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Past Event

Rule of Law in China: Prospects and Challenges

As China’s newly appointed politburo begins the transition to political leadership, they will confront a host of critical policy issues, few of which are easy to resolve. The development of China’s legal system is arguably the most consequential issue confronting China’s new leaders, and the direction of future legal reforms will have deep reverberations in matters of human rights, sociopolitical stability, the transformation of the political system, and prospects of the country’s economic growth.

On November 28, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted the launch of In the Name of Justice: Striving for the Rule of Law in China (Brookings Press, 2012), a new book by Professor He Weifang, one of China’s most influential legal thinkers. The discussion brought together prominent American legal scholars to present a critical assessment of the development of China’s legal system and concluded with a discussion between U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer and John L. Thornton, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brookings, on the significance of the ongoing search for constitutionalism in China.


Panel 1: The Quest for Judicial Independence


He Weifang

Professor - Peking University Law School

Panel 2: Prospects and Challenges for Rule of Law

Jon Huntsman

Former Brookings Expert

Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Chairman - Huntsman Cancer Institute


William P. Alford

Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law; Vice Dean, Graduate Program and International Legal Studies; Director, East Asian Legal Studies - Harvard Law School


Jerome Cohen

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations - Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

Panel 3: Constitutionalism and its Significance for China

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