In This Review

In the Name of Justice: Striving for the Rule of Law in China (The Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series)
In the Name of Justice: Striving for the Rule of Law in China (The Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series)
By Weifang He
Brookings Institution Press, 2012, 230 pp

“Constitutionalism” has emerged as the slogan of a wide range of Chinese human rights and democracy advocates, carrying the implication that the governing party should subject itself to the rule of law. One of the most eloquent proponents has been the Peking University law professor He, some of whose writings are translated in this volume, with an informative introduction by Cheng Li. The more academic essays are dry, but He shows clarity, eloquence, and humor in his university lectures, panel discussions, and postings on social media, where he opines on a wide range of topics, including freedom of the press, judicial independence, the illegitimacy of the National People’s Congress, police abuse, the death penalty, and Tibet. The government tried to silence him by assigning him to teach for several years in the remote western province of Xinjiang, but it has not put him in jail despite an intensifying crackdown on liberal critics -- perhaps because he sticks to theoretical advocacy and reasons carefully within the law. This volume shows why his ideas have wide appeal.