Professor Suli delivered the Fifth Annual Herbert L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture in Comparative Law in 2006 and this article is based on his remarks, with a foreword by Jonathan Ocko. The article is included in the inaugural volume of CICLOPs thatcollects the first six Bernstein lectures. In responding to Sending Law to the Countryside, Professor Frank Upham levied a number of criticisms against Professor Zhu Suli’s book. Of particular importance was Upham’s criticism concerning a lack of attention to the role of politics and political power in the Chinese legal system. Suli finds this criticism to be extremely important because it reflects what Suli believes to be an inherent bias against and misunderstanding of the Chinese legal system and legal culture by Western comparative legal theorists. Suli asserts that this criticism is misguided because it overlooks the vast differences between legal thought in the vein of Western ideology versus the Chinese strain of legal thought. Arguing that Upham approaches Chinese law from a bias created by an inherently Western ideology concerning law, Suli argues that the culture and governmental framework of China blurs the traditional Western lines drawn between law and politics. By illustrating the weakness of Upham’s criticism through showing the particular methods that the Chinese legal system uses to achieve the goal of social order, Suli demonstrates the need for caution when engaging in comparative legal scholarship across two vastly different cultural and legal systems.
Jonathan K. Ocko & Zhu Suli, Political Parties in China’s Judiciary, 1 Center for International & Comparative Law Occasional Papers 79-110 (2009)