location:Home / Academics / Details

The 97th Mingde Legal Culture Forum: The Etiquette and Law Traditions of Chinese Civilization: The Tension of Unity and Changes between Ancient and Modern Times


  On the evening of January 1st, 2019, the 97th Mingde Legal Culture Forum was held in room 725 of Mingde Building in Renmin University of China (RUC). Professor Xie Maosong, the assistant of secretary-general of China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy and senior research, delivered a speech entitled “The Etiquette and Law Traditions of Chinese Civilization: The Tension of Unity and Changes between Ancient and Modern Times”. The lecture was presided over by Prof. Ma Xiaohong of RUC Law School. Prof. Jiang Xiaomin of China University of Political Science and Law and Prof. Tian Feilong of Beihang University also attended this lecture.
  After brief introduction about Pro. Xie, the lecture started.
  Firstly, Prof. Xie showed gratitude to the host of the lecture and briefly introduced the framework of the speech based on two dimensions. The first one was how to discuss constitution and law in the historical dimension; the second one was the etiquette and law traditions of Chinese civilization and changes between ancient and modern times. He intended to demonstrate the legitimacy of The communist party of China and current party politics. Under such framework, the professor divided the etiquette and law traditions into a larger part and a smaller part respectively. The larger etiquette required to regard “etiquette” as the counterpart of western constitutionalism and constitution in Chinese civilization, while the smaller etiquette was the process going from etiquette to law. The smaller law tradition was related to the understanding of law tradition while the larger part was about the party politics of CPC.

  Then, after looking back the etiquette and law traditions of Chinese civilization that had lasted for thousands of years, prof. Xie compared them with western constitution and law civilization. He pointed out that the cognitive difference in law between east and west was because the difference in political thinking: in china the law was variable while it was stable in western countries. During the process of comparing the constitution of France, Britain and United States, he asserted that we could find the rational and remodeling constitution could not be applied to all while true constitution should reveal the corresponding historical tradition.
  After that, prof. Xie analyzed the etiquette and law traditions of Chinese civilization from five aspects as follows: First, the “etiquette” was a sound system arrangement in ancient China and the scholar-bureaucrat bureaucracy was originated from it. Second, comparing the background of western politics and Chinese etiquette and law tradition politics, we could know that under the circumstance of “Big country and Many people” circumstance, the scholar-bureaucrat bureaucracy system must be unitary. Third, the CPC had its historical legitimacy, because its political system was the extension of ancient system and could avoid indiscipline existing in scholar-bureaucrat bureaucracy functionally. Fourth, in terms of te quality of Party regulations and constitution, they should be considered as law and they indeed was very important to Chinese party politics and to improve political and personal qualities of party members. Fifth, due to Socialist system was highly compatible with traditional Chinese Confucianism, Socialist system was necessary.
  Finally, Prof. Xie analyzed the political legal tradition. Firstly, China adopted different legislative mode from the west and the politics was the main axle, not parliament. Secondly, in terms of the quality of politics and law committee, it was the result after combining many aspects including the tradition of "father and mother officials" in China and Socialist "mass line", whose function was to coordinate every department to solve problems for citizens actually. Third, from the perspective of “the larger political law”, the political culture was the fundamental part of system, so the wisdom and decision of politicians were much more important in China than in other western countries.
  During the Q&A section, the attendees talked about their thoughts. Prof. Jiang looked back his education experience and raised several questions about the breakage of Chinese law tradition appeared since modern times based on the lecture. Prof. Xie thought it was the weak of Qing dynasty that forced China to learn from west, but it should combine with Chinese own tradition. Pro. Tian made comments for this lecture. He pointed out that the lecture was related to many subjects and the legitimacy of CPC was not coordinate with current democratic society and market economy. In his opinion, we should realize the modernity of CPC when talking about the mixing politics and the Party constitution and rules was approaching the direction of modern jurisprudence when referring to the relationship between constitution and them. Prof. Xie responded questions mentioned above respectively and had a deep discussion with students and teachers there.
  At the end of the lecture, prof. Ma made the final summary and thanked all attendees again. After taking photos, the lecture ended in a warm applause.


Editor: ZHANG Jiayun