Winter Holiday Book Titles from Our Faculty Members

Books

With the winter holiday fast approaching, the Faculty of Law and the Centre for Chinese Law are proud to present select book titles produced by our esteemed faculty members. We have selected six books out of the over 20 titles produced by our faculty during the period between 2020 – 2021. The featured books have been selected with a mind to keeping you abreast of key developments in contemporary legal scholarship for your holiday enjoyment. 

These titles cover a range of topics including the regulatory challenges of blockchain technology, gender imbalance in Chinese divorce courts, national security, Hong Kong cinema’s engagement with constitutional law, and the regulatory challenges presented by the rise of China.  

To learn more about our latest publications, visit our website.

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Film and Constitutional Controversy: Visualizing Hong Kong Identity in the Age of 'One Country, Two Systems'

Marco Wan

Professor Marco Wan is a professor of law and director of the Law and Literary Studies Programme. A leading scholar of law and humanities, his latest book examines how constitutional controversies are refracted in Hong Kong cinema.

The discussion of Hong Kong’s constitutional status has not been limited to the domain of academics and lawyers, and some of the key constitutional

debates under “One Country, Two Systems” have resonated in many corners of Hong Kong society. These debates have sparked impassioned disagreements, caused anxiety at different historical moments, and, more recently, given rise to massive demonstrations that changed the city’s legal and political landscape.

The book proceeds from the premise that one cannot understand the significance of these controversies from an assessment of the law alone. Professor Wan traces the historical evolution of the sense of identity in Hong Kong, reveals its connections with the city’s rule-of-law tradition, and provides an in-depth discussion of the complex and changing relationship between law and identity as it manifests itself in Hong Kong cinema in light of major constitutional disputes from the 1980s to the present. He explores both fiction and non-fiction films to show how they engage with legal issues and reflect an ongoing construction of cultural identity.

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Divorce in China: Institutional Constraints and Gendered Outcomes

Xin He

Professor Xin He is a renowned scholar in the field of social legal studies focused on Chinese courts as a site of contention. His latest book explores the gender imbalance that runs through Chinese divorce proceedings.

In recent years, China has seen an increase in gender consciousness, with lawmakers having drafted several laws with gendered considerations in mind. Yet, despite this, women still find themselves at a

disadvantage in Chinese divorce courts. Chinese women who try to get a divorce often see their requests mired by unreasonable delays, hear judges downplay episodes of domestic violence and strike deals that leave them dissatisfied.

Professor He points out that the institutional constraints placed on judges play a determinative role in producing such results. Concerns for social stability incentivize judges to produce the safest and most efficient outcomes rather than the most equitable ones. For instance, divorce judges with a mind to preserving social stability, prefer that disputes be resolved through mediation as such agreements cannot later be appealed. However, oftentimes mediation can place women at a disadvantage when their partners demand child custody as a condition for divorce.  

These bureaucratic constraints pervade the Chinese judicial system so deeply that simply having more female judges may not help mend these outcomes. He suggests that part of the problem stems from the fact that the responsibility for bad outcomes is disproportionally placed on judges. When divorce cases go awry and husbands commit acts of violence, judges are largely held responsible for the resulting social instability. He therefore contends that a judge’s responsibility for maintaining social stability is too onerous and any attempt at reform should seek to lessen it.

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香港動盪: 法與治的歷史與文化解讀 (Civil Unrest and Governance in Hong Kong: Law and Order from Historical and Cultural Perspectives)

Michael Ng & John Wong

Dr Michael Ng is an associate professor and legal historian whose interest lies in the legal history of Hong Kong and China during the 19th – 20th century. His latest book is a collection of interdisciplinary work that addresses the history of civil unrest in the city.

Large social movements have been part of Hong Kong’s history since the early days of the colonial government. ‘Civil Unrest and Governance in

Hong Kong’ explores these movements, challenging traditional concepts around the rule of law, governance and politics. 

Through an examination of the rule of law, conceptions of law and order and the cultural underpinnings at the heart of these movements, the authors paint a picture of the continuous development of justice in Hong Kong over the past century. 

This collection features work from scholars in the fields of socio-political studies, legal studies, cultural studies and history. This book serves as a perfect companion for those interested in gaining a fresh perspective on the movements that have defined Hong Kong.

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China's National Security: Endangering Hong Kong's Rule of Law?

Cora Chan & Fiona de Londras

Dr Cora Chan is an associate professor whose incisive work focuses on constitutional theory, human rights and public law. Her latest book grapples with the tension between China’s national security objectives and maintaining Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Since 1997, Hong Kong’s legal system has managed to maintain a distinctive character, adhering to a strong rule of law tradition despite

being situated within China’s Lenninist socialist legal system. This achievement is largely owed to the “one country two systems” principle, a constitutional framework that allows Hong Kong to exercise relative autonomy from China. However, this relationship has suffered enormous strain over the past few years, calling into question the viability of “one country two systems”. “China’s National Security: Endangering Hong Kong’s Rule of Law” evaluates whether China’s pursuit of national security objectives is possible without damaging Hong Kong’s rule of law.

This collection of work from scholars in the fields of comparative public law and national security offers a range of perspectives on this question and introduces potential strategies for balancing national security interests and the rule of law. Having been published just two months before the enactment of the National Security Law in 2020, its relevance to the future of “one country two systems” cannot be overstated.

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Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How The Rise of China Challenges Global Regulation

Angela Zhang

Dr Angela Zhang is an associate professor, director of the Centre for Chinese Law and a Chinese law expert who has written extensively on Chinese regulatory governance and antitrust. In the wake of China’s recent regulatory crackdown, her latest book, ‘Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism’ serves as a timely blueprint for understanding China’s complex regulatory environment. 

China’s meteoric rise over the past few decades has shaken up the 

global regulatory order. Overseas regulators struggle to know what to do with Chinese companies, unclear of their relationship with the state. At the same time, multinational corporations in China have an equally difficult time knowing how to navigate China’s idiosyncratic approach to antitrust enforcement. As Professor Zhang points out, “China is not only unique as an antitrust regulator but also, as a target of regulation.” 

As the economies of China and the West become more integrated, regulatory tensions are bound to intensify. ‘Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism’ explores antitrust regulation as a way to understand these broader conflicts associated with increased globalization. 


By exploring the underlying institutional forces at play, Professor Zhang seeks to challenge conventional ideas about Chinese companies and Chinese regulation, saying: “What you see on the surface is merely the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that the Chinese economic and political landscapes are as complex as the institutions that shape them”. 

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Rethinking the Regulation of Cryptoassets: Cryptographic Consensus Technology and the New Prospect

Syren Johnstone

Mr Syren Johnstone has had decades of practice experience prior to joining HKU. His latest book critically examines the current approach to regulating cryptoassets while offering potential alternatives.

When blockchain technology hit the scene in the form of Bitcoin, it posed a serious challenge to regulators and policymakers around the world. In addressing this challenge, regulators achieved some success by applying

a financial regulation framework to this brand new cryptoasset.

It seemed a natural fit, given Bitcoin’s use as a digital currency. However, blockchain’s wider potential to transform social, commercial and institutional relationships has led Johnstone to question whether a financial regulation model is suitable for handling the regulation of cryptoassets. While acknowledging the past successes of the model, Johnstone critically evaluates the detrimental impact such regulatory narratives have had on the digital ecosystem.

He identifies the current regulatory approaches as stemming from “old prospect” thinking - applying 20th-century narratives to 21st-century technology. Through its ability to secure transactions and build consensus across a decentralised network, blockchain has the potential to transform society in previously unimaginable ways. Johnstone asserts that regulation should accommodate this “new prospect” of social possibilities, rather than impede its progress.

Solutions are needed now more than ever, given the current state of the problem. As Johnstone says: 

“As it stands now, the rate of problems that are emerging seems to be exponentially faster than the rate of solutions the financial narrative is capable of offering”.