1st Edition

Legal Transplantation in Early Twentieth-Century China Practicing law in Republican Beijing (1910s-1930s)

By Michael H. K. Ng Copyright 2014
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 54 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    "Practicing law" has a dual meaning in this book. It refers to both the occupational practice of law and the practicing of transplanted laws and institutions to perfect them.

    The book constitutes the first monographic work on the legal history of Republican Beijing, and provides an in-depth and comprehensive account of the practice of law in the city of Beijing during a period of social transformation. Drawing upon unprecedented research using archived records and other primary materials, it explores the problems encountered by Republican Beijing’s legal practitioners, including lawyers, policemen, judges and criminologists, in applying transplanted laws and legal institutions when they were inapplicable to, incompatible with, or inadequate for resolving everyday legal issues. These legal practitioners resolved the mismatch, the author argues, by quite sensibly assimilating certain imperial laws and customs and traditional legal practices into the daily routines of the recently imported legal institutions. Such efforts by indigenous legal practitioners were crucial in, and an integral part of, the making of legal transplantation in Republican Beijing.

    This work not only makes significant contributions to scholarship on the legal history of modern China, but also offers insights into China’s quest for modernization in its first wave of legal globalization. It is thus of great value to legal historians, comparative legal scholars, specialists in Chinese law and China studies, and lawyers and law students with an interest in Chinese legal history.

    Introduction  1. Practice of Judgment  2. Practice of Policing  3. Practice of Lawyering  4. Obstacles to the Practice of Lawyering  5. Practice of Crime Experts  Conclusion


    Michael H.K. Ng is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. He specializes in Chinese legal history, historical GIS, comparative law, and corporate and investment law. His works in Chinese legal history have appeared in the International Journal of Asian Studies (Cambridge), Journal of Comparative Law (London), Journal of Legal History Studies (Taipei, Academia Sinica), Hong Kong Law Journal and Annals of GIS, among others. He has also authored a book: Foreign Direct Investment in China – Theories and Practices (Routledge, 2013).

    Prior to joining the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Ng served in the legal and finance sectors for more than 15 years as a commercial lawyer, finance director, and chief investment officer at various corporations. After leaving the legal and business sectors, he obtained his PhD in Chinese legal history and began his career in academia.

    'This book provides a readable and clear account of the legal practices in the first three decades of the Republican era, which fills a gap in the legal history of China, and therefore much welcomed. Its archival research provides a new understanding of the period, by drawing attention to its process of assimilation of the traditional and Western legal systems.'  —Song-Chuan CHEN, Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Technological University, Singapore

    Michael Ng's important study of the legal institutions of early twentieth century Beijing makes a major contribution to our knowledge of the legal order of Republican China. At the same time, it illuminates the complex interactions between the late imperial tradition, surviving in unexpected ways, and the transplanted institutions of liberal legal modernity.’ — Teemu Ruskola, Professor of Law, Emory University, U.S.A.