiye), Law Press , Beijing,2007; Chinese Society in 1949 (1949 Zhongguo Shehui),  Social Science Academic Press ,Beijing, China ,2005;  Judicial  Corruption and  Social Disorder in China:1928~1949 (Sifa  Fubai Yü Shehui  Shikong),  Social Science Academic Press,Beijing, China, 2004; The Underground Crimnal Organization in Contemporary  China (Dangdai Zhongguo Heibang ) , Jiangsu Peoples Press, Nanjing, 1998. Prof. Zhang is a visiting scholar at MPI Frankfurt from October until December 2015.

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