How would a sound ‘China Strategy’ look? Should we do business with China, or reflect instead upon its historical relationship with human rights? Is the priority of China’s President Xi Jinping to strengthen his power and position within the government, or to create and administer law? Is China’s judiciary system ineffectual , or does it sufficiently protect individual rights?
Questions such as these have become increasingly concerning to major decision-makers and opinion leaders across Europe and beyond. The answers to these questions often fall short. The predominance of stereotypes and misunderstandings are all too common, suggesting a general deficit of knowledge about China. As Chief of the British Defence Staff , General Sir Nick Carter recently claimed: “China is not a threat but a challenge. If we as a middle-sized country want to continue to prosper, we will have to learn about it and try to understand it.”
This course, which is unique in the Dutch higher-educational sector, will offer students a comprehensive breakdown of contemporary China. The course will be both objective and impartial. It will include opposing theories and important cases for conceptualising what has made China what it is today. The main aim of the course is to provide you with the fundamental knowledge that will allow you to make sense of how those in power govern China. You will also develop a keen understanding of how the country’s legal system operates.
The leading lecturers, Dr. Cong-rui Qiao and Prof. Tom Zwart, have considerable experience between them in the areas of law, governance, and human rights in China. Over the years, they have made connections with key decision-makers in China, including a few associated with the Communist Party and the State Council (i.e. China’s Central Government), as well as with some of China’s best attorneys and highly regarded human rights institutes. They have also been asked to advise by the Supreme People’s Court (i.e. China’s highest court) on how to improve the justice system in the country.
We will address the following questions during the course:
a. How does the government and the legal system work in China?
b. How are human rights protected in China?
c. How are government powers regulated in China?
During the course, the main focus will be on the contemporary period from the early 1980s to today, when China’s boldest legal and governing reforms were first initiated and implemented. We will examine and explain the essence of these reforms and then assess their effect. The course will be separated into 3 parts, in which the student will:
Part one - Become familiar with sources pertaining to Chinese law and the evolution of China’s contemporary legal and governance systems after the cultural-revolution decade.
Part two - Gain an understanding on China’s involvement in the international human rights system, and China’s domestic implementations of its own human rights obligations.
Part three - Assess to what extent government and non-government figures adhere to human rights and are held accountable for their actions. The course will end with the students giving individual presentations of their work and engaging in a group debate.