A Dialogue Between Law and History – STL Hosts an International Conference on Facts and Evidence

On November 16-17, 2019, Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) successfully held the Second “International Conference on Facts and Evidence — A Dialogue between Law and History.” The conference was co-sponsored by the “2011 Plan” – the Collaboration Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization, STL, and the Institute of Evidence Law and Forensic Science of China University of Political Science and Law (Key Laboratory of Evidence Science, Ministry of Education). The conference built on the success of the workshop held at STL on September 14-15 . Under the same theme, that workshop brought together more than 20 distinguished jurists and historians from around the world to explore issues relating to fact-finding in the judicial process and historical research.


STL Dean Philip McConnaughay, China University of Political Science and Law Professor Zhang Baosheng and STL Professor Thomas Y. Man all delivered opening remarks expressing their warm welcome to all the participants and confirming the significance of the conference’s theme.

The conference consisted of six sessions. The first session explored major themes in law and history and was moderated by Q. Edward Wang, Professor of Rowan University. Professor Ronald J. Allen from Northwestern University commenced by reflecting on fact-finding in history, science and law, emphasizing points of difference and commonalities. Subsequently, Zhang Baosheng, Professor of China University of Political Science and Law made a comparison between fact-finding methodologies in evidence law and history. He emphasized that in evidence law evidential reasoning establishes a relationship between factual premises and judgment conclusions, and gave a detailed illustration of “the Inference of Best Explanation.” In response to that, Zhang Xupeng, Professor of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences discussed the use of evidence by historians. He thought that historians should explore the cultural meaning behind evidence. He also discussed how to use evidence typically not perceived as such to reconstruct the past.

STL Professor Francis Snyder moderated the second session “Facts and Proof: Concepts and Application.” Professor Clinton W. Francis from Northwestern University began by introducing the paradoxes and inefficiencies in modern judicial proof. He then explained the Semiotic Cycle and History of Language Development models in detail. He proposed that the paradox can be solved by increasing meta-communication. Professor Shu Guoying from China University of Political Science and Law analyzed three core concepts in law and history: facts, evidence and proof. He pointed out that “fact” belongs to the field of epistemology and needs to be proven by cognition. Finally, Aviezer Tucker, Associate Researcher of Davis Center for Russian & Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, discussed the generation of probable facts from testimonies in jurisprudence and historiography. He emphasized that multiple testimonies can generate more probable knowledge than each one and innovatively created a three-stage modular inference method.

The third session focused on “Evidence and Facts: Perspective from History” and was moderated by Zhao Lei, Professor of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Rowan University Professor Q. Edward Wang explored the use of oral testimonies through a case study of “comfort women.” Traditional view downplayed comfort women’s oral testimonies, but critiques from feminist scholars led by Chizuko Ueno urged both historians and jurists to reconsider the meaning of “facts.” University of Udine Professor Edoardo Tortarolo explored what “historical fact” is. He concluded that the notion of historical fact is itself a historical entity. He argued that historical and legal studies pursue different pragmatic and epistemic agendas. Legal facts have a direct performative consequence while historical facts only have indirect performative consequence. Tsinghua University Professor Zhong Weimin illustrated the subjectivity of historical study through distinct comments from historians towards Qishan. He also pointed out that subjectivity is inevitable in law. Bielefeld University Professor Zoltan Simon drew a distinction between judging the past and blaming the past and analyzed the risks of opting for the imprescriptible and toning down the sense of morality.

Under the theme of “Evidence and Facts: Prospective from Law”, the fourth session was moderated by STL Professor Mark Feldman. The session began with Professor David L. Faigman from University of California Hastings College of Law delivering his speech on fact-finding in constitutional decision-making. He distinguished between different kinds of facts concluding that constitutional doctrinal facts are part of law-making and should not be allowed to be considered by lower courts in subsequent cases, while constitutional reviewable facts and adjudicative facts apply uniquely to a particular litigation. Professor Raymond L. Solomon from Rutgers University analyzed the Elaine Massacre in America. Different narratives adopted by lawyers and reporters reflected the differences in treating evidence between law and history. Peking University Doctor Wang Ruijian, on behalf of Professor Chen Ruihua, discussed how to verify facts in criminal cases in China. He proposed an appropriate “grafting” between the subjective standard of “reasonable doubt” and the objective standard of “insufficient evidence.” Finally, Professor Stephan Landsman from DePaul University took the development in England’s Old Bailey Criminal Court during the eighteenth century to illustrate the development of adversarialism in England. He also analyzed the benefits as well as risks of the new adversarialism.

The fifth session focused on “Case Studies in History and Law” and was moderated by STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas. The session began with Assistant Professor Berber Bevernage from Ghent University delivering his speech on The Adjudication of ‘Historic Injustice’ in Case Concerning the Former British Empire(2000-present). He pointed out despite some remarkable successes most of the colonial historic justice cases brought before UK courts remain unsuccessful and most British judges remain highly skeptical about cases venturing into historic justice. Professor Chen Jingliang from South Central University of Finance and Law delivered his speech which focused on Factual Cognition and Legal Reasoning in the Judicature of the Song Dynasty from the perspective of knowledge. Nanjing Audit University Doctor Chen Suhao discussed Plea Bargaining at the ICTY, rethinking its role in the process of fact finding at the ICTY. Tianjin Normal University Associate Professor Feng Jinpeng discussed the presumption of Guilt in the Trial of Socrates. He adopted a historical method and analyzed the particularities of Scoratic presumption of guilt.

Under the theme of “Seeking Truth in Law and History” the sixth session was conducted by Associate Professor Lin Jing from China University of Political Science and Law. Bard Graduate Center Professor Peter N. Miller focused on Objects as Facts. He cited various literature from China and foreign countries to present his research that objects are a particular kind of fact. STL Professor Thomas Y. Man’s speech was about Truth in History and in Law: Factfinding in Cross-disciplinary Context. He focused on the historical figure of Aaron Burr and proceeded to elaborate on factfinding in the court of history and of law. Professor Zhang Luping from China University of Political Science and Law focused on Chasing truth from the perspective of history, analyzing the effect of the textual development process on the narration of case facts before it is finally ascertained in trial.

In the closing ceremony, Moderator Zhang Baosheng invited three honored guests to deliver the closing remarks. Professor Ronald J. Allen from Northwestern University expressed his gratefulness to the committee which organized this international conference. Rowan University Professor Q. Edward Wang summarized the achievements of this two-day conference. STL Professor Thomas Y. Man expressed his thankfulness to all the people who have contributed to the successfulness of holding this international conference and his expectation to holding similarly meaningful conferences in the future.




Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont Geoffrey W. Crawford Visits STL

In October 2019, Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford was invited to deliver a lecture and hold a discussion at STL. Judge Crawford used to be a partner at O’Neil, Crawford & Green law firm. In 2014, he was nominated by President Obama as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. He has a close relationship with STL.

On October 10th, Judge Crawford delivered the lecture on Marbury v. Madison and the Judicial Review. The lecture was moderated by Dean Philip McConnaughay and was attended by STL students and faculty.

Judge Crawford launched the lecture by providing the historical context of Marbury v. Madison—the fourth presidential election in America. President John Adams appointed nearly 60 “midnight judges” on the last day of his presidency. However, James Madison, the Secretary of State refused to deliver the commission letters for many of these judges, without which the appointment would not have officially been concluded. Marbury was one of the appointed judges who never received their official commission. Consequently, Marbury sued Madison before the Supreme Court of the United States by filing a writ of Mandamus to compel the delivery of his commission.

Judge Crawford then discussed how Judge John Marshall approached this case wisely. Judge Marshall first affirmed that Marbury was indeed entitled to the commission, that the Secretary of State’s conduct can be sued, and that Mandamus would be the correct remedy. However, he dismissed Marbury’s claim on the ground that the Constitution did not authorize original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of the United States in issuing Mandamus. The Judiciary Act of 1789, which authorized the original jurisdiction, was unconstitutional. With that, Marshall’s holding established the US Supreme Court’s power of judicial review.

By way of comparison, Judge Crawford then analyzed the judicial review system in China and the UK. In China, the court does not have the power of judicial review. Instead, power to correct governmental action that violates the constitutional norms is vested to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. In the UK, under the principle of “Parliamentary Sovereignty,” the courts have authority to determine whether an administrative act is against parliament, but they generally do not have the power to strike down a legislation directly. As an example to demonstrate the scope of the courts’ jurisdiction, Judge Crawford discussed the recent R (Miller) v. Prime Minister case, where the UK Supreme Court struck down the Prime Minister’s prorogation of Parliament. Finally, Judge Crawfordrevisited the issue of judicial review in the US by sharing his own experience as a judge engaging in judicial review.

The lecture concluded with a Q & A session where Judge Crawford gave patient and detailed answers to the questions posed from the students and faculty. The questions ranged from the personal to the professional. On one end, for example, when asked about how to determine whether a law is good or bad, Judge Crawford said that he would adopt an economic analysis. On the other end, when asked about his transition from an appellate court judge to a trial court judge, he said that his personality contributed to the transition because the trial court was more fun.

The students and faculty were impressed by Judge Crawford’s excellent, informative and humorous lecture. Chen Xin, a 1L student, said, “I’m grateful for the first-hand experiences Judge Crawford showed us. His explanation of different ways of legal interpretation is also illuminating.” Guo Qianru, a 2L student, expressed her feelings after joining in the discussion, “Judge Crawford and Professor Campbell shared with us their very interesting work experience and touching life stories. Judge Crawford said that personality matters when choosing a future job.”

All in all, the lecture was deemed to be a memorable one that left a deep impression on students.

Professor Francis Snyder Recognized with 2018 China Friendship Award

Francis Snyder, C.V.Starr Professor of Law at Peking University School of Transnational Law, was awarded 2018 the People’s Republic of China Friendship Award, the highest honor for “foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress.”  The award was announced by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) and presented by Vice Prime Minister Liu He at the Great Hall of the People on September 29.  Premier Li Keqiang met with the Recipients on September 30.



Speaking after the awarding ceremony, Professor Snyder said, “I am deeply honored and really delighted to receive this Award.  It has been my great pleasure to contribute to China for more than 20 years.  I express my profound thanks to SAFEA, Peking University, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, and STL for their constant support.”

STL Dean Philip McConnaughay noted on behalf of the entire STL community that, “Francis Snyder’s scholarly contributions to China-EU trade relations and to the development of food safety law and protocols in China have had enormous beneficial impact over the years.  We are very fortunate and very proud to have Professor Snyder as an esteemed member of our academic community.”

FrancisProfessor Snyder is a scholar of European Union Law, WTO and international economic law, EU-China relations, technical standards, anti-dumping and food safety law.  He has served as the Co-Director of the Academy of European Law, Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Guest Professor at Peking University Law School and Tsinghua Law School.

Professor Snyder has been actively engaging in China-EU relations and China food safety reform.  Among recent professional appointments, He was invited to serve as the leading foreign expert to China’s Central Government for reform of the food safety system in China and contributed to reform the 2009 Food Safety Law.  His additional awards and achievements include the honor of Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by French Republic and being listed in Marquis Who’s who in the World and in International Authors and Writers Who’s who.

It is not the first time that STL community to be granted with the esteemed Award.  STL’s Founding Dean Jeffrey Lehman received the honor in 2011.

STL Hosts International Workshop on Soft Law

On November 13, Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) hosted an international workshop on soft law: The Use of Soft Law by National Courts and Public Authorities: An EU-China Comparison. The workshop was jointly organized by STL and China-EU School of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law. It brought together leading scholars, from China and abroad, to study the opportunities and challenges of soft law, and explore the application and innovation of soft law in the fields of finance, economics, environmental policy and public safety. The workshop was moderated by STL’s faculty while speakers included professors from University of Helsinki, University of Milano, Aix-Marseille University, Maastricht Univerisity, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and University of Macao.


STL Dean Philip McConnaughay, Maastricht University Professor Mariolina Eliantonio, and STL Professors, JIN Zining and Francis Snyder, first delivered welcoming remarks expressing their gratitude to all the participants and introducing the workshop program.

The workshop was divided into four sessions on the following themes: “Opportunities and Challenges of Soft Law,” “Use of Soft Law by Public Authorities in the Financial and Economic Fields,” “Use of Soft Law by Public Authorities in the Protection of Values Related to Environment and Public Health,” and “Soft Law and Standards for Legal Innovation.”

The first session was chaired by STL Assistant Professor MAO Shaowei. Emilia Korkea-Aho,  Associate Professor at University of Helsinki and a visiting scholar at Yale University, first raised the question: “How to study soft law” and proposed three dichotomies to help answer that question: “doctrinal research” and “socio-legal research”, “qualitative research” and “quantitative research”, “historical research” and “comparative research.” Then she switched the question from “how to study soft law” to “why to study soft law”. Professor BI Honghai from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics gave an overview of soft law in China and put forward the question of “why soft law can be called ‘law’.” STL Professor HUANG Hui discussed the guiding cases as soft law in Chinese judicial practice, while STL Professor JIN Zining took environmental lawsuits as examples and explored the administrative “Opinion Letter” as soft law in PRC’s Courts. In the Q&A session, the students present actively proposed their own thoughts on the issues raised to the scholars.

STL Professor Douglas Levene chaired the second session. STL Professor Sang Yop Kang, cited the Korean National Pension Service (NPS) as an example illustrating how shareholder activism functions as soft law. From the perspective of comparative law, Nathalie Rubio, a scholar at Aix-Marseille University, explored the use of EU soft law by Member States in the fields of EU competition and State Aids Law. STL Professor Duncan Alford, used the operation of Supervisory Colleges in EU banking supervision as a case study of how “soft law” became “hard law”. Jacopo Alberti, Professor from University of Milano, introduced the soft law of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and explored the reception of EU financial soft law in Italy and other EU Member States.

The third session was chaired by STL Professor Thomas Yunlong Man. Professor Eliantonio explored the EU environmental soft law and its effects at the national level from a comparative perspective. STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas conducted an analysis of the current situation and explored the role of soft law in making finance environmentally sustainable in the EU and China. STL Assistant Professor CAO Fei discussed soft Law and the medical duty of care from the perspective of Chinese practitioners. Du Li, Assistant Professor at University of Macao, introduced the development of genetic technology and genetic research in China, and analyzed the role of soft law in promoting responsible and sustainable research and clinical practice.

The fourth session was chaired by STL Assistant Professor Joy Xiang. The author of Supreme People’s Court Monitor, STL Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Susan Finder, presented her observations and comments on China’s evolving soft case law system. STL Professor Mark Feldman, explored the development of soft law in a transnational context by tackling the G20 principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment and the Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road. Rostam Neuwirth, Professor at University of Macau, also a visiting professor at STL, referred to the BRICS International Rule of Law Forum and analyzed the soft law nature of the treaties, as well as other materials produced by the BRICS Summit Meetings.

Maastricht Univerisity Professor Mariolina Eliantonio, and STL Professor Francis Snyder, delivered the closing speech. Professor Eliantonio summarized the content of the workshop and expressed her expectations for the development of soft law research while Professor Snyder concluded by once again thanking all participants. He hoped that the seminar would serve as an inspiring and rewarding experience that would allow the participants as well as the audience to productively engage the ever-growing field of soft law.


Delegation of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges from MOE Visits STL

On October 31, 2019, a delegation of high-profile government officials visited STL.  The delegation included Liu Jin – the Director of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges from the Ministry of Education (MOE), Yan Bingcan – the Senior Inspector of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges from MOE, Wang YI – the Senior investigator of Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges from MOE, and Xu Jianling – the Vice Minister of Shenzhen Education Bureau.  The delegation was welcomed by leaders from PKU Shenzhen including Tan Wenchang – the Party Secretary and Vice Dean of PKU Shenzhen, Yang Zhen – the Vice Dean of PKU Shenzhen, Zeng Hui – the Vice Dean of PKU Shenzhen, and Ren Ting – the Vice Party Secretary of PKU Shenzhen.  It was also welcomed by distinguished members of the STL community, including Professor Thomas Man – the Associate Dean of Development at STL, Keru Chen – the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Administration at STL, and Cole Agar – the Director of International Program at STL.

1During the visit, Professor Man discussed STL from three main angles: student enrollment, faculty and curriculums.  He emphasized that STL is the only law school in the world that combines an American-style Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) with a China law Juris Master degree (J.M.).  Moreover, he eloquently summarized STL’s mission as contributing to a Chinese legal profession that is equipped to serve an advanced economy based on technological innovation, financial services and internationalization.  The International Program Director, Cole Agar, introduced the admissions and study program for international students.  Director Liu Jin concluded that it is important to further foster the advantages of the existent educational program as well as proceed in extending the reach of international cooperation and partnership in education.


STL Holds 2019 Intramural Moot Court

STL students were provided with the opportunity to test their advocacy skills, legal research, and legal writing skills through the 2019 STL Intramural Moot Court Competition on December 1. STL students were invited to join the competition by submitting a written argument on behalf of one side in a fictional U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the liability of a corporation that offers paid services for creating “deepfakes,” then argued in preliminary, quarter-final and semi-final rounds to determine which four participants would qualify for the final round.


This is the second Intramural Moot Court Competition organized by STL’s Moot Court Board, a group of upper-level students who previously represented STL in moot court competitions.

Four STL 2L students, Li Yumo, Xie Zihan, Xu Yanhua and Zhang Tiying advanced to the finals. Each finalist presented their arguments before a panel of three judges: Frank Li, Partner at FangDa, Teng Haidi, Partner at King & Wood Mallesons, and Zhang Haomiao, an STL alumna and Senior Associate at King & Wood Mallesons. The judges were impressed by all four finalists. Zhang Tiying received the prize for Best Oralist from the judges. Xie Zihan received the prize for Best Memorandum representing appellant from the Moot court Board. Wu Ruoxin and Xie Yan received the prize for Best Memorandum representing appellee from the Moot Court Board.

Students who have been selected through Intramural Moot Court will have the opportunity to apply to STL’s Moot Court Program, which sends teams to several national and international moot court competitions each year, including the Willem C. Vis International Arbitration Competition, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot, the Stetson International Environmental Law Moot, the Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot.


STL Student Won the Championship of PKU 16th “Top Ten Speech Contest”

On November 29th 2019, the 16th “Top Ten Speech” Peking University finals were held in Beijing. Since this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the theme of this competition was “My country, My people”. It was co-organized by the Communist Youth League Peking University Committee and the Peking University Graduate Union. STL 1L student Wang Chenyu stood out in the competition and won the championship after three rounds of speeches. This is the very first time that a student from STL had won this championship.

北京大学第十六届学生“演讲十佳”比赛 比赛中

In the competition, all participants shared their own professional views and stories about their motherland, China. There were three speech categories for evaluating the contestants. First, they delivered speeches based on given topics, then came the challenge of impromptu speeches, and lastly, the battle for the top three. Wang Chenyu successfully won with his excellent on-stage responses and superb speech skills, which led him to the final championship.

北京大学第十六届学生“演讲十佳”比赛 比赛中3

Apart from this competition, Wang Chenyu had previously formed debate teams and achieved very impressive results in numerous debate competitions, including winning the championship in the 5th “Thinking Star” Shenzhen University Students Speculation Contest and the 7th Shenzhen University Youth Student Debate Competition.

After the competition, Wang Chenyu said, “Debate and public speaking have always been where my passion lies. I want to express my appreciation to PKUSZ and STL for continuing to provide us with opportunities to develop our interests, and I want to thank my teammates, teachers, friends, mom and dad and everyone who has supported and helped me.”

Rethinking the Development of China’s Evidence Law

On November 18th, Professor Zhang Baosheng delivered a lecture titled “Rethinking the Development of China’s Evidence Law” at STL. STL Professor Thomas Man moderated the lecture. Many students and law professionals actively participated in this event.

Zhang Baosheng is a Professor of Law, Ph.D. Supervisor, and former vice President of China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). He also serves as the Honorary Dean of the Institute of Evidence Science of Director of CUPL, the Director of Key Laboratory of Evidence Science of Ministry of Education of China and the Co-chair of the PRC national government’s “2011 Plan” – Cooperative Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization. He is the Executive Director of China Association for Trial Theory Research, Vice President of International Association of Evidence Science. His published books include The Theory and Methods of Legal Reasoning, Evidence Law, Report on the Development of Evidence and the Rule of Law in China, Report on China Justice Index, published articles included “Criminal Misjudged Cases and the Analysis on the Evidence of its Correcting Mechanism” and “The ‘Mirror of Evidence’ and the Plausibility of Judicial Proof”.


Professor Man began by briefly introducing Professor Zhang noting the importance of his contributions in promoting evidence law research and education and judicial justice in China. Professor Man pointed out that the value of law lies in practice, and that facts are the starting point and the foundation of legal practice. Therefore, evidence law is of great significance to the development of law and judicial proceedings.


Professor Zhang’s lecture focused on four aspects: the development of China’s evidence law, the main problems of China’s evidence system, the nature of fact finding, and the construction of China’s evidence law theory system. Professor Zhang believes that the development of China’s evidence law has gone through three stages: the beginning period (1978-1995), the formation period (1996-2000), and rapid development period (2001-2018). In 1978, evidence was incorporated in Criminal Procedure Law for the first time, establishing the “fact-based, law-based” principle. Today, the Supreme People’s Court has adopted four evidence rules on civil, administrative, death penalty, and illegal evidence exclusion cases. The legal system of evidence in China is shifting from rough to perfect.

The 2018 Criminal Procedure Law has made several major advances in the evidence system. It has modified the types of evidence, clarified the principle that the one who makes the claim has to bear the burden of proof, and partially established the principle against self-incrimination. Additionally, the standard of proof requires that cross-examination is a precondition for witness testimony to be adopted by the court. However, there are still many problems. For example, the principle against self-incrimination in Article 52 is only partially established, and imposes no prohibition on self-proving innocence, which means that the suspect’s privilege of silence is not recognized. Another problem is that standards of proof at different stages of criminal procedure (conclusion of investigation, prosecution, and conviction) are basically the same – beyond reasonable doubt. This standard is too high for investigation and prosecution, which may reduce the trial to a formality. In the United States, the proof for conclusion of the investigation has to establish a possibility about 40%, and the standard for prosecution is governed by the rule of preponderance of evidence, which is more than 50%. Moreover, there are also problems with cross-examination. Article 61 stipulates that witness testimony must be examined in court before being adopted. However, Article 195 allows for the reading of the testimony of witnesses who have not appeared in court, which is against the idea of legal adversarialism.

In summarizing the problems that have existed in China’s evidentiary system, Professor Zhang said that China has various types of evidence rules, amounting to 455 provisions. Nevertheless, we are still far from establishing a systematic and well-run evidence system. At present, one of the problems is the lack of logic. Relevancy is the fundamental character of evidence and the fundamental principle of modern evidentiary rules. Its central position has not been fully established in the Chinese system. The United States Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 401 requires both tendency and materiality of evidence and Rule 702 provides that the expert testimony should first meet the requirement of relevancy, then reliability. However, the evidence system in China does not entirely follow this logic. Many provisions of statutes and judicial interpretations value reliability more than relevance. In addition, China’s evidentiary system is not right-based and the transformation process to the modern evidence system has not been completed. For example, Criminal Procedure Law does not recognize the suspect’s privilege of silence. The second problem is the repetition of content. According to statistics, the repetition rate of evidetiarye rules in the three major procedural laws is as high as 37.2%. The third problem is logical confusion. There are many conflicting rules in the same statute. The fourth problem is that of content error. For example, the “correction” of illegal evidence in Article 56 of the Criminal Procedure Law goes against best practices in evidentiary rule.


Then, Professor Zhang introduced the nature of fact finding based on the theory of “mirror of evidence”. The fact finding in legal practice is the process of deriving the “factual truth” that happened in the past from the evidence. The evidence is a mirror reflecting the facts, and the “factual truth” is actually the product of thought. The “mirror of evidence” doctrine explains that what the fact-finder could find is only a plausible account of the truth. However, many judicial theories in China pursue absolute certainty in judicial proof, which is impractical and misleading.

Next, Professor Zhang explained his ideal evidence law system in China. First of all, Professor Zhang tries to unify China’s three major evidence systems (criminal, civil, and administrative) with generality and flexibility. Secondly, the evidence law system should be guided by the evidence law theory, with a logical map of different stages of procedures, pursuing the value of accuracy, fairness, harmony and efficiency.


In the open-question session, when asked about how China can learn from the US evidence law system under different backgrounds and judicial systems, Professor Zhang believed that, although there are many differences in the judicial system between the two countries, fact finding is a universal process with many cross-system commonalities. In addition, China’s incorporation of adversarialism requires it to improve its evidentiary system. It should learn from the advanced experience of the United States. When asked about the merits of confession rules in Chinese criminal procedures and plea bargaining in the United States, Professor Zhang believed that both systems are set up as such for efficiency considerations, and the practice must follow the rules of evidence to protect the defendant’s basic rights, and to insure procedural justice and fairness. Professor Man added that the fairness and reasonableness of these systems depend on how they run. For example, plea bargaining in the United States is conducted after discovery. The parties reach a decision after full disclosure of evidence, which can prevent certain injustices.

The lecture concluded successfully with students expressing their gratitude for Professor Zhang’s insights.

STL Celebrating its 10th Anniversary

On April 13, STL community celebrated its 10th anniversary with an alumni weekend. To mark this milestone, STL has launched a months-long series of lectures and forums that culminated in this alumni conference. During the event, STL graduates, students and faculty heard from STL’s founding members along with many esteemed members of China’s legal community.

In his welcoming remarks, incumbent Dean McConnaughay recalled a conversation he had with STL’s founding Dean, Jeffrey Lehman where Dean Lehman had insisted that no law school in the world was going to have greater impact than STL, not just on the development of the legal profession in China, but on the legal profession and, even more, on legal education worldwide. Dean McConnaughay reflected on how, at the time, those words were an inspiring vision. But today, as STL’s impact continues to grow, they are an inspiring reality.

现任院长Philip McConnaughay致辞

The incumbent Dean of Peking University HSBC Business School, Hai Wen, was the the first to conceive of the idea that has become STL today. He recalled how the initial idea of creating STL as an experiment in legal education back in 2008 has confronted many doubts. Now law faculties in China, Europe, the United States, Russia and elsewhere continually seek more information about STL and its innovative program. Moreover, STL graduates now hold leading positions with world-leading law firms, multinational corporations, elite government office and NGOs.


Founding Dean and current Executive Vice Chancellor of NYU’s Shanghai campus, Jeffery Lehman focused on the significance of the rule of law in a country and in human beings affirming that the success that STL has achieved was a result of a combination of innovation, boldness and dedication. He believed that STL would continue to carry out its missions and make greater progress in the next decade.

创院院长Jeffrey Lehman致辞

Vice Dean Emeritus Stephen Yandle added that STL is not only a dream, but also a dream that has come true while STL Professor Mark Feldman talked about the “STL generation”. STL reflects larger trends in legal education, which have developed alongside greater global connectivity. Just as people no longer use landlines or compact discs, a legal education that fails to look beyond one’s own borders is no longer accepted. Additionally, professor Mao described STL as “unique”: unique legal education program, unique curriculums and unique teaching methods. STL has attached great importance to education and the development of its students and as such is becoming a utopia for legal education, attracting worldwide faculties and students.

Also among the speakers was Deputy Presiding Judge of The First Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court, Zhang Yongjian. Judge Zhang expressed his great wishes to STL. He has witnessed some STL students doing internships with The First Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court and was impressed by their working performance. He believed there should be further cooperation with STL. Subsequently, STL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The First Circuit Court of The Supreme People’s Court and agreed on several major areas for cooperation, including internship, academic exchanges and research.


备忘录签署 (2)

There is no question that the impact that was envisioned a decade ago has been slowly but surely unfolding. More critically, there is no telling where the ripple effects of the creation of STL will end. As STL celebrates its 10th anniversary, all indicators seem to confirm that the creation of STL will surely go down in history as a legendary transformative moment in legal education.


Professor Susan Finder Engages in Large Scale Legal Events

Susan Finder, STL Distinguished Scholar in Residence, recently spoke at an important international conference on Chinese law , entitled “China’s Legal System at 40 Years-Towards an Autonomous Legal System?”  It was held from  October 11-13, at the Law School of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Michigan Law) over three days.  The conference has been described as a “Once-in-a-generation Conference on Chinese Law,” and included over 90 scholars from around the world.   The founders of the field of study of Chinese law in the United States, Jerome Cohen and Stanley Lubman, were specially honored.  Attendees from mainland China included Professor Wang Liming, former dean of the law school of Renmin University, Ji Weidong, former dean of the law school of Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shen Kui, of Peking University, and He Haibo, of Tsinghua University.  In addition to many scholars based in the United States, others came from Australia, England, German, as well as the Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.  Professor Finder spoke on the topic of “What the Supreme People’s Court’s Support for the Belt & Road Initiative Reveals.”  Professor Tom Ginsburg of the University of Chicago commented on Professor Finder’s paper.  One of STL graduate Liu Chengying also attended the conference.

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More recently, Professor Finder spoke on October 29 in Shanghai, at a conference co-sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and the Great Britain China Centre (GBCC).  The topic of the conference was UK-China International Commercial Arbitration Seminar.  Professor Finder spoke on the “Role of government and courts in supporting arbitration & related dispute resolution.”  Other speakers included leading Chinese government officials, scholars, and arbitration commission heads, with attendees from all over China. Those invited by GBCC included  Lord Phillips, the former president of the Supreme Court of England and Wales,  Jonathan Wood, chair of the board of trustees, of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Steven Thompson, Head of the International Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales and others.

On November 2, Professor Finder spoke at the Fourth Qianhai Legal Intelligence Forum, in Shenzhen.  The topic of the conference was International Commercial Mediation: International Experience and Chinese Practice.  The conference was sponsored by the Supreme People’s Court and China Law Society, organized by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, Shenzhen Law Society, and Shenzhen Justice Bureau.  Opening speakers included the Secretary of the Shenzhen Political-Legal Affairs Committee and President of the Shenzhen Law Society, Mrs. Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of UNCITAL, and Vice President Luo Dongchuan of the Supreme People’s Court.  Professor Finder spoke on  the “Coordination Mechanism for Diversified Dispute Resolution: the View from the Bridge.”  Philip Yang, and senior judges from Hainan, Guangdong Higher People’s Court, and the Qianhai Cooperation Zone People’s Court shared a session with her.


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Peking University School of Transnational Law

Room 410, School of Transnational Law
Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School,
University Town, Xili, Nanshan District,
Shenzhen, China 518055