In This Review

Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China After Mao
Bird in a Cage: Legal Reform in China After Mao
By Stanley B. Lubman
Stanford University Press, 2000, 447 pp

American critics often charge that China has no rule of law. They might reconsider if they read Lubman's book, which brings together a lifetime of research and practice on Chinese law to make it a vibrant and fascinating subject. The author goes back into history to show how Europe and China took divergent approaches in managing conflicts and dispensing justice: where the West adopted formal rules and procedures, China stressed informal practices and culturally determined procedures. Even though the Mao era brought change, China remained closer to its traditions than to any Western legal order. The current reforms have renewed efforts to bring China closer to Western expectations of a legal system, but Chinese practices still remain strange and frustrating to outsiders. This wise and insightful book will be valuable not only for those interested in doing business in China but also for those seeking to understand Chinese civilization.