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Legal Orientalism

Legal Orientalism

China, the United States, and Modern Law

Since the Cold War ended, China has become a global symbol of disregard for human rights, while the United States has positioned itself as the world’s chief exporter of the rule of law. How did lawlessness become an axiom about Chineseness rather than a fact needing to be verified empirically, and how did the United States assume the mantle of law’s universal appeal? In a series of wide-ranging inquiries, Teemu Ruskola investigates the history of “legal Orientalism,” a set of globally circulating narratives about what law is and who has it. For example, why is China said not to have a history of corporate law, as a way of explaining its “failure” to develop capitalism on its own? Ruskola shows how a European tradition of philosophical prejudices about Chinese law developed into a distinctively American ideology of empire, influential to this day.

The first Sino–U.S. treaty in 1844 authorized the extraterritorial application of American law in a putatively lawless China. A kind of legal imperialism, this practice long predated U.S. territorial colonialism after the Spanish–American War in 1898, and found its fullest expression in an American district court’s jurisdiction over the “District of China.” With urgent contemporary implications, legal Orientalism lives on in the enduring damage wrought on the U.S. Constitution by late-nineteenth-century anti-Chinese immigration laws, and in the self-Orientalizing reforms of Chinese law today. In the global politics of trade and human rights, legal Orientalism continues to shape modern subjectivities, institutions, and geopolitics in powerful and unacknowledged ways.     —Harvard University Press

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Books

04.18.16

China’s Future

David Shambaugh
China’s future arguably is the most consequential question in global affairs. Having enjoyed unprecedented levels of growth, China is at a critical juncture in the development of its economy, society, polity, national security, and international relations. The direction the nation takes at this turning point will determine whether it stalls or continues to develop and prosper.Will China be successful in implementing a new wave of transformational reforms that could last decades and make it the world’s leading superpower? Or will its leaders shy away from the drastic changes required because the regime’s power is at risk? If so, will that lead to prolonged stagnation or even regime collapse? Might China move down a more liberal or even democratic path? Or will China instead emerge as a hard, authoritarian, and aggressive superstate?In this new book, David Shambaugh argues that these potential pathways are all possibilities—but they depend on key decisions yet to be made by China’s leaders, different pressures from within Chinese society, as well as actions taken by other nations. Assessing these scenarios and their implications, he offers a thoughtful and clear study of China’s future for all those seeking to understand the country’s likely trajectory over the coming decade and beyond. —Polity Press{chop}

Books

02.23.16

The Diplomacy of Migration

Meredith Oyen
During the Cold War, both Chinese and American officials employed a wide range of migration policies and practices to pursue legitimacy, security, and prestige. They focused on allowing or restricting immigration, assigning refugee status, facilitating student exchanges, and enforcing deportations. The Diplomacy of Migration focuses on the role these practices played in the relationship between the United States and the Republic of China both before and after the move to Taiwan. Meredith Oyen identifies three patterns of migration diplomacy: migration legislation as a tool to achieve foreign policy goals, migrants as subjects of diplomacy and propaganda, and migration controls that shaped the Chinese American community.Using sources from diplomatic and governmental archives in the United States, the Republic of China on Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Kingdom, Oyen applies a truly transnational perspective. The Diplomacy of Migration combines important innovations in the field of diplomatic history with new international trends in migration history to show that even though migration issues were often considered “low stakes” or “low risk” by foreign policy professionals concerned with Cold War politics and the nuclear age, they were neither “no risk” nor unimportant to larger goals. Instead, migration diplomacy became a means of facilitating other foreign policy priorities, even when doing so came at great cost for migrants themselves. —Cornell University Press{chop}Correction: Meredith Oyen’s employer was misidentified in an earlier version of this video. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Books

12.29.15

Crouching Tiger

Peter Navarro
Will there be war with China? This book provides the most complete and accurate assessment of the probability of conflict between the United States and the rising Asian superpower. Equally important, it lays out an in-depth analysis of the possible pathways to peace. Written like a geopolitical detective story, the narrative encourages reader interaction by starting each chapter with an intriguing question that often challenges conventional wisdom.Based on interviews with more than thirty top experts, the author highlights a number of disturbing facts about China's recent military buildup and the shifting balance of power in Asia: the Chinese are deploying game-changing "carrier killer" ballistic missiles; some of America's supposed allies in Europe and Asia are selling highly lethal weapons systems to China in a perverse twist on globalization; and, on the U.S. side, debilitating cutbacks in the military budget send a message to the world that America is not serious about its "pivot to Asia."In the face of these threatening developments, the book stresses the importance of maintaining U.S. military strength and preparedness and strengthening alliances, while warning against a complacent optimism that relies on economic engagement, negotiations, and nuclear deterrence to ensure peace.Accessible to readers from all walks of life, this multidisciplinary work blends geopolitics, economics, history, international relations, military doctrine, and political science to provide a better understanding of one of the most vexing problems facing the world. —Prometheus Books{chop}