Centre for Asian Legal Studies

Law and Development in China and Vietnam

by Associate Professor Wang Jiangyu and Dr Bui Ngoc Son

Asia is home to socialism. Four of the five socialist nations (Cuba, Chin, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam) in the contemporary world are located in Asia. Among the socialist states, China and Vietnam appear to be different from others in the sense that these two countries have experienced dramatic social, economic, legal and political transformation during the last three decades. What's the role of law in the transformation of China and Vietnam?

This research project aims to bring a group of internationally distinguished scholars to examine the underlying forces in the bidirectional relationship between law and economic and political developments in China and Vietnam. In particular, they will assess (1) the similarities and differences in law and development in China and Vietnam; (2) law and development path in China and Vietnam as compared with other models of developmental state; (3) law and development path in China and Vietnam seen from the liberal model of rule of law. The second goal of the research is to explore the future prospects of the legal system of China and Vietnam in light of changing circumstances of political, economic and legal development.

The proposed research will be first of its kind in interpreting the legal development in China and Vietnam from the combined perspectives of state-building and developmental state. It ais to explore the theory of Asian socialist developmental state, which can help enrich scholarship in the areas of law and development, and state-building.

The research hypothesis is that China and Vietnam have practiced a rather similar path of law and development, which can be called Asian socialist developmental state, a part of the state-building process in these countries. This model may be different from the East Asian model of developmental state practiced in post-war Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and from the developmental state model of Singapore and Malaysia. Of course, it is also different from western model of liberal rule of law. The distinctive features of the Asian socialist developmental state presumptively include:

» The active intervention of the party-state in the market, not merely to limit the failure of the market (as the third movement of law and development assumes) but to guarantee the grand socialist objectives.
» The determined role of socialist ideology defined by Marxism-Leninism and local political elite in legal reform and economic reform.
» Politically dependent state bureaucracy.
» The politics of the judiciary.
» The effective management of non-state economic interests.
» Domestic political logics behind international law.

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