Taisu Zhang is a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has published one book on the comparative history of Chinese and English property institutions (The Laws and Economics of Confucianism: Kinship and Property in Pre-Industrial China and England), and is writing another on the late imperial Chinese fiscal state. He has also written a large number of articles, essays, and book chapters, in both academic and media venues, on topics in legal theory and contemporary Chinese law and politics. Zhang is a Global Faculty member at Peking University Law School and holds a secondary appointment at Yale as Professor of History. Previously, he has taught at the Duke University School of Law, the University of Hong Kong, Brown University, and the Tsinghua University School of Law.

Last Updated: January 30, 2020

Conversation

07.21.20

Is There a Future for Values-Based Engagement with China?

Neysun A. Mahboubi, Mary Gallagher & more
A key feature of current debates over U.S.-China relations is the proposition that “engagement failed,” in light of the Chinese government’s increasingly aggressive posture towards liberal values at home and on the world stage. Already on the...

Conversation

03.19.20

As Its Coronavirus Outbreak Abates, China Is Trying out a New Look. Is It Working?

Daniel R. Russel, Pamela Kyle Crossley & more
As the coronavirus spreads globally, China’s government is working aggressively to change its international image. In the span of just a few weeks, China has gone from the embattled epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic to presenting the country as...

Viewpoint

01.29.20

How Much Could a New Virus Damage Beijing’s Legitimacy?

Taisu Zhang
A month into the coronavirus epidemic that has swept across China, the details of the Chinese government’s political and administrative response remain highly ambiguous. What has been unmistakable, however, is the volume and intensity of social...

Viewpoint

05.08.19

This Year, I Couldn’t Avoid May Fourth

Taisu Zhang
The one hundredth anniversary of the 1919 May Fourth Movement came and went last week much as one would have expected...For some, myself included, the anniversary evoked a set of more complicated emotions. For years, these complications have pushed...

Conversation

03.28.19

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China?

Donald Clarke, David Yeliang Xia & more
This week, Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who in recent months has penned a series of essays critical of policies of the Chinese Communist Party and of its leader, Xi Jinping, was banned from teaching, relieved of his...

Conversation

10.12.18

Is America Overreacting to the Threat of Chinese Influence?

Isaac Stone Fish, Taisu Zhang & more
American civil and political discourse has seen a growing number of reports about worrying Chinese governmental influence in the United States. Most recently, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence decried the “malign influence” of China in the United...

Viewpoint

03.01.18

Maybe the Law Does Actually Matter to Xi Jinping

Taisu Zhang
The February 25 announcement that the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would remove term limits on the office of the presidency is arguably the most significant Chinese political and legal development in...

Conversation

02.25.18

Xi Won’t Go

Richard McGregor, Taisu Zhang & more
In a surprise Sunday move, Beijing announced that the Communist Party leadership wants to abolish the two-term limit for China’s president and vice president, potentially paving the way for China’s 64-year-old President Xi Jinping to stay in power...

Books

02.23.18

The Laws and Economics of Confucianism

Taisu Zhang
Cambridge University Press: Tying together cultural history, legal history, and institutional economics, The Laws and Economics of Confucianism: Kinship and Property in Pre-Industrial China and England offers a novel argument as to why Chinese and English pre-industrial economic development went down different paths. The dominance of Neo-Confucian social hierarchies in Late Imperial and Republican China, under which advanced age and generational seniority were the primary determinants of sociopolitical status, allowed many poor but senior individuals to possess status and political authority highly disproportionate to their wealth. In comparison, landed wealth was a fairly strict prerequisite for high status and authority in the far more “individualist” society of early modern England, essentially excluding low-income individuals from secular positions of prestige and leadership. Zhang argues that this social difference had major consequences for property institutions and agricultural production.{chop}Related Reading:“Confucian Economics: The World at Work,” Kazimierz Z. Poznanski, World Review of Political Economy, Summer 2015“What was the Great Divergence?,” C.W., The Economist, September 2, 2013The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz, Princeton, 2001Civil Law in Qing and Republican China (Law, Society, and Culture in China), Kathryn Bernhardt and Philip Huang, Stanford, 1994Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes, Robert Ellickson, Harvard, 1991

Conversation

11.30.17

The Beijing Migrants Crackdown

Jeremiah Jenne, Lucy Hornby & more
After a fire in a Beijing apartment building catering to migrant workers killed at least 19 people on November 18, the city government launched a 40-day campaign to demolish the capital’s “unsafe” buildings. Many Beijing residents view the campaign...

Conversation

10.16.17

What to Watch at China’s Party Congress

Ho-fung Hung, Taisu Zhang & more
The Chinese Communist Party’s 19th Party Congress, a hugely important political meeting usually held once every five years, will begin on October 18 in Beijing. Like many events involving China’s ruling party, the most important decisions and...

Conversation

06.23.17

How Big a Deal Are Guo Wengui’s Allegations?

Pamela Kyle Crossley, Taisu Zhang & more
In a months-long barrage of mudslinging via Twitter and theatrical online videos, Chinese real estate billionaire Guo Wengui has alleged corruption at the highest levels in the Chinese Communist Party—some of which appear to be accurate, some as yet...