Since 1999, the Paul Tsai China Center has initiated and steadily expanded collaborative projects with a range of institutions and individuals in China, including the courts, administrative departments, the legislature, leading universities, scholars, and lawyers. The Center’s current projects are focused on judicial reform, administrative law, policy and regulatory reform, criminal law and procedure, civil society and public interest law, constitutional law, and legal education. Our projects promote the Center's mission in a variety of ways.
 

  • Exchange and cooperation programs in areas of law and policy help promote China’s reform process, increase understanding about China in the United States, and further improve China–U.S. relations.
  • The Center’s cooperative projects with key legal institutions and reformers in China provide us with unique opportunities to observe and analyze developments in China’s legal and political system.
  • An extensive program of publications, lectures, public testimony, and other outreach activities communicate our insights to policymakers, academics, and the broader public.
  • The Center’s support of research and training deepens the understanding of the Chinese legal and political system while increasing capacity in the United States for effective future interaction with China.


Center faculty regularly teach at the Law School, with courses that are typically open to others in the Yale community. These have included courses in U.S. Foreign Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy and Law, a weekly workshop on China-related issues, as well as supervision of individual students’ research projects. In Spring 2016, China Center faculty is teaching the Contemporary China Research Seminar at Yale Law School, in which students  produce original research on issues of U.S.–China relations or Chinese legal reform.

In combining cooperative law reform projects with research and education in a mutually reinforcing way, the Paul Tsai China Center is playing a unique role, and its work has established a significant new channel between China and the United States.

It is now widely accepted in China that the judicial system must be reformed if it is to play an essential role as China develops a market economy, experiences a growing consciousness of legal rights, and develops fair, efficient, and predictable institutions to settle disputes and check bureaucratic power. China’s Supreme People’s Court has taken a number of positive steps in recent years to increase the transparency of court proceedings, strengthen the authority and professionalism of judges, encourage more active participation by litigants and their lawyers, and advance fair and evenhanded decision-making. However, lack of judicial independence, poor training, deficient litigation procedures, inadequate protections for criminal suspects and defendants, reliance on local governments for personnel and funding, and corruption, among other factors, have continued to undermine the courts’ ability to handle cases fairly and efficiently.

While extensive and fundamental reforms are still needed, more narrow reforms can also improve China’s courts in important ways. Since its founding, our Center has been working with key institutions and individuals in China — including the courts — to help promote judicial reform and make this a priority area of our work. This includes institutional reform in areas such as judicial transparency and precedential cases; administrative litigation reform involving disputes between citizens and the government; and criminal justice work covering a range of important issues that implicate judicial justice and protection of human rights.

Administrative law, policy, and regulatory reform in China involve an exceptionally broad range of issues concerning the relationship between individual citizens and the state. It is a potentially key means of increasing the openness, fairness, predictability, and democratic responsiveness of China’s vast bureaucracies in their pervasive involvement with individuals and organizations.

The Center’s projects in this area have focused both on the building blocks of administrative law, including laws related to licensing, administrative dispute resolution, and procedure; on regulatory reforms in areas such as food and drug safety; and on reforms and discussions designed to help transform citizen-state relations, particularly in terms of public participation in policymaking and open government information. We have worked on these issues with Chinese government, academic, and civil society partners at both national and local levels.

In addition to our focus on transparency, public participation, regulatory reform, and accountability, our research and cooperative projects also address the emerging legal framework for government–civil society partnerships that promote access to justice and engage the participation of the non-governmental sector in providing social services.

Criminal law and procedure reform in China involves a wide range of important issues that implicate judicial justice and protection of human rights. These include criminal procedure law reform; sentencing reform; developing standards of evidence; preventing coerced confessions; strengthening defense counsel; protecting the rights of juvenile offenders and the mentally ill; addressing procedures for minor crimes; and developing alternatives to incarceration, including the creation and improved use of community-based corrections programs.

These issues are extremely important and remain highly sensitive in China. Our Center’s projects have focused on efforts by legislatures, scholars, lawyers, and advocates to help promote reforms to improve fairness, effectiveness, and rights-protection in China’s criminal justice system.

With the development of China’s legal system and growing rights consciousness among Chinese citizens, new opportunities have emerged for Chinese lawyers, advocates, and non-governmental organizations to play a larger role in public interest advocacy and civil rights enforcement in areas from anti-discrimination to consumer protection. Our Center has worked with a range of government, academic, and civil society partners on improving the regulatory framework for civil society development and building capacity for rights advocacy.

The Center’s projects have covered a variety of issues including government–civil society partnerships, social service delivery, legal advocacy, and gender, elder, disability and LGBT rights, among other areas. The increasing attention devoted to such issues by Chinese government and non-government actors reflects the dynamic development of civil society and public interest law in China.

In the past, most observers have viewed China’s Constitution as largely irrelevant to concrete legal and policy issues in China. Recent developments, however, indicate that the Chinese Constitution is becoming more significant in legal reform and is also drawing more attention to broader civil rights protections. Though still a sensitive topic in China, discussions about constitutionalism and constitutional review are at an important crossroads. Even in the absence of institutions to independently enforce constitutional requirements, constitutional law is developing in China largely through the emergence of popular support for it and through the invocation of China’s Constitution in policy and legal argument.

The Center’s continuing work on judicial review, courts, the media and public opinion, and public interest law has created new opportunities to contribute to emerging reforms in the area of constitutional law and constitutional enforcement.

Online Resources


The Paul Tsai China Center has begun to make available online articles, documents, and other research collected as part of our ongoing projects in China. Some of these documents have been translated into English. Please see the following sections:

China joined the roughly 70 countries with access to information regimes in adopting its Open Government Information Regulations, which came into effect May 1, 2008 (see the 2008 global map of countries with freedom of information laws, regulations and pending bills by David Banisar.) Preceded by some 25 years of incremental and uneven progress toward greater government transparency, China’s OGI Regulations nonetheless mark a sharp break with a long tradition -- and a still strong culture -- of government secrecy.

As part of the Paul Tsai China Center’s ongoing research and cooperative work in the area of administrative law and regulatory reform, this site is designed to share information both about the development of open government information (OGI) in China and international practice and experience that may be of relevance to China’s quest to promote transparency in government and more law-based administration.

Chinese Law and Policy on Open Government Information

Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Open Government Information, April 5, 2007, effective May 1, 2008 (Chinese | English)

Press Conference with State Council Office of Legislative Affairs Vice Minister Zhang Qiong about the Regulations on Open Government Information, April 24, 2007 (Chinese)

Notice of the General Office of the State Council On Preparing Well for Implementing the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Open Government Information, August 4, 2007 (Chinese | English)

Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Various Issues of Implementing the Open Government Information Regulations of the People’s Republic of China, April 29, 2008 (Chinese | English)

Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Improving the Work of Disclosing Government Information Upon Request, January 12, 2010 (Chinese | English)

Notice of the General Office Secretariat Bureau of the State Council on Issuing the Open Government Information Catalog System Implementing Guide (Interim), January 15, 2009 (Chinese

Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Further Improving Secrecy Examination in Open Government Information Work, November 20, 2010 (Chinese | English)

Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Further Strengthening Open Government Information Responding to Social Concerns in order to Raise Government Credibility, October 1, 2013 (Chinese)

Notice of the General Office of the State Council Issuing the 2014 Open Government Information Work Priorities, March 17, 2014 (Chinese

Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Strengthening and Standardizing Reporting Work for Statistics on the Open Government Information Situation, June 23, 2014 (Chinese)

Notice of the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission on Fees Collected for Providing Open Government Information and Other Relevant Issues, June 11, 2008 (Chinese | English)

Notice of the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance on the Standards for Fees Collected
by AdministrativeOrgans for Providing Open Government Information upon Request and Other Relevant Issues, July 16, 2008 (Chinese | English)

Opinions of the General Offices of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China on Further Promoting Open Government Affairs, March 24, 2005 (Chinese | English)

 

Local Legislation on Open Government Infomation

Hangzhou Municipal Provisions on Open Government Information (Chinese | English

Measures of Hunan Province to Implement the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Open Government Information (Chinese | English)

Shanghai Municipal Provisions on Open Government Information (Chinese | English)

 

Articles on Chinese OGI

Jamie P. Horsley, “China’s FOIA Turns Eight,” Freedominfo.org, April 28, 2016, at: http://www.freedominfo.org/2016/04/chinas-foia-turns-eight/. (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, “China Promotes Open Government as it Seeks to Reinvent Its Governance Model,” Freedominfo.org, February 22, 2016, at: http://www.freedominfo.org/2016/02/china-promotes-open-government-as-it-seeks-to-reinvent-its-governance-model/. (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, “China’s Leaders Endorse Disclosure as the `Norm’," on Freedominfo.org, posted November 4, 2014 at: http://www.freedominfo.org/2014/11/chinas-leaders-endorse-disclosure-norm/ (English)

Jamie P. Horsley, "China Deepens Its Disclosure Regime," on Freedominfo.org, posted April 4, 2014 at here.

Zhao Zhenqun, New Progress of Open Government Information in China (2012-2014), China Law 2014/3 (Chinese | English)

Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports, An Investigative Report on Judicial Review of Open Government Information Cases in China (October 2013) (Chinese | English)

Wenjing Liu, “Approaching Democracy Through Transparency: A Comparative Law Study On Chinese Open Government Information,”  Am. U. Int’l L. Rev. (Vol. 26(4), 2011, at 983), at here. (PDF)  

Wenjing Liu, “Government Information Sharing:  Principles, Practice, and Problems — An International Perspective,”  Gov’t Info. Quarterly (Vol.28, Issue 3, July 2011, at 363)  at here.

Nolan R. Shaw, “Implementation of China’s 2007 Open Government Information Regulation,” Hastings Bus. L. J. (Vol 7:1, Winter 2011, at 169) at here.

Jamie P. Horsley, Guanyu zhengfu xinxi mianyu gongkai dianxing tiaokuan de sikao [Some Thoughts on Typical Exemptions for Government Information Disclosure], in Zhengzhi yu falv [Politics and Law], Issue 3, 2009, at 37. (Chinese | English)

Jin, Xuemei, “Providing government information and services in the Chinese public library,” submitted on May 28, 2009 to the World Library And Information Congress: 75th Ifla General Conference And Council, available at here. (PDF)

Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports, “Summary of the 2009 Annual Report on China’s Administrative Transparency,” (English | Chinese)

Thomas Hart, ed., "EU-China Information Society Project: Access to Government Information in Europe and China: What Lessons to be Learned?” (November 2007), (English PDF | Chinese PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, “Toward a More Open China,” in FLORINI, ANN, ed., THE RIGHT TO KNOW: TRANSPARENCY FOR AN OPEN WORLD (Columbia University Press, 2007) (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, "China Adopts First Nationwide Open Government Information Regulations," on Freedominfo.org, posted May 9, 2007. (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, "Update on China's Open Government Information Regulations: Surprising Public Demand Yielding Some Positive Results ," on Freedominfo.org, posted April 23, 2010 at here, (PDF

Paul Hubbard, “China’s Regulations on Open Government Information: Challenges of Nationwide Policy Implementation,” Open Government: a journal on Freedom of Information (Volume 4, Issue 1, April 11, 2008) (PDF)

Mo Yuchuan and Lin Hongchao, “Research Report on Preparations to Implement the Open Government Information Regulations: Investigating in Particular the Experience of Jiangsu, Fujian, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces,” Faxue (Issue 6 2008) (Chinese PDF of Submitted Article)

Suzanne J. Piotrowski, Yahong Zhang, Weiwei Lin and Wenxuan Yu, “Key Issues for Implementation of Chinese Open Government Information Regulations,” Public Administration Review (December 2009), available online at here.

Rick Snell and Weibing Xiao, “Freedom of Information Returns to China,” Public Administration Today (Jan-March 2007),  (PDF)

 

Materials on Access to Information in the United States and Around the World

Jamie Horsley and Can Sun, “Information Disclosure Requirements and Issues for Universities in the United States: Letting Sunshine into the Ivory Tower,” published in Chinese as «Meiguo daxue de xinxi gongkai de yaoqiu ji wenti», in the «Zhonggong zhejiangshengwei dangxiao xuebao »( Journal of the Zhejiang Provincial Communist Party School), Issue 5, 2014. (English) (Chinese

Article 19, Model Freedom of Information Law (July 2001), (PDF)

Article 19, “The Public’s Right to Know: Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation,” (June 1999) (PDF)

Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right to Access to Information (February 2008), (PDF English) (PDF Chinese)

David Banisar, Freedom of Information Around the World 2006: A Global Survey of Access to Government Information Laws, (PDF)

Toby Mendel, “Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey” (2nd Edition 2008) in Chinese, translated by Professor Gong Wenxiang of Peking University, at here (Chinese), and English at here (English)

Mitchell W. Pearlman, “Freedom of Information,” 2007 (English | Chinese)

Thomas M. Susman, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: E-Government and the People’s Right to Know,” Reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. LXVIII, No. 2; November 1, 2001 (English) and Jiaoliu Magazine at 53 (2002) (Chinese)

United Nations Development Programme, “Right to Information: Practical Guidance Note” (July 2004), (PDF)

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, June 25, 1998 (referred to as the “Aarhus Convention”),  (English) and Chinese translation (official UN Chinese translation)

United States Department of Justice Office of Information and Privacy, “OIP Gives FOIA Implementation Advice to Other Nations,” FOIA Post, (2002) (English | Chinese)

United States White House, President Barack Obama Memorandum on Freedom of Information, January 21, 2009 (English | Chinese)

United States White House, President Barack Obama Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, January 21, 2009 (English | Chinese)

United States White House, President Barack Obama Memorandum on Regulatory Compliance, January 18, 2011 (English | Chinese)

Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder Memorandum on The Freedom of Information Act, March 19, 2009 (English | Chinese)

 

Relevant Websites

Access Info Europe, http://www.access-info.org/

Carter Center, Access to Information Project, http://www.cartercenter.org/peace/americas/information.html

Carter Center, China Transparency.org, http://www.chinatransparency.org/

Carter Center, Open Government Information in China Homepage, http://www.chinaelections.net/ati.asp (in English)

Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports, Professor Wang Xixin, Peking University Law School, http://www.cppss.cn/ (in Chinese)

EU-China Information Society Project, http://www.eu-china-infso.org/

FOI in China, http://chinesefoi.org/ - set up by Clement Yongxi Chen

FOIAnet, http://www.foiadvocates.net/

Freedominfo.org, http://www.freedominfo.org/

Privacy International, http://www.privacyinternational.org/index.shtml, Freedom of Information Homepage

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the China Environmental Culture Promotion Association (CECPA), http://www.greenlaw.org.cn/, (Chinese) and http://www.greenlaw.org.cn/enblog (English)

Research on FOI and E-Government in China, http://foichina.blogspot.com/ -- a FOIA blog focusing on China set up by Ben Wei in Shanghai

Over the past two decades, Chinese leaders and legal scholars have come to recognize that achieving rational and effective regulation in a rapidly changing modern society requires opening up China’s lawmaking and regulatory processes to a far greater degree than ever was the case during China’s long history. Public participation – through public hearings and open meetings, publication of draft laws, rules and policies for public comment and other means – is now increasingly recognized to be an important mechanism for gathering the information and expertise on which rational regulation is based and for gaining public acceptance of and compliance with new laws and regulatory decisions.

As part of The China Law Center’s ongoing research and cooperative work in the area of administrative law and regulatory reform, this site is designed to share information both about the development of public participation in China and international practice and experience that may be of relevance to China’s quest to promote greater citizen participation in and openness of government affairs, as well as government “administration in accordance with the law.”
 

Chinese Law and Policy on Public Participation

Legislation Law of the People’s Republic of China, effective July 1, 2000, http://www.china.org.cn/english/government/207419.htm (English); http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2003-01/21/content_699610.htm (Chinese)

Regulations of the State Council on the Procedures for Formulating Rules, effective January 1, 2002, http://www.gov.cn/english/laws/2005-08/24/content_25827.htm (English), http://www.gov.cn/zwgk/2005-06/03/content_4138.htm (Chinese)

State Council Outline on Comprehensively Promoting Administration in Accordance with the Law, April 20, 2004 (Chinese)

State Council Office of Legislative Affairs Notice on Further Intensifying the Degree of Public Participation in Matters Related to Government Legislative Work, issued March 31, 2007, http://www.chinabaike.com/law/zy/bw/bs/fzb/1376475.html (Chinese)

State Council Office of Legislative Affairs Interim Measures on Openly Soliciting Opinions on Draft Laws and Regulations, revised July 22, 2011 (Chinese)

State Council Office of Legislative Affairs Secretariat Bureau Notice on Relevant Matters Concerning Posting Draft Departmental Rules on the Website of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office to Openly Solicit Opinions, August 1, 2011 (Chinese)

Guangzhou Municipal Measures on Public Participation in Formulating Rules, effective January 1, 2007 (English) (Chinese

Guangzhou Municipal Measures on Public Participation in Formulating Rules, revised and effective December 1, 2010 (Chinese)

Hunan Provincial Administrative Procedure Provisions, effective October 1, 2008 (Bilingual PDF), http://www.hunan.gov.cn/tmzf/zfxgz/200810/t20081018_123286.htm

Guangzhou Municipal Measures on Major Administrative Decision-making Procedures, effective January 1, 2011 (Chinese) (English

 

Articles on Public Participation in China

Jamie P. Horsley, “China Promotes Open Government as it Seeks to Reinvent Its Governance Model,” Freedominfo.org, February 22, 2016, at: http://www.freedominfo.org/2016/02/china-promotes-open-government-as-it-seeks-to-reinvent-its-governance-model/. (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, “Public Participation in the People’s Republic: Developing a More Participatory Governance Model in China” (2009) (PDF)

USBC, "China 2014 Regulatory Transparency Scorecard" (March 2014) (PDF)

Shelly Zhao, "Report: China Still Falls Short of Its Transparency Commitments" (March 2014) (PDF)

Shelly Zhao, "China's Mixed Transparency Record" (July 2012) (PDF)

Francesca Baruffi, "Transparency in China: A Work in Progress" (July 2011) (PDF)

Jamie P. Horsley, "Public Participation and the Democratization of Chinese Governance," in YANG ZHONG AND SHIPIN HUA, eds., POLITICAL CIVILIZATION AND MODERNIZATION: THE POLITICAL CONTEXT OF CHINA'S REFORM. (Singapore: World Scientific Press, 2006) 

Steven J. Balla (2014), "Health System Reform and Political Participation on the Chinese Internet," China Information 28(2) 214-236 http://cin.sagepub.com/content/28/2/214.abstract (PDF)

Wang Xixin, “Public Participation and its Limits: An Observation and Evaluation on Public Hearings as Experimented in China’s Administrative Process” (2003), http://www.publiclaw.cn/article/Details.asp?NewsId=220&Classid=&ClassName= (PDF)

Wang Xixin, “The Public, Expert and Government in the Public Decision-making Process: A Case Study of China's Price-Setting Hearing System and Its Practice,” Peking University Journal of Legal Studies (2008) (PDF) (with permission of the author)

 

Materials on Public Participation in the United States and Around the World

U.S. Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§551-559, 701-706 http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/5/pI.html

E.O. 12866 - Regulatory Planning and Review (1993) (English) (Chinese)

United States White House, President Barack Obama Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (English) (Chinese)

E.O. 13563 - Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review (2011) (English) (Chinese)

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, June 25, 1998 (referred to as the “Aarhus Convention”), http://www.unece.org/env/pp/documents/cep43e.pdf (English) and http://www.unece.org/env/pp/documents/chinese.pdf (official UN Chinese translation)

 

Relevant Websites

Carter Center, China Transparency.org, http://www.chinatransparency.org (in Chinese)

Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports, Public Participation Website, Professor Wang Xixin, Peking University Law School, http://www.cppss.cn (in Chinese) 

China State Council Office of Legislative Affairs Website, http://www.chinalaw.gov.cn

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the China Environmental Culture Promotion Association (CECPA), Greenlaw website, http://www.greenlaw.org.cn (Chinese) and http://www.greenlaw.org.cn/enblog (English)