Recent Events: Bail Reform in Massachusetts


USALI has been working with experts in in Asia to share information about criminal justice reform generally and in China to share information about “bail reform”  in particular.  In fact, we have a bilingual book scheduled for publication later this month comparing pre-trial detention regimes in the United States and China.

In that spirit, we note that, according to our colleagues at the Brennan Center,  Massachusetts has recently enacted reforms that have the following features:

Bail reform: Nationwide, 65 percent of those held in local jails haven’t been convicted of a crime. Instead, they’re awaiting pending court action, and many can’t afford the bail amount that would let them out. This legislation lays out important procedural requirements, including that judges now need to justify in writing those instances in which bail is set so high as to prevent someone’s release. It also creates a commission to pursue additional improvements in bail reform. Until recently, Massachusetts courts didn’t have to justify amounts set. That changed in August with a ruling by the state’s high court requiring judges to consider financial circumstances of defendants in setting bail.

Increased use of diversion: The nation’s jails and prisons, including those in Massachusetts, house far too many individuals suffering from mental illness or substance abuse issues. In Boston’s Suffolk County Jail, 85 percent of people are incarcerated for drug or alcohol offenses, and more than 42 percent have mental health problems. With this reform, Massachusetts will require all district attorneys to create pre-arraignment diversion programs for veterans, individuals with substance abuse issues, or people suffering from mental illness. These alternatives to incarceration have shown promise of preventing repeat contact with law enforcement and steering people to needed treatment and services. The new law also expands restorative justice diversion programs that aim to reduce incarceration and repair wrongs of crime.

The Massachusetts law includes other reforms that should reduce incarcerations rates and ease transition to society.  These include:

-          Greater support for reentry transition
-          Makes it easier for judges to waive court-imposed fees
-          Raising minimum age of criminal responsibility and age of criminal majority
-          Eliminates mandatory minimums for many drug crimes
-          Raised monetary threshold for property crime to qualify as a felony

For more information, please see:

Link to Brennan Center Article
Link to MassLive Article
Link to Boston Globe Article
Link to Bill H.4011
Link to Bill S.2185

Jerome A. Cohen Honored with the Order of the Rising Sun from the Government of Japan

 (ABOVE L- R) NYU Professor of Law  Jerome A. Cohen  and Consul General Ambassador  Reiichiro Takahashi

(ABOVE L- R) NYU Professor of Law Jerome A. Cohen and Consul General Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi


April 4, 2018 -- Jerome A. Cohen, NYU Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute, received the illustrious honor of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. Consul General Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi awarded the prestigious honor. The evening also featured congratulations by NYU Law School Dean Trevor Morrison and U.S.-Asia Law Institute Senior Fellow Ren Ito. Professor Cohen was awarded for his outstanding contributions in promoting interactions among Japanese and U.S. legal professionals as well as to enhancing the understanding on Japan among people in U.S. .

 USALI Staff, NYU Faculty, and Friends

USALI Staff, NYU Faculty, and Friends

When Professor Cohen started East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, it was one of the first programs of its kind in the United States. During his twenty-five years at Harvard, Professor Cohen also contributed to the foundation of Japanese law teaching and research beginning 1972, and often taught Japanese law in cooperation with visiting experts from Japan.

For the past twenty-seven years at New York University Law School, he has facilitated the establishment of an increasingly prominent research center on Asian law and helped to recruit distinguished professors who specialize in Japanese law. He now serves as Faculty Director of the US-Asia Law Institute. The Institute annually hosts 10-12 legal experts and researchers from Asian countries (about 3-4 from Japan), provides research and educational opportunities for students from many countries, and promotes exchanges, conferences and lectures on Asian law.

As a legal expert, Cohen has long addressed rule of law, human rights and other international law issues regarding China, has published many books and essays and through hundreds of op-eds has contributed to public understanding of the role of law in American foreign policy.


2018 Spring Festival Message


Dear Friend,

We hope that you are enjoying the Spring Festival, and we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous Year of the Dog. We are also excited to report to you on our recent activities and to let you in on our plans for the coming year.

This past year, in addition to the well-attended courses we teach on Chinese, Japanese and International Law, the U.S.-Asia Law Institute organized over 40 public events at the law school, including our weekly lunch speaker series, two large scale conferences, several special lectures and book talks, and presentations by our visiting scholars from Asia on their research. We covered a wide range of current topics relating to the law of Asian jurisdictions and international law, including the East China and South China Sea disputes, human rights, bankruptcy law, Asian legal systems as portrayed in Asian cinema, anti-discrimination law in China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other financial institutions, Taiwan’s law reform, same sex marriage in Asia, and regulating hate speech in Japan. 

We were also honored to welcome many distinguished guests. Last March, in front of an overflow crowd, Professor Cohen interviewed his former student, Taiwan’s recent president, Ma Ying-jeou, on the current challenges facing the island.  We also hosted Natalie Lichtenstein, a leading World Bank lawyer whom the Chinese government recruited to serve as the first general counsel of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  We were pleased to have created many opportunities for well-known scholars and legal professionals to speak to our growing community.

Our public events at NYU have helped to foster a stimulating atmosphere for our students, staff researchers, faculty and the more than a dozen visiting scholars from China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea whom we have welcomed in each of the last two years, and we are now inviting visiting scholars from Viet Nam as well.

In addition, we continue to host short-term delegations from Asian jurisdictions who seek intensive updates on American legal reforms. In April, we welcomed a dozen Japanese criminal defense lawyers who came to New York City to learn about how plea bargaining works in the United States and also to study how public defenders and appointed counsel may participate in the early stages of a criminal case.  To help them achieve these goals, USALI arranged meetings with experts, including our staff and faculty, as well as site visits to state and federal courts, a New York City police precinct house and interrogation room, NYPD headquarters, and various prosecutors’ offices and legal aid lawyers.  We covered a great deal of ground, both physically and academically, in one week and our Japanese visitors expressed tremendous gratitude for the program.

In October, we hosted a dozen legal experts from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Viet Nam for a month-long intensive study of how wrongful convictions of innocent people occur, how they can be prevented and how the innocent may be exonerated.  We had organized a similar program in 2016 and, unbeknownst to us, two of the participants, one from Taiwan and one from Mainland China, self-published detailed accounts of the program, including an account on social media.  As a result, we encountered strong demand to repeat the program this past year.  At the end of the month-long training, several participants remarked that it was the best program they had ever attended.  Wrongful convictions occur in every country and they are receiving more attention in all of the jurisdictions where we work.  We are proud to be able to share our learning with experts from all of these Asian countries who can then take that expertise back home to improve their own legal systems and prevent miscarriages of justice.

In November, Professor Cohen, NYU Professor Jim Jacobs, affiliated scholars Aaron Halegua, Yu-jie Chen and I all participated in a Track II U.S. - China Human Rights Dialogue hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

We also continued our legal exchange projects in China.  We started the year in Nanjing and Hainan.  In Nanjing, we collaborated with Nanjing University Law School to convene two workshops, one on labor law and another on employment discrimination.  In the labor law workshop, we explored the worldwide trend toward new employment arrangements in the so-called “gig economy,” in which China has taken a leading role.  In our anti-discrimination workshop, we discussed addressing gender discrimination in employment, and especially discrimination against pregnant women, which appears to be on the rise now that China has adopted a two child policy. 

In Hainan, Professor Cohen and Professor Peter Dutton, a USALI-affiliated scholar based at the U.S. Naval War College, participated in a Track II Dialogue on disputes in the South and East China Seas.  As you may know, Jerry and Peter have been leaders in advocating for the use of international law to resolve these disputes peacefully. 

In June, USALI convened its first workshop in Japan, co-sponsoring an event with the Innocence Project Japan on preventing false confessions and the cognitive bias to which they lead.  We convened similar programs in Kunming and Beijing and worked directly with Chinese criminal investigators on how to conduct effective police interrogations without coercion and without eliciting false confessions.  These workshops are part of our ongoing effort to share expertise and best practices in the prevention of miscarriages of justice.

Also in June, USALI worked with local law schools in Chengdu and Guangzhou to convene day-long workshops with scholars, criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges to compare the roles that criminal defense lawyers play in the United States and China, and to explore whether our respective rules of professional responsibility effectively protect lawyers from punishment for simply doing their jobs representing the lawful interests of their clients.

During 2017, our scholars produced an impressive list of publications, including a highly regarded Harvard University Press book on Chinese labor law by our colleague and faculty advisor, Professor Cynthia Estlund: “A New Deal for Chinese Workers?”  Another one of our distinguished affiliated scholars, Professor Sida Liu, published another excellent book on Chinese criminal defense lawyers, titled: “China, Between Reform and Repression: Lawyers & the Fight for Basic Legal Freedoms.”  Professor Cohen was prolific in publishing opinion pieces on the issues of the day ranging from North Korea to the detention of a Taiwanese human rights activist on the Mainland and also published several chapters of what will eventually become his memoirs.  Read our 2017 Publication Highlights here, and reference our activities here.

We are also very proud of our work producing two volumes in English and Chinese – one on best practices in police interrogation and the other on best practices in making pre-trial detention and release decisions.  We expect both volumes to be published this coming year.

We are extremely grateful for all the academic, spiritual and financial support that we received from our friends this past year.  With generous support from the Ford Foundation, we were able to launch a $13 million endowment campaign.  We are pleased to report that, thanks to many of you, we were able to raise $8.5 million during the past year.  Thanks to your contributions, our success in fundraising triggered a commitment by the Ford Foundation to provide us with two more years of funding while we continue to work hard to raise the remaining $5 million.  The endowment will honor the work of our founder, mentor, and colleague, Professor Jerome A. Cohen, and ensure the financial sustainability of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute, a significant part of Jerry’s legacy.

This past year, we were pleased to add two colleagues to our staff, Trang (Mae) Nguyen, who is helping us to expand our work in Viet Nam, and Adam Gordon, a recent graduate of NYU Law School.  Adam hails from Canada and is the first Masaiyawa-Bernstein Human Rights Fellow to join our team. 

During this coming year, we expect to continue to advance our goals of constructive engagement and exchange on legal issues with our partners in East Asia and to also continue to explain legal developments in Asia to a growing audience in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world.

We look forward to earning your continued support and we wish you all the best in the coming year.

Very truly yours,

Ira Belkin
Executive Director and Adjunct Professor Law
U.S.-Asia Law Institute

2017 Publication Highlights

Jerome A. Cohen, USALI Faculty Director

·         “Why Trump should give nuclear-armed North Korea a shot at peace,” South China Morning Post, February 6, 2017.

·         “Establish Yourself at Thirty: My Decision to Study China’s Legal System,” Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs, Volume 34, 2017.

·         “A Taiwanese Man’s Detention in Guangdong Threatens a Key Pillar of Cross-Straits Relations,” ChinaFile, April 20, 2017.

·         “Activists in China pay a heavy price for fighting everyday injustices,” South China Morning Post, May 2, 2017.

·         “Taiwan’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage highlights the gulf with mainland China,” South China Morning Post, May 29, 2017.

·         “Comments on Lee Ming-che’s Arrest,” ChinaFile, May 30, 2017.

·         “How India border stand-off gives China a chance to burnish its global image,” South China Morning Post, July 21, 2017. (with Peter Dutton)

·         “Political Prisoners in Hong Kong,” ChinaFile, August 17, 2017. 

·         “How China’s trial of Lee Ming-che is a warning to Taiwanese activists inspired by freedoms and democracy,” South China Morning Post, October 2, 2017. (with Yu-Jie Chen) 

·         "Hong Kong in 1963-4: adventures of A Budding China Watcher," Hong Kong Law Journal, Vol. 47, Part 1, 2017.

·         “Law and China’s “Open Policy”: A Foreigner Present at the Creation,” The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 65, Issue 4, page 729 – 738, 2018.

·         “Law’s Relation to Political Power in China: The Domestic Situation”, Sixth Herbert Han-Pao Ma Distinguished Lectureship, pp. 251-271. Taipei: The Ma Foundation for High Purpose and National Taiwan University College of Law, November 2017.

·          “Law and Power in China’s International Relations”, Sixth Herbert Han-Pao Ma Distinguished Lectureship, pp. 275-309. Taipei: The Ma Foundation for High Purpose and National Taiwan University College of Law, November 2017.

Ira Belkin, Executive Director, USALI

·         Justice in the PRC : how the Chinese Communist Party has struggled with managing public opinion and the administration of criminal justice in the Internet age”, Justice the China Experience, Cambridge Press, 2017. 

·         美国冤错案件的 · 预 · 防与 · 纠 ·正, 2017.

Selected Publications by USALI Affiliated Scholars, Researchers & Staff

Alexis Agliano Sanborn, Program Coordinator

·         More than a Meal: School Lunch in Japan, Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies, Spring 2017.

Alvin Y. H. Cheung, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         Beijing Gnaws at Rule of Law in Hong Kong, East Asia Forum, September 2017.

Professors Peter Dutton and Isaac Kardon, USALI Affiliated Scholars

·         "Forget the FONOPs — Just Fly, Sail and Operate Wherever International Law Allows", LawFare, 2017.

Cynthia Estlund, NYU Professor of Law, USALI Faculty Advisor

·         Book: “A New Deal for China's Workers?” Harvard University Press, 2017.

Aaron Halegua, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         "What is socialist about Labour law in China?" Socialist Law in Socialist East Asia, Cambridge University Press, Cynthia Estlund, in Pip Nicholson, John Gillespie, Hualing Fu and Will Partlett, 2017.

·         "Access to Justice for China's Workers," NYU Labor and Employment Law News, Issue 13, Winter 2017.

Roderick Hills, NYU Professor of Law, USALI Faculty Advisor

·         "Voice and Exit as Accountability Mechanisms: Can Foot-Voting Be Made Safe for the Chinese Communist Party?" (with Shitong Qiao), Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 2017.

Margaret K. Lewis, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         “Protecting the Rights of the Accused in U.S.-China Relations,” ChinaFile, November 2017.

·         “Taiwan’s Human Rights Revolution and China’s Devolution,” The Diplomat, October 2017.

·         Penetrating Law Into the Walls of Chinese Detention Centers,” China Policy Institute, July 2017.

·         The World is Deserting Taiwan. How Should the U.S. Respond?” ChinaFile Conversation, June 2017.

·         What Would Trump Do if there were another Tiananmen Incident?” CFR, May 2017

·         "Human Rights and the U.S.-China Relationship" George Washington International Law Review, 2017.

Liu Sida, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         Internationalizing Chinese Legal Education in the Early Twenty-First Century, Journal of Legal Education 66 (2), 237-266, Z Wang, S Liu, X Li, 2017.

·         基层法院审判委员会压力案件决策的实证研究, 王伦刚, 刘思达, 法学研究 39 (1), 80-99, 2017.

·         Overlapping Ecologies: Professions and Development in the Rise of Legal Services in China, Sociology of Development 3 (3), 212-231, 2017.

·         Beyond the Manifesto: Mustafa Emirbayer and Relational Sociology, Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology, L Liang, S Liu, 2017. 

·         The Elastic Ceiling: Gender and Professional Career in Chinese Courts, Law & Society Review 51 (1), 168-199, C Zheng, J Ai, S Liu, 2017. 

·         Lawyer Discipline in an Authoritarian Regime: Empirical Insights from Zhejiang Province, China, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 30 (2), 267-300, JA McMorrow, S Liu, B van Rooij, 2017.

Erin Murphy, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         Sessions is Wrong to Take Science Out of Forensic Science,” New York Times, April 2017.

·         “Forensic DNA Typing,” Annual Review of Criminology, January 2018.

Eva Pils, USALI Affiliated Scholar

·         A New Torture in China,” CPIA, August 2017.

·         “Justice the China Experience: Doing justice: traditional and liberal conceptions of political morality in contemporary Chinese advocacy initiatives” Cambridge Press, 2017.

·         “Human Rights in China: A Social Practice in the Shadows of Authoritarianism,” China Polity, 2017.

Frank K. Upham, NYU Professor of Law, USALI Faculty Advisor

·         “Lessons from Chinese Growth: Rethinking the Role of Property Rights in Development.” In The Beijing Consensus? How China has Changed Western Ideas of Law and Economic Development, edited by Weitseng Chen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 119-143. 

·         “China’s changing property law landscape.” In Comparative Property Law: Global Perspective, edited by Michele Graziadei and Lionel Smith, (Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 2017), 311-332 (with Shitong Qiao).


2017 Summary of Activities


2017 was a busy year at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute! In addition to many public events at New York University, we were also able to hold events, lectures, and workshops overseas. Enjoy this brief 2017 At a Glance.


06-07     (Beijing) Workshop on Labor Law at Nanjing University: Labor Regulation in the “Gig Economy”

08-09     (Beijing) Workshop on Anti-Discrimination Law at Nanjing University: Pregnancy-based Discrimination
in China

23           Asia Law Weekly: Celebrating China's 'Day of the Endangered Lawyers' with Special Guest Speaker Teng Biao, Human Rights Lawyer

26           Asia Law Weekly: Human Rights – an International Perspective with Special Guest Speaker Manfred Nowak, Professor of Law, University of Vienna


06           Asia Law Weekly: Bankruptcy Law in China with Special Guest Speaker Charles Booth, Director of the Institute of Asian-Business Law

13           Asia Law Weekly:  Japanese Law and its Development with Special Guest Speaker Colin Jones, Professor, Doshisha Law School (Kyoto)

22           Lecture:  Business, Law, and Government in China: Reflections from Experience with David Bonderman, Founding Partner and Chairman, TPG Capital; Dick Cashin, Founder and President, One Equity Partners; and Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of USALI

22           Visiting Scholar Presentation: Wrongful Convictions in China with Yan Xiang, Associate Professor at Southwest University of  Political Science and Law

27           Visiting Scholar Presentation: Saiban-in and the Death Penalty in Japan by Takashi Maruta, Professor at Kwansei Gakuin University Law School

27           Asia Law Weekly: A Conversation with Professor Jerome A. Cohen


02           Asia Law Society & USALI: A Conversation with Ma Yin-jeou, Former President, Republic of China

06           Asia Law Weekly: Human Rights in China & LGBTQ Issues with Special Guest Speaker Dan Zhou, Lawyer and LGBT Rights Advocate.

10           Delegation: Professor Yuan Lin from Southwest University of Political Science and Law to study the judicial process.

20           Asia Law Weekly: Legal Issues at International Financial Institutions with Special Guest Speaker Natalie Lichtenstein, U.S.-Lawyer and specialist in legal development in China.

22           Visiting Scholar Presentation: Aggregate Dispute Resolution in U.S. and Japan with Hirotoshi Uchiumi, Associate Professor at Rikkyo University.

23           Asia Law Weekly: Movies, Law and China with Special Guest Speaker Andrew Duncan , Owner and Founder of of film and investment company of IGX LLC.

27           Asia Law Weekly: Film and Human Rights in China with Special Guest Speaker Alison Conner, Professor of Law and Director of international programs at the Richardson School of Law.

29           Visiting Scholar Presentation: The Difference of Discrimination Against LGBT People between Japan and the US and How to Eliminate it Through Litigation and Legislation with Takeharu Kato, lawyer and member of the Japan Bar Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA).


02-07     Delegation: Japan Bar Federation Association (JFBA) to study plea bargaining and the role of defense lawyers in interrogations.

03           Asia Law Weekly: Human Rights in China Special Guest Speaker Eva Pils, Reader in Transnational Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London.

06           Book Event: A New Deal for China’s Workers? By NYU Law Professor Cynthia Estlund.

10           Asia Law Weekly: Poverty at Home and Abroad with Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

13-14     Bernstein Institute for Human Rights Annual Symposium with USALI Executive Director Ira Belkin participating.

17           Asia Law Weekly: Human rights in China with Special Guest Speaker Steve Orlins, President of National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

19           Visiting Scholar Presentation: A Comparative Study of American Hate Speech Law and Japanese Hate Speech Law with Shinji Higaki, Associate Professor of Fukuoka University, Japan

24           Asia Law Weekly: Special Guest Speaker Chi-Ting Tsai, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University

26           Asia Law Weekly: Developments in Anti-Discrimination Law in China with Special Guest Speaker Xiaonan Liu, Professor and the Director Constitutionalism Research Institute at China University of Political Science and Law

26           Visiting Scholar Presentation: The Usefulness of the Jury System? With Justin Shen, Judge of the Taiwan High Court


3              Visiting Scholar Presentation: Plea Bargaining in China with Siyuan Wu, Ph.D. candidate in Criminal Procedure Law at East China University of Political Science and Law

4              Book Talk: China Between Reform and Repression with USALI Affiliated Scholar Sida Liu

10           Visiting Scholar Presentation: Same-sex Marriage in China: Legal Evaluation and Possible Development with Jingqiu Deng, Ph.D. candidate at Renmin University of China, Law School

17           Visiting Scholar Presentation: Condemnation Law: A Comparison between the United States and China with Lujia Gao, Ph.D. candidate at Shandong University (SDU) Law School

17           Event: Law in China Sinica Podcast Live at China Institute with Jerome A. Cohen


19           (Osaka, Japan) Lecture: Sources and Causes of Wrongfully Convicting the Innocent: from Biased Scientific Evidence to Misguided Interrogation with Dr. Andy Griffiths and cognitive bias expert Dr. Itiel Dror, hosted by Innocence Project Japan (IPJ).

20           (Kunming, China) Lecture: Sources and Causes of Wrongfully Convicting the Innocent: from Biased Scientific Evidence to Misguided Interrogation with Dr. Andy Griffiths and Dr. Itiel Dror.

22           (Beijing, China) Lecture: Sources and Causes of Wrongfully Convicting the Innocent: from Biased Scientific Evidence to Misguided Interrogation with Dr. Andy Griffiths and Dr. Itiel Dror.


04           (Chengdu, China) Presentation: Duties and Professional Responsibilities of Lawyers held at Southwestern Minzu University Law School

05           (Chengdu, China) Workshop: Duties and Professional Responsibilities of Lawyers held at Southwestern Minzu University Law School

07           (Guangzhou, China) Workshop: Duties and Professional Responsibilities of Lawyers held at Guangzhou University School of Law

08           (Gunagzhou, China) Presentation & Demonstration: Duties and Professional Responsibilities of Lawyers held at Guangzhou University School of Law

31           Submitted for publication: [Titles of Books] Manuscript on 1) Police Investigation and Interrogation Methods and 2) Pretrial Detention and Release to China Law Press (Publication forthcoming in 2018)


06           Asia Law Weekly: Criminal Law and Human Rights in China with Special Guest Speaker Ira Belkin, USALI Executive Director

09           2017-2018 USALI Visiting Scholars Orientation and Welcome Reception

11           Asia Law Weekly: Issues of the South China Sea with Special Guest Speaker Peter Dutton, Professor of Strategic Studies and Director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College

11-24     (Shanghai, China) Lecture Series: Peter Zimroth, Court-Appointed Monitor of NYPD, in relation to stop-and-frisk litigation

18           Asia Law Weekly: Law and Reform in Taiwan with Special Guest Speaker Yu-Jie Chen, Taiwan Lawyer and Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Institutum Iurisprudentiae of Academia Sinica.

19           Social Event: Asia Law Society, Japan Law Society, and USALI Autumn Social.


01-31     Training Program: Preventing and Redressing Wrongful Convictions organized and hosted by USALI.

01-31     Research Visit: Eva Pils, Reader in Transnational Law.

3              Asia Law Weekly: Religion in Hong Kong by Special Guest Speaker Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.

09           Asia Law Weekly: Human Rights in China (Part II) by Special Guest Speaker Eva Pils, Reader in Transnational Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London

16           Asia Law Weekly: Special Guest Speaker Yun-chien Chang, Research Professor at Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taiwan and the Director of the Empirical Legal Studies Center

23           Asia Law Weekly: Art in Korea – North and South with Mina Cheon, Korean-American global new media artist, scholar, and educator

26           Asia Law Weekly: Zhiyuan Guo, Professor of Law, China University of Political Science and Law

30           Asia Law Weekly: Wrongful Convictions with Special Guest Speaker Rongjie Lan, Associate Professor of Law at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics


06           Annual Event: Timothy A. Gelatt Memorial Dialogue, China & International Law: Human Rights, Sovereignty, and Maritime Disputes

09           Delegation: Xiao Kai and associated prosecutors visit to discuss legal aid, plea bargaining, and give presentation on the supervision law

13           Asia Law Weekly: Property Law in China with Shitong Qiao, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong

20           Asia Law Weekly: Constitutionalism in Asia with Michael Davis, Professor of Law and International Affairs at India’s Jindal Global University and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Liu Institute for Asian Studies at Notre Dame University

27           Asia Law Weekly: Chinese History and Law with John Israel, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Virginia

2017 - 2018 Visiting Scholar Presentation Series


Every spring the U.S.-Asia Law Institute holds the Visiting Scholar Presentation Series. It's an opportunity for our Visiting Scholars to share their research with the NYU Community. In addition to sharing the research that they have conducted during their year at the Institute, it also allows them to share various topics and issues from their home country. 

Please mark your calendars for Wednesday afternoons from 2:30 - 4:00 pm. The schedule and times are subject to change, so please check the website for updates. 

These events are open to the NYU Community, but we request that you RSVP for each event. 

Tentative Schedule

March 7 - Seigo Onishi (Japan) 
March 21 - Zhiyu Li (China)
March 28 - Yihsien Wu (Taiwan)
April 4 - Ryangok Ku (Japan) 
April 11 - Yan Dongni (China)
April 18 - Ayako Hatano (Japan)
April 25 - Meijun Xu (China)

Gelatt Dialogue 2017: Watch & Read

On November 6, 2017 the U.S.-Asia Law Institute held its 23rd Annual Timothy A. Gelatt Memorial Dialogue on the Rule of Law in East Asia. This year’s theme - “China and International Law: Human Rights, Sovereignty, and Maritime Disputes” - focused on China's approach to international law during the Xi Jinping era as seen through the Communist Party's human rights record, Taiwan-Mainland cross-strait legal problems, China's maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas and the erosion of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong. This all-day event will feature speakers from China, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as well as the United States.

Panel I: The United Nations, China, and Human Rights



  • Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law and Faculty Director and Co-Chair, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law; UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
  • Sharon Hom ’80, Director, China and International Human Rights Research Program of the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, and Adjunct Professor of Law, NYU School of Law; Executive Director, Human Rights in China
  • Teng Biao, Former Law Professor and Lawyer in China, Affiliated Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

Panel II: Taiwan, Cross-Strait Relations, and Human Rights



  • Yu-Jie Chen LLM ’08, JSD ’16, Postdoctoral Researcher, Academia Sinica (Taiwan), Affiliated Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

In the second panel, “Taiwan, Cross-Strait Relations, and Human Rights,” Ms. Yu-Jie Chen described the highly-publicized case of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese human rights advocate who was detained and later arrested during a visit to (Mainland) China.  Mr. Lee’s case demonstrates a new threat to NGOs and civil society, and sends a warning to overseas activists wishing to promote human rights in China.  Ms. Chen described how Mr. Lee’s arrest has undermined China’s “hearts and minds” policy, and demonstrated the need for Taiwan to reflect on its cross-strait policy, including whether there is any room for human rights in cross-strait relations.

Panel III: Hong Kong: Is the Sino-British Joint Declaration Still Operable?  



  • Alvin Cheung LLM ’14, JSD (Year 2), Nonpracticing Hong Kong Barrister and Affiliated Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute

Panel IV: Japan, China, and Disputes in the East China Sea


Consul General Reiichiro Takahashi and USALI Senior Fellow Ren Ito ('18) offered a candid assessment of East China Sea disputes.


  • Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Consul General of Japan in New York
  • Ren Ito LLM ’04, Senior Fellow, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

Panel V: The South China Sea After the Philippine Arbitration



  • Peter Dutton, Professor of Strategic Studies and Director, China Maritime Studies Institute, US Naval War College; Adjunct Professor of Law and Affiliated Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law
  • Isaac Kardon, Assistant Professor, US Naval War College; Affiliated Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

The final panel of the day explored recent developments in the South China Sea sovereignty dispute in the wake of the Philippine Arbitration Award.  Peter Dutton demonstrated how, despite Beijing’s refusal to recognize the arbitration award, China’s statements and actions throughout the dispute have given us clues about the legal perspectives they hold.  Isaac Kardon examined the political elements of this story, including how China is simultaneously working to consolidate physical control in the South China Sea and engage its neighbors diplomatically, and all the while working to reshape the norms of the law of the sea to reflect their preferences.

Photos from the Event

From the Archives: Just Fifteen Books on China?

It would be a delightful summer diversion. What China-watcher wouldn’t relish an assignment to select fifteen good books to introduce general readers to contemporary China? It promised to be easy. After all, I had recently reviewed the state of the art while my wife and I were working on our last book, China Today (Harvard Magazine, February 1975, Page 31). And the assignment would be worthwhile, spurring me to catch up on a flurry of new books. I had visions of days spent reading in the hammock or on the beach, and the evenings devoted to the new parlor game of challenging fellow Sinologues to name their fifteen favorites…

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A Year End Letter

Dear Friend,

As we begin the New Year, we at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute would like to express our gratitude for your continued support. We would also like to take this opportunity to provide a brief synopsis of our activities over the past year. 2016 has been a wonderful and ambitious time at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute!  

We began the year auspiciously, welcoming labor law expert Mr. Huang Leping as a Visiting Scholar for the month of February. While at NYU he studied the U.S. legal system, meeting with judges, scholars and other individuals in mutually beneficial legal exchanges.
Spring blossomed on a high note in April with an immensely popular public dialogue with Joshua Wong, Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution Activist. He spoke about the foundation of the student activist group Scholarism in 2011, which was heavily involved in the protests against the introduction of Moral and National Education into Hong Kong school curricula in 2012. 
In March, we welcomed Ms. Masako Mori, Minister of Women's Empowerment and Child-Rearing in Japan, for one of our weekly lunch dialogues. In total, we held over 33 weekly lunches hosted by USALI Faculty Director Jerome A. Cohen. We also coordinated 20 special events including a conversation with Jenny Yang, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and welcomed many visiting delegations including one from East China University of Political Science and Law, led by ECUPL’s President, Professor Ye Qing.  Throughout the year, Professor Cohen and USALI-affiliated scholar, NYU Adjunct Professor Peter Dutton of the U.S. Naval War College, also convened multiple meetings and roundtable discussions concerning the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the disputes in the South China and East China Seas, both anticipating and then analyzing the Philippines arbitration decision handed down July 12, 2016.
Over the summer we kept busy with our institute projects and finalizing the details for our forthcoming bilingual publications on best practices to avoid false confessions during police interrogation and protecting individual’s rights during pre-trial release and detention decision-making. Keep an eye on our website in the New Year for updates. We also began preparations for our workshops in China on criminal justice, labor law, anti-discrimination law and professional responsibility for lawyers, scheduled for December 2016 and January 2017.
We spent a productive October with a group of Chinese visiting scholars to share experiences relating to wrongful convictions in the United States, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Meetings with experts from the U.S. Innocence Project, as well as the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan, proved an excellent opportunity for U.S. and Asian experts to learn about how to prevent and redress wrongful convictions. One of the highlights of the visit was a tour of New York City’s state-of-the-art DNA laboratory. Also in October, USALI-affiliated scholar Aaron Halegua published a major report on labor rights in China. Based on over 100 interviews, observations of legal proceedings, and extensive documentary research, Who Will Represent China’s Workers? Lawyers, Legal Aid, and the Enforcement of Labor Rights examines the legal violations suffered by workers, the range of legal service providers, and how workers fare in litigation. 
In November, we held our 22nd Annual Timothy A. Gelatt Memorial Dialogue on the Rule of Law in East Asia. This year we focused on the recent Philippine arbitration award and invited maritime law experts from several countries to participate. USALI-affiliated scholar Professor Peter Dutton and Visiting Scholar Isaac Kardon, both of the U.S.-Naval War College, helped to steer this fascinating dialogue. You can watch the entire event on our website.
December and January have brought a series of activities, meetings, and workshops in China for the Institute. With experts including Professors Sida Liu, Randy Hertz, Paulette Caldwell, Cynthia Estlund, Erin Murphy and Brandon Garrett, we held legal exchanges with Chinese experts at Chinese law schools on labor law, anti-discrimination, professional responsibilities of lawyers, and criminal justice.
Lastly, this year also saw many changes at the Institute. Having completed her JSD degree at NYU, Research Scholar Ms. Yu-jie Chen became a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute, while continuing her collaboration with Professor Cohen and other USALI scholars on the role of human rights in China-Taiwan cross-strait relations, a project sponsored by the Smith Richardson Foundation. Program Assistant Jean Lee left us to enroll in Harvard Law School. We expect great things from her. In August, we welcomed Ms. JoAnn Kim as Program Assistant, and she has been doing a wonderful job coordinating Institute logistics and weekly lunches. This December we also bade farewell to Administrative and Program Director Trinh D. Eng. Trinh joined USALI in 2011, and her guidance has been instrumental in helping USALI to grow into the organization it is today. We are sad to see her go, but happy to know that she will still be in the NYU family, just a few short blocks away. Mr. Eli Blood-Patterson (J.D. ’14) took the helm of Program Manager this December, and has hit the ground running. Come January, we expect to welcome Mr. Allen Clayton-Greene (LLM ’14), as a Research Scholar. 
As we begin 2017, we remain committed to our mission to promote constructive engagement with Asian partners to advocate for legal reform in Asia and the United States.  This goal can only be accomplished with the support and active participation of our colleagues and friends around the globe. Please consider making a gift to the U.S.-Asia Law Institute.

With your continued support, we look forward to another successful year!
Warm regards,
Ira Belkin
Executive Director
U.S.-Asia Law Institute


International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

Saturday, December 10, 2016

By Jerome A. Cohen

Reports about human rights advocates in China suffering in detention and abuse such as this one on Hada, an Inner Mongolian dissident and this one on rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang certainly inspire feelings of sadness and even hopelessness. Yet the odd thing is that many Chinese human rights lawyers and other advocates continue to enter the fray, even though now fully aware of the potential consequences. Efforts are gradually being made to learn what makes them tick. Infectious Western political ideology? Religion, Eastern or Western? The psychology of martyrdom?

Some even now maintain that the numbers of human rights activists are growing, a claim that is plainly difficult to verify. It all reminds me of the situation in South Korea in the ‘70s under General Park while China was still in Cultural Revolution. The late Kim Dae-jung seemed to be motivated by Jeffersonian democracy, indeed believed that the tree of liberty has to be periodically nourished by the blood of patriots, and was prepared to die for the cause, as he almost did on at least three occasions. He was also a devout Roman Catholic and strongly supported by his highly religious wife. South Korea, well over a decade later, experienced a stressful but largely peaceful revolution, and Dae-jung was liberated, vindicated and empowered.

Prospects for his Chinese heirs seem very gloomy at present. Yet, as we mark International Human Rights Day today, we should admire them, wish them well and hope that the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which was adopted with considerable pre-1949 Chinese input, will soon prevail in China too.