In his book, Ludwig Hetzel outlines the historical and philosophical background of China’s legal system. Combining native training in Western legal science with studies in China on Chinese legal science, Hetzel helps Western readers grasp the essence of Chinese law.
Using clear and simple language, Hetzel introduces even the non-experts to an otherwise complicated subject. He encapsulates his thesis with a critical comparison: in the West, law is of divine provenance, like the Ten Commandments of the Christian God; in China, law is mundane tool utilized to maintain good order in a vast and populous empire.
Of contemporary Chinese law, Hetzel highlights China’s continuing effort to harmonize her law with Western concepts, made necessary by the demands of globalization and China’s trajectory and ambition as a major, if not potentially dominant, world power. One of the example Hetzel cites is the passage of the Chinese Foreign Trade Law and China’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
Hetzel not only looks back at the past, he peers into the future as well. He suggests that in the evolution of Chinese law, its historical and philosophical foundations will remain not only relevant but significant. In the revival of Confucianism in China, for instance, Hetzel points out that this might hinder the development of rule of law in accordance with Western patterns.
On top of Hetzel’s detailed narrations and perceptive insights, thoughtfully annexed to his book are translated texts of select Chinese statutes, not always easy to find, that provide concrete illustration of China’s modern approach to law. Altogether, Hetzel’s work is a valuable aid to understanding Chinese legal thought.
Univ. Prof. Dr. Gerd Kaminski, Boltzmann Institut für China- und Südostasienforschung
Ludwig Hetzel, Chinese Legal History and Philosophy, Fajus 2013, ISBN: 978-3-906107-03-5, Hardcover, 111 pages, € 57,30 / CHF 74,50
Available at your bookshop or in the Fajus-Webshop.