Cover: In the Name of Justice

In the Name of Justice

Striving for the Rule of Law in China

* Thornton Center Series on Chinese Thinkers

As one of China’s most influential law professors, He Weifang has been at the forefront of the country’s treacherous path toward justice and judicial independence for over a decade. Among his many remarkable endeavors was a successful petition in 2003 that abolished China’s controversial regulations permitting the internment and deportation of urban "vagrants," bringing to an end two decades of legal discrimination against migrant workers. His bold remarks at the famous New Western Hills Symposium in 2006, including his assertion that "China’s party-state structure violates the PRC Constitution," are considered a watershed moment in the century-long movement for a constitutional China. With In the Name of Justice, He presents his critical assessment of the state of Chinese legal reform.

In addition to a selection of his academic writings, In the Name of Justice also includes many of He Weifang’s public speeches, media interviews, and open letters, providing additional insight into his dual roles as thinker and practitioner in the Chinese legal world. Among the topics covered are judicial independence, judicial review, legal education, capital punishment, and the legal protection of free speech and human rights. The volume also offers a historical review of the evolution of Chinese traditional legal thought, enhanced by cross-country comparisons.

A proponent of reform rather than revolution, He believes only true constitutionalism can guarantee social justice and enduring stability for China.

"He Weifang has argued for two decades that rule of law, however inconvenient at times to some of those who govern, must be embraced because it is ultimately the most reliable protector of the interests of the country, of the average citizen, and, in fact, even of those who govern."—from the Foreword by John L. Thornton, chairman, Brookings Institution Board of Trustees and Professor and Director of Global Leadership at Tsinghua University

"What struck me—and shocked me as a foreign visitor—was not only that the entire discussion was explicitly critical of the Chinese Communist Party for its resistance to any meaningful judicial reform, but also that the atmosphere was calm, reasonable, and marked by a sense of humor and sophistication in the expression of ideas."—from the Introduction by Cheng Li, director of research and senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings

* The introduction, written by Cheng Li, is free to read in the downloads section.

Praise for the book:

"China stands at a crossroads. Will the Chinese Communist Party continue to remain essentially outside the law, or will China embrace the rule of law in a way that gives its citizens both secure property rights and meaningful human rights? No scholar has formulated this dilemma with greater clarity No one who wishes to understand China today can afford to ignore this book."—Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University

"Since the 1990s, Peking University professor He Weifang has emerged as one of China most influential public intellectuals, passionately advocating for legal reform and political liberalization. The excellent translations in this volume allow English readers to fully grasp his depth (and humor) on topics ranging from judicial independence to the death penalty."—Carl Minzner, Associate Professor of Law, Fordham Law School

"In this truly timely collection, the noted scholar He Weifang displays the erudition, wisdom, and courage that have made him an exemplar of what is best about the legal profession in China and beyond. Kudos to the Thornton China Center for this welldone volume, which will ensure the heroic Professor He they deserve in the western world."—William P. Alford, Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law and Director of East Asian Legal Studies, Harvard Law School