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Empirical studies of the Chinese legal system have proliferated in recent decades. This trend has only been accelerated by greater generation of data on the one hand and methodological innovations in the social sciences on the other. Empirical legal research promises to enrich our understanding of legal phenomenon and to furnish a knowledge base for debating legal doctrine and theory. But the apparent objectivity of numbers can also mislead those unfamiliar with the assumptions and extrapolations underlying many of the conclusions drawn from quantitative research.  

To foster critical and constructive discussion about this emerging field, the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law will host a conference on " The Empirical Turn in Chinese Legal Research: Challenges, Strategies, and Solutions" to be held in-person at the University’s Centennial Campus on 9 and 10 January 2023. Anyone with a keen interest is most welcome to join us!

Empirical Turn in Chinese Legal Research - Challenges, Strategies, and Solutions

Date: 9 - 10 January 2023

Format: *Hybrid-mode - Online participation is available*

Registration Deadline: 7 January 2023 17:00 (HKT)


Click to register

Programme Agenda

Monday, January 9, 2023 (Hong Kong Time)

Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Philip K.H. Wong Theatre, 2/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

08:50 – 08:55


Welcoming Remarks

Hualing Fu

Warren Chan Professor in Human Rights and Responsibilities, Dean, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

09:00 – 10:30


Parallel Session One: Empiricism in Chinese Legal Research

Introduction to Empirical Methods
The State of the Field


Zhiyu LI

Durham Law School

Observational Studies

Lauren Yu-Hsin LIN

City University of Hong Kong

Interview and Case Studies

Xin HE

University of Hong Kong

Empirical Legal Research Based on China's Judgment Documents Still on the Upward Way

Yang FENG 


Zhejiang University

On the Impact of Intelligent Algorithms on Empirical Research—Research on the “Zhejiang Smart Justice”

Yandong GAO 

Qionghui ZHANG

Zhejiang University


Empirical Research on "Empirical Legal Research in China": Current Situation, Challenges and Improvements

Xujiang ZHENG 

Pengfei WANG

Zhejiang Sci-Tech University

09:00 – 10:30



10:30 – 10:45

Parallel Session Two: Empirical Studies

The Logic of Authoritarian Judicial Review: How Chinese Courts Handle Citizens' Administrative Lawsuits Against the Police

Yutian AN

Princeton University

Recognition and Resolution of Differences in Application of Law to the Identification of Overage Laborers’ Labor Relationship—Full-sample Analysis and Deep Learning Based on 1851 Judgments

Nanfei GU

Runliang NIU

Jilin University

The Silent Influence of the Guiding Cases

Benjamin CHEN

University of Hong Kong

An Empirical Study on Enhancing Guarantees to Improve Judges' Willingness to Stay

Changming HU

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

10:45 – 12:45


What Motivates the Diffusion of Judicial Organizations? A Event History Analysis on 294 Environment Courts in China

Yuanyuan ZHANG 

Tsinghua University


Syracuse University

Does Regulation of Defensive Tactics with Mandatory Rules Benefit Shareholders? Evidence from Event Studies in China

James ZENG

Chinese University of Hong Kong

11:45 – 12:45


10:45 – 11:45


Event Studies
Courts and Judicial Decision-making
Crime and Punishment

Pan-moralism, Retributionalism, and Heavy-Penaltyism: A Corpus-Assisted Study of Chinese Youth’s Legal Consciousness


City University of Hong Kong

Mengliang DAI 

Macau University of Science and Technology

An Empirical Study on the Harmless Error Doctrine in Taiwan

Mao-hong LIN

National Taipei University

12:45 – 14:00

Lunch Break

Plenary Session One: Legal Documents as Data

14:00 – 15:45


How to Measure Institutional Agency and Procedural Justice in Court Decisions?


Leiden University


Leiden University


University of Tübingen

Corpus Linguistics: A Novel Approach to Empirical Legal Research

Xiaoqin HE

Wuhan University

Managing Transparency in China's Courts

Benjamin LIEBMAN

Columbia Law School

Plenary Session Two: Data and Sampling

16:00 – 17:45


Monopoly and Fragmentation: Data Collection in Chinese Legal Studies

Qin MA

University of California, Los Angeles

Estimating Caseload and Transparency of the Chinese Courts

Zhuang LIU


The University of Hong Kong

Tradeoff between “Big Data” and “Small Data": A Simulation Study on the Application of Sampling Technique in Empirical Legal Research

Yiwei XIA

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 (Hong Kong Time)

Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Plenary Session Three: Fallacies and Fixes

09:00 – 10:45


Fashion and Fallacies: An Empirical Study of “Empirical Legal Studies” in Mainland China

Jinhua CHENG

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Bad Controls in Chinese Empirical Legal Studies

Benjamin CHEN

Xiaohan YIN

The University of Hong Kong

Augmenting Serialized Bureaucratic Data: The Case of Chinese Courts

Xiaohan WU

University of California, San Diego

10:45 – 11:00


Plenary Session Four: The Limitations of Quantitative Empiricism

11:00 – 12:40


Problems and Misunderstandings in Legal Empirical Research in China: Taking Papers Related to Judgment Documents as an Example

Zeyang YU

Jilin University

The Application and Limitations of Quantitative Methods in the Assessment of Administration of Justice in China

Hongqi WU

Peking University

How to do Empirical Legal Studies Without Numbers

Sida LIU

The University of Hong Kong

Sitao LI

University of Toronto

12:40 – 12:45


Closing Remarks

Angela ZHANG

Director, Philip K.H. Wong Centre for Chinese Law

Full programme is also available HERE.

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