Book Review: Chinese Law: Research Problems and Perspectives

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Book Review: Chinese Law: Research Problems and Perspectives, 80 Yale Law Journal 1292 (1971)

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Lipson, Leon S.
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Unless it is coordinated by stern editorial control, a collection of essays on research problems and perspectives tends to spread itself out along a spectrum. Some of the essays will exhibit methods of research rather than discuss them; some will present substantive conclusions, free of documentation with which an openly substantive paper might have had to be encumbered; some will ascend from substance and method to the high dry ground of methodology. Still others may contain little more than inventories of the tools of research. When the unifying topic is the law of a far-off land with an immense early literature and difficult literacy, there is the additional opportunity of dwelling on problems of translation and the relationship between policy and language.So it is with this collection. Of the fourteen contributions, four are mainly or partly bibliographical, devoted respectively to work published on Chinese law in China, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States or Western Europe. Three are centered on the language of individual legal terms: one on Japanese influences, one on Communist China’s criminal law, one on Chinese terms in international law. Two are devoted to problems of interviewing refugees. One, though offered as a discussion of a problem in translation, amounts to a careful case study of a substantive problem in marriage law and governmental policy. Four show us views of Chinese law from different outside “perspectives”: Chinese and United States attitudes to criminal law and to international law, attitudes of Japanese writers to Chinese law, and Soviet attitudes to Chinese law. Another considers Chinese Communist civil law against a background of certain ideas in legal and social-science theory.