Reading the tea leaves of China’s rule-of-law project

Date & time
6–7.15pm Wednesday 9 September 2020

Via Zoom Webinar

ANU Law Marketing
60th Anniversary Celebrations
 Reading the tea leaves of China’s rule-of-law project

Reading the tea leaves of China’s rule-of-law project

A push to codify party leadership into law and enshrine “socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics” suggests that the Chinese Communist Party acknowledges the legitimating power of law. At the same time, China under Xi Jinping continues to bypass state legal requirements through extra-legal detentions and other coercive measures. This has included the detention of up to 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the arrest of Canadian and Australian citizens without due process. The end game of Xi’s push to institutionalise and legalise party leadership over the law is uncertain. Emphasising party leadership raises concerns about increased politicisation of decision-making, with less transparency and accountability, threatening not only economic and social development, but also the rule-of-law project that is intended to enhance party legitimacy.

Join our panel of experts as we explore China's rule-of-law project under Xi Jinping's rule. The panel will be moderated by Dr Graeme Smith, fellow at ANU Department of Pacific Affairs and co-host of the Little Red Podcast.


  • Dr Jonathan Liljeblad »

    Dr Jonathan Liljeblad received a PhD and JD from the University of Southern California (USC), an MS from the University of Washington (UW), and a BS from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). His research largely focuses on rule-of-law, with case studies from human rights and environmental issues. Generally, his research falls within the fields of international law, rule-of-law, human rights, environmental law, law & development, and law & society. He currently is working on projects supported by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

  • Helen Zhang »

    GDLP '12, LLB(Hons) '10, BAsianStudies(Chinese) '10

    Helen Zhang is a recent Master in Public Administration graduate and Fulbright Scholar from the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).  She is currently researching the topic of a post-Covid-19 world order with the Harvard Belfer Center. Prior to HKS, Helen served as an Australian diplomat in Israel and China, where she worked on political and economic issues, and as a commercial lawyer.  She graduated from the ANU College of Law in 2010.       

  • Yun Jiang »

    MPubPol '18, MDipl '18

    Yun Jiang is an editor of the China Story blog and a producer of China Neican, a weekly policy-focused China analysis newsletter. She is also a director of the China Policy Centre and has published widely on China-related topics. Prior to this, she was a policy adviser in the Australian Government.

  • Dr Graeme Smith (moderator) »

    PhD '08

    Dr Greame Smith is a Research Fellow at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs. His research interests are Chinese state and non-state actors in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, the political economy of local government in rural China, and the geopolitics of search engines. He has active projects in China (Beijing, Fujian and Yunnan), Papua New Guinea (PNG), New Caledonia, Tonga, Samoa, East Timor, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. He also hosts the Little Red Podcast with former BBC and NPR China correspondent Louisa Lim of Melbourne University, which won the 2018 Australian Podcast Award in the News and Current Affairs category (

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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team