General Course Descriptions for Terms: China
As its name implies, the Seminar on Legal Issues Affecting North America and East Asia will focus on contemporary topics involving Russian or East Asia economic, political, social, or legal relations with the United States. Examples of topics covered include China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the problems and opportunities of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Myanmar’s recent elections, the proposal to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution, increased tensions in U.S.—Russia relations, and Thailand’s political crisis. There will be an organizational meeting of the seminar early in the semester (date TBD) to discuss the course requirements, especially the 20-page research paper. The seminar itself will have eight sessions held on Wednesday evenings from March 2 through April 27. The first seven sessions will be in a video-conference format with Far Eastern National University in Vladivostok, Russia. (Note that, due to Russia no longer observing daylight savings time, the sessions on March 2nd and March 9th will be from 6:10-7:40p, with the final five sessions on March 16th, March 30th, April 6th, April 13th, and April 20th being held from 7:10-8:40p.) Each of the seven sessions will consist of initial presentations originating in either Madison or Vladivostok and followed by questions and discussions from both sides. The eighth and final session will be held on the evening of April 27th and will be a presentation of final papers (exact time TBD). The seminar will be taught in Madison by Chris Smithka and in Vladivostok by Professor Natalia Prisekina. There may also be lectures by visiting scholars from countries in East and Southeast Asia. The course will be offered for two credits.
This seminar is designed to give students an appreciation of the role of law in Chinese society, in the past, and today. We will begin the seminar with an examination of law in traditional Chinese society, which constituted perhaps the world's most influential alternative to the Western legal tradition. We then look briefly at past efforts to "modernize" Chinese law, during the Republican period before 1949, and during the influence of Soviet law after 1949. The remainder of the semester will be spent on China's current efforts to establish a legal system, focusing on topics such as constitutional law and human rights, intellectual property law, environmental law, or corporate law. The exact topics covered will depend upon students' interests. Students will write papers, and will present those papers to the class during the last few sessions. Grading will be on the basis of the papers and the presentations. Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of the course, students will be familiar with the legal tradition of Imperial China, which in world history has been the most influential alternative to the Roman law tradition. They will also be familiar with China’s efforts to modernize its legal system along Soviet lines, and according to Western European and American models. Finally, they will be have examined in detail several areas of contemporary Chinese law, allowing them to understand how China’s current legal reform efforts are affected by the political and economic development context in which the law functions.