On Thursday, October 31, 2013 Professor Cohen sat down with Professor Frank Upham, Wilf Family Professor of Property Law and USALI co-director at the NYU School of Law, and Mr. Shitong Qiao, USALI Research Scholar and J.S.D. Candidate at Yale Law School, to discuss their views on contemporary Chinese property rights topics and property law in general.
During the lunch, Professor Upham described how he became interested in Chinese property rights. The turn toward China marks his latest focus of inquiry in a career-long interest in law and society, particularly the extent to which global practice can help us rethink existing theory on the relationship between property rights and the law. Having studied many diverse regions, including Japan, Cambodia and China, he is now working on a book that investigates the evolution of property law across many regions, beginning with the enclosure movement in England in the sixteenth century.
Mr. Shitong Qiao, who is now in his fourth year in Yale’s J.S.D. program, introduced his fieldwork in Shenzhen, the birthplace of China's market economy and urban land use reform. Mr. Qiao advised the Shenzhen municipal government on land reform and urbanization during his one-year fieldwork there. His research on small properties in Shenzhen has been accepted by the Canadian Journal of Law and Society and as a book chapter to be published by Cambridge University Press. He also detailed his approach toward studying Chinese property rights, which combines law and economic theories with on-the-ground observation and participation.
In addition, Professor Upham and Mr. Qiao discussed their ongoing collaboration, a project that examines the evolution of land rights in a rapidly changing world. In answering questions from the audience, both speakers proposed an integrated and dynamic approach to understanding property rights in China, which emphasizes the crucial roles of community-building and the establishment of political power for all stakeholders involved in the process of owning and transferring land.