Recent Events

Webcast recap: “Jack Downey, Sino-American Relations and International Law — Lessons for Today"

By Jerome A. Cohen

I gave a talk entitled “Jack Downey, Sino-American Relations and International Law — Lessons for Today" at the Woodrow Wilson Center today in Washington, DC.  It was in memory of the late distinguished historian of Sino-American relations Nancy Bernkopf Tucker and reviewed the case of my Yale college classmate Jack Downey, a CIA agent whose plane was shot down in China November 29, 1952.  

I discussed the secret, unlawful and hypocritical policy of the US Government that led to this case and the consequences for Downey and “new” China’s perception of U.S. practice of international law. The talk ended with a consideration of the relevance of the lessons learned to contemporary relations between Beijing and Washington.

The talk’s webcast recap is here: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/the-seventh-annual-nancy-bernkopf-tucker-memorial-lecture-us-east-asia-relations.

Gelatt Dialogue 2018 Video Highlights

In November 2018, the U.S.-Asia Law Institute hosted our 24th Annual Timothy A. Gelatt Memorial Dialogue on the Rule of Law in East Asia. The theme to the forum was “East Asia, America & International Law'“ with noted speakers from Asia and the United States to discuss human rights, intergovernmental and territorial disputes, and international tribunals.

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) 2018 Annual Report

(October 10, 2018) U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chair and Cochair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the Commission’s 2018 Annual Report and announced several new joint initiatives to protect U.S. citizens and residents from intimidation and address possible crimes against humanity occurring in China.

Discussing China's Belt & Road Initiative

Discussing China's Belt & Road Initiative

 On August 31, USALI affiliated scholar, Aaron Halegua, presented his research on worker exploitation in Saipan and labor abuses along China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The conference, held in Brussels, was hosted by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and co-organized by Dr. Maria Adele Carrai, a former visiting scholar (2014-2015) and Global Hauser Fellow (2016-2017) at NYU Law School.

Book Launch in China

On May 29, 2018 the U.S.-Asia Law Institute held a book launch for two the release of their two newest publications, “Questioning Police Interrogation Methods” and “The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law.” These two books are the result of many year’s work, and feature a variety of articles from leading legal scholars and practitioners about these two important and evolving fields of pretrial detention and interrogation methods.

The books feature an English language and Chinese language versions, with articles translated into Chinese by USALI staff and scholars. The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law introduces the history and practice of U.S. and Chinese pretrial release history. Meanwhile, Questioning Police Interrogation Methods offers a perspective and methods to alleviate police-induced false confessions. 


The book launch was held at Beijing Normal University, where friends of USALI, the publisher China Law Press, and contributors to the book gathered to discuss the contents and the evolution of the work itself. USALI Executive Director Ira Belkin states, “I am confident that this book’s groundbreaking research, comprehensive commentary and imaginative proposals will stimulate further law enforcement progress in China and the United States.”



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

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 of Japan among people in U.S. 

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.

NYU Law receives $5 million gift from the Government of Japan

NYU Law receives $5 million gift from the Government of Japan

NYU School of Law has announced a grant of $5 million from the Government of Japan for an endowment of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI) to ensure its long-term sustainability and to promote the use of international law to resolve conflicts and disputes in Asia.

East China University of Political Science and Law Delegation Visits USALI

On June 1, 2016, a delegation from Shanghai visited the U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI). Led by Professor Ye Qing, President of East China University of Political Science and Law, this delegation sought to learn more about institutional and legal mechanisms securing the independence of prosecutors and judges in the U.S. and Canada. USALI Executive Director Ira Belkin and Faculty Director Professor Jerome Cohen both introduced the U.S. prosecutorial system to the delegation, discussing how the principle of checks and balances helps to harness prosecutorial discretion. 

Our guests also reviewed recent reforms within the Chinese judiciary system, including moves to decoupling local government from the procuratorate and court in matters of finance and human resources. These measures ensure independence and personal responsibility for individual judges, promoting the central role the trial plays in the proceedings. 

A Conversation with Joshua Wong

April 18, 2016 - Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution Activist Joshua Wong spoke at New York University 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. He also spoke about the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests of 2014.  Joshua Wong was one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 and one of Fortune Magazine's World's 50 Greatest Leaders of 2015.  He is a founder of the political party Demosisto, which is expected to contest the upcoming Hong Kong Legislative Council elections in September 2016.

Jerome A. Cohen Speaks at AALS meeting on East Asian Law & Society.

On January 7, 2016 Professor Jerome A. Cohen spoke at the Association of American Law Schools in Tokyo. He spoke at the Section on East Asian Law and Society, which promotes learning about East Asian law and society, particularly in a comparative context; collaborates with other Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Sections on matters of common interest related to globalization and legal education; and facilitates the communication of ideas, interests and activities among members concerning legal systems in East Asia.

USALI Hosts Delegation from China's Ministry of Land and Resources on Urban Planning Study Tour

In late November, 2013, the U.S.-Asia Law Institute welcomed a delegation of Chinese government officials from the Ministry of Land and Resources interested in learning more about urban planning from U.S. academics and practitioners in New York City.

Over the course of a two-day visit organized by Professor Frank Upham, USALI co-director and Wilf Family Professor of Property Law, Mr. Shitong Qiao, USALI Research Scholar and J.S.D. candidate at Yale Law School, and Ms. Heather Han (LL.M. ’10), USALI Research Scholar, the officials met with several members of the NYU community and beyond to discuss theoretical and practical approaches to urban planning.

Presentations featured Professor Vicki Been, Boxer Family Professor of Law and Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at the NYU School of Law, who discussed transferable development rights; Professor Zhan Guo, Assistant Professor at the Wagner School at NYU, who spoke about development conflict resolution in New York City; Mr. Stephen Louis, Chief of the Legal Counsel Division of the NYC Law Department, who discussed the city’s government structure; Ms. Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Deputy Chief of the NYC Law Department, who highlighted the eminent domain issues in the city; Winston Von Engel, Deputy Director of the Brooklyn Office at the NYC Department of City Planning, who introduced the history of urban planning in NYC; and Professor Gerald Korngold, Professor of Law at New York Law School, who presented on U.S. Real Estate Transactions and Finance.

In addition, the delegation took a tour of City Hall and witnessed a public hearing at the NYC Department of City Planning.

In a letter written upon his return to China, delegation leader Mr. Lu Jing complimented the USALI team on the relevancy of the topics to the delegation’s interests, the comprehensive nature of the academics’ and practitioners’ presentations, and the overall tone of the meetings, which Mr. Lu described as “free and harmonious.”

USALI’s involvement in the organization of the delegation visit is representative of the Institute’s greater effort to increase intellectual exchanges between Chinese and American practitioners and scholars.

NCUSCR: Ira Belkin and Margaret Lewis Lead China Town Hall

On Monday, October 28, 2013 the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR) hosted its annual China Town Hall, an event that combined a webcast interview from Washington with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with on-site presentations by China specialists on topics of interest to local communities. USALI Executive Director, Ira Belkin and USALI Affiliated Scholar Margaret Lewis led two of the sixty-six on-site presentations from Fordham University and Bucknell University, respectively.

At Fordham University, Professor Belkin followed Secretary Albright’s comments on major bilateral issues such as trade, energy security, piracy, and peacekeeping with a discussion moderated by Carl Minzner, Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University, on the intersection between human rights issues and doing business in China.

Professor Belkin opened the discussion with his observation that there used to be a divide between business-related conversations about China, which involved talk about open markets and free trade, and human rights-related dialogue. Yet, with the recent surge of public confessions by prominent Chinese and foreign businessmen and journalists who have not been charged or given a trial, as dictated by Chinese law, this has begun to change. “China is using illegitimate means to shape public opinion,” Professor Belkin stated, citing the cases of Peter Humphrey, a British risk consultant who publicly confessed to using illegal methods to buy and sell personal information, Charles Xue, a Chinese-American entrepreneur and human rights advocate who publicly confessed to soliciting prostitutes, and Chen Yongzhou, a journalist who publicly confessed to defaming a partly state-owned firm in articles exposing alleged corruption. When asked to put the situation in historical context, Professor Belkin emphasized that the practice of public confessions is reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, not of China’s legal developments over the last few decades. There is no law that prohibits confessions, he elaborated, but there is a law against coerced confessions.

On the issue of progress, Professor Belkin brought up the planned abolition of China’s re-education through labor system, a practice which has been in effect for over fifty years. Yet, he cautioned, China’s progress cannot be viewed from a linear perspective. “Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps backward, or two steps forward, one step backward,” he said, admitting that he once thought that Weibo, China’s largest social media platform with over 500 million users, was the way to a “free China.” But the implementation of recent policies that label forwarded posts as “rumors” has led him to reconsider.

On what has caused these draconian policies and where China is headed, Professor Belkin posited that these new strategies are an effort on the part of the authorities to reclaim authority, but that there is no crystal ball when it comes to prophesying China’s future. It’s what he and all of the other China watchers out there are “always trying to figure out.”

At Bucknell University, Professor Lewis, Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall School of Law, focused on the Bo Xilai Case and the Rule of Law in China. Professor Lewis’ talk stimulated questions from the audience about corruption in the Party, particularly the investigation of Zhou Yongkang, the former head of China’s Central Political and Legislative Committee, a powerful organ that oversees the country’s legal enforcement authorities. Zhou has recently come under scrutiny over allegations regarding corruption at the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation.

Audience members were also interested in the role of social media in shedding light on officials' activities and the recent crackdown on Weibo.

Please click this link for more information on the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations Town Hall.