FACES 2019 Telesummit Report: American and Chinese Legal Systems and Practices - Past, Present, and Future

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On Friday, May 3, the Stanford University and Zhejiang University chapters of the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) held a telesummit on “American and Chinese Legal Systems and Practices: Past, Present, and Future.” FACES is an international organization based at Stanford University, representing a global network of professionals, scholars, and leaders who are shaping their respective fields in the United States and China.

 During the telesummit, speakers from the two universities and students from Stanford, Zhejiang, and Fudan Universities compared American and Chinese legal systems and practices over video conferencing. Speakers from Stanford University included Dr. Mei Gechlik, founder of the China Guiding Cases Project (CGCP), Mr. Hongbo Hei, former Senior Legal Counsel at Tencent, and Dr. Adrien Gabellon, lecturer at the University of Geneva. Speakers from Zhejiang University included Mr. Hao Lan and Ms. Qing Wu, PhD candidates in intellectual property at the university’s Guanghua Law School.

 During the opening remarks and guided discussion sessions, Dr. Gechlik spoke about the importance of China’s guiding cases and Mr. Hei compared legal education between the two countries, while Dr. Gabellon discussed cross-border transactions and attempts at international collaboration between the U.S. and China. Mr. Lan and Ms. Wu examined the impact of new, highly sophisticated technology such as “deepfake” on intellectual property law and the broader U.S.-China relationship.

 “I found it so fascinating that the American and Chinese laws that have to do with the same issues are still based on different cultural understandings, and a seemingly simple issue like data protection is actually a highly controversial and political international issue,” said Stanford undergraduate Catherine Baron.

 The telesummit closed with a Q&A session between students and speakers. During the Q&A session, students from both sides of the video call asked speakers about topics such as the relationship between China’s Belt and Road initiative and international law, or advice for Chinese international students seeking legal education in the United States.

 “Thanks to the telesummit, I had the opportunity to get to know the students at Stanford and better understand the different legal systems between China and the United States,” said Fudan University undergraduate Haoran Tao.

The Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) is currently accepting student delegate applications for its 2019-20 Annual Summit, which will bring forty extraordinary students from around the world together to learn about and discuss U.S.-China relations for a week at Stanford University in Fall 2019, and then for a week in China in Spring 2020. Learn more and apply at: https://faces.stanford.edu/apply-now.

Author: James Noh ‘22, FACES Director of Telesummit (jamesnoh@stanford.edu)

AI Governance Panel: Digital Authoritarians and Cyber Policy

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China’s increased technological capacity and advocacy raise concerns about the rise of “digital authoritarians,” revealing the lack of globally-recognized cyber policy.

“A new race for global dominance has started, and, this time, it is in technology.” Recent revelations of Chinese firms’ IP thefts and the Chinese states’ zealous drive for R&D in fields like AI have sparked debates on technology’s impact in governance. Underlying these discussions are fundamental questions of access, usage and regulation that already impact businesses, policymakers, and citizens worldwide. How is the Chinese state leveraging technology to govern its people? What are the international rules governing cyber behavior? To unpack these themes, FACES in February hosted a panel with cyber policy expert Christopher Painter and UC Berkeley research scientist XIAO Qiang. The panel welcomed 50 attendees from the Stanford student community. Following are the key takeaways from the panel:

Beijing has increased efforts to consolidate its vision of cyber governance at home—and to promote that vision abroad. Domestically, next-generation IT such as AI and smart cities have increased the state capabilities in surveillance and crime punishment, allowing “a small number of people [to control] a larger population.” Through the Belt and Road Initiative, he asserts technologies once deemed “liberating” have given rise to a wave of “digital authoritarian states.” With respect to the Internet, China is also becoming more proactive in the international policy realm. China is engaging in cyber dialogues and capacity building for Internet control with developing countries. the drive to tighten cyberspace reflects goals of economic growth and social stability. It also reflects heightened concerns for legitimacy among Chinese policymakers since Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election. 

One must view cyber governance within the international order.  “Cyber policy” concerns not only international security, but also international norms. Former US president Obama made multiple efforts to emphasize the need for a shared cyber policy framework with president Xi. At stake are rules of conflict—not attacking non-combatants, but also rights—the freedom of the Internet. In this vein, he argues that China’s export controls threaten the open values and multilateral stakeholder nature of the Internet. 

Discussions surrounding cyber governance are constantly evolving with differences in each side’s understanding. In the US-China context, the same rhetoric may have different meanings. For example, Chinese policymakers emphasize information control when discussing cybersecurity. In addition, there are divisions between key Chinese agencies in charge of cyber policymaking—the People’s Liberation Army, Ministry of Science and Technology and the Cyberspace Administration of China. Regardless, one should expect more coordination in the future. The 2015 Cyber Agreement presents promising steps for a high-level joint dialogue mechanism between the United States and China on fighting cybercrime, economic IP theft and related issues. Yet, discussions have halted, reflecting how international frameworks are also subject to the changing climates of state-to-state relations. 

The audience Q & A provided a chance for further reflection and exploration. Attendees expressed concerns of how technology can jeopardize civil liberties even in democratic contexts. While fundamental differences might justify numerous cyber practices, both panelists underscored the need to proceed from an understanding of facts as a way forward. Regarding US-China technological tensions, Painter attributes the cause not to the US government, but increased public concerns, a reminder of the importance of separating issues into time periods. As Beijing realizes the vulnerability that comes with more technological capacity, however, China may become more a responsible stakeholder in international cyber governance.

Author: Catherine Baron ‘21, FACES President (catherinebaron@stanford.edu)

 

FACES 2019 Telesummit Report: Pressing Trade Tensions, A Joint US-China Dialogue

Even before his presidential election in 2016, President Trump has criticized China for its unfair trade practices. His calls for protective measures against Chinese imports were finally put into action in July 2018 in the form of tariffs, kicking off the current US-China trade war as we know it, with the Chinese government responding in turn with tariffs on US products.

In light of trade tensions between the US and China, the 2019 FACES Stanford-Peking University Telesummit was organized with the aim of exploring the far-reaching political and economic consequences of the escalating trade war between the United States and China. Through the use of video conference technology, we connected professors and students from Stanford and Peking University to spark meaningful dialogue between stakeholders on both sides of the table.

We wondered: What is the long-term economic impact of the trade war on China, the United States, and other countries? Do mutually beneficial solutions to resolve trade tensions exist? If the U.S.-China trade war persists, who will ultimately prevail and who will surrender? In this trade war, is there even a clear winner to begin with; that is, will both countries inevitably “lose” in certain ways? How will the trade war affect the future of U.S.-China relations?

On the Stanford side, we were joined by Nicholas Hope from the Stanford Center for International Development and Thomas Fingar from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, who provided a brief timeline on the economic reasons for the trade war, citing promise fatigue and the trade imbalance. While they conceded both countries would suffer from the trade war, with lower and middle classes impacted the most, they argued that businesses internationally had long been negatively impacted by lack of regulation when trading with China, and that the trade war was inevitable.

Meanwhile, on the Peking University side, we were joined by professors Wang Yong and Wang Dong, both professors in the school of international studies who believed the trade war took on a much more political nature for China. They cited news in anti-China rhetoric that have been gaining traction, such as when President Trump’s top trade advisor Peter Navarro stated that trade with China was a “zero-sum game” with only one winner. They argued that the prevalence of such rhetoric mobilized support for a trade war, spurring Trump to make the decision to tariff; and, that by making plans to compromise later in trade meetings, President Trump would put himself in a better light for re-election in 2020.

After the professors provided a knowledge base, the floor opened up so that students and faculty could ask each other questions. Students at Stanford were curious about how the trade war impacted the day-to-day life of Chinese citizens and students, learning that the trade war may have an impact on access to US websites and media in China. Meanwhile, Chinese students were concerned about the consequences for student and work visas when applying to universities in the United States.

It was clear from the discussion that the trade war was a far more complicated topic than could be addressed within two hours. However, the telesummit provided a starting point to draw new connections and spark further discussion. From a distance of over 5,000 miles, students and faculty were able to discuss the ramifications of the trade war with each other. Participants came to the conclusion that businesses in the US and China would both benefit most from a stable relationship between the US and China, and thus the trade war would likely be short-lived. Generally, we left optimistic that a solution would be reached.

As a freshman student in the audience of my first-ever telesummit, it was eye-opening to see how technology could be used to connect perspectives from over 5,000 miles away. I left with a deeper understanding of how complicated trade relations could be, as well as an eagerness to participate in more discussions. As an organizer of the event, I learned a lot about communicating with professors, developing a topic of discussion, and other behind-the-scenes efforts. Many thanks to fellow 2019 FACES telesummit team members for all their work to put together such a valuable event: Yanqiu Wang, James Noh, and VP of telesummit Cami Katz.

If you’re interested in more opportunities for cross-cultural communication and learning, look out for the next Telesummit and more FACES events in the spring! We’ll explore additional topics in US-China relations, including law cases, technology, and censorship.

Author: Vivian Auduong ‘22, Operations Team (auduong@stanford.edu)

Introducing the 2019-20 Stanford FACES Executive Team

Members of the FACES team pose for a collegial photo at the FACES Annual Team Retreat. Pictured from left to right, front row: Stone Yang, Alice Yanqiu Wang, James Noh, Jiayi Li, Helynna Lin. Back row: Cathy Baron, Charlie Hoffs, Celia Xinuo Chen, Nick Shankar, Frédéric Urech, Troy Shen. Photographer: Eric Kuang.

Members of the FACES team pose for a collegial photo at the FACES Annual Team Retreat. Pictured from left to right, front row: Stone Yang, Alice Yanqiu Wang, James Noh, Jiayi Li, Helynna Lin. Back row: Cathy Baron, Charlie Hoffs, Celia Xinuo Chen, Nick Shankar, Frédéric Urech, Troy Shen. Photographer: Eric Kuang.

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA: The Forum for American/Exchange at Stanford University (FACES) recently unveiled its new leadership team for the 2019-20 calendar year, as the organization prepares to organize its flagship Annual Summit at Stanford this fall.

Outgoing co-presidents Celia Xinuo Chen '20 and Nikhil Shankar '20 appointed Vice President of Finance Catherine Baron '21 and Vice President of On-Campus Programming Zhenqi Hu '21 as the new co-presidents for the 2019-20 calendar year. Celia and Nikhil will stay on as mentors working on Alumni Relations and Communications in the upcoming year.

“As China grows increasingly important on the global stage, facilitating good-faith dialogue and exchange between young leaders on both sides of the Pacific is more critical than ever,” Nikhil stated. “Celia and I have been honored to work with and learn from amazing delegates and students over the past year, and we are confident Catherine and Zhenqi will be extraordinary leaders.”

On-Campus Programming executive member Stone Yang '22 was chosen as the new Vice President of On-Campus Programming, replacing Zhenqi. Replacing Catherine as Vice President of Finance will be Finance executive member Eric Kuang ‘22. On-Campus Programming executive member Jiayi Li ‘22 was chosen as Vice President of Operations, and Communications executive member Cathy Wang ‘21 will serve as Vice President of Communications. Alumni Relations executive member Emma Bowers ‘22 was chosen as Vice President of Alumni Relations for 2019-20, replacing Caroline Zhang ‘21, who will take on a new position as Director of Institutional Partnerships. Zecheng Wang ‘21 will remain as Director of Chapter Relations, while Finance executive member Dongming Zhang ‘22 will serve as the new Director of Recruitment. James Noh ‘22 was selected as Director of FACES’s innovative Telesummit Programming division, replacing Cami Katz ‘21, who will serve as Director of Development. Serving as Financial Officer for 2019-20 will be Frédéric Urech ‘22, who brings a wide range of experience from three continents.

Additionally, leading FACES’s new publication division will be Jiyoung Jeong ‘21 and Clara Spars ‘21, who co-founded the FACES Magazine last year. Serving as Creative Director of the FACES Magazine will be Charlie Hoffs ‘22, a current editor of the magazine.

“The relationship between the United States and China rests on the exchange between their people, and Zhenqi and I are excited to work with our team in the upcoming year to connect young leaders across the world to engage with the most critical issues of our time,” Catherine stated. “Our community of change-makers is international, reflecting the far-reaching impact of this bilateral relationship.”

The FACES executive team is diverse, experienced, and committed. Hailing from Seattle to Shanghai, and with interests ranging from Political Science to Philosophy, executive members bring a wealth of perspectives to their work. Executive members will collaborate with FACES's 405 Stanford student affiliates, faculty advisors, current Summit delegates, and over 875 alumni to further the organization's mission of strengthening U.S.-China relations through vibrant intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange.

FACES is always looking for committed, motivated Stanford undergraduates and graduates to join our executive team of students and sponsors working to facilitate intellectual, academic, and interpersonal exchange across the Pacific. You can apply to join FACES's executive team by completing the form at this link, or by emailing our organization at recruitment.faces@stanford.edu.

“Chatting About China” —Harvard Professor Discusses Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign at FACES

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STANFORD, CALIFORNIA: The Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) and the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia–Pacific Research Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI APARC) co-hosted a “Chatting About China” event with Yuhua Wang, Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University. Held at Stanford’s historic Encina Hall, the event provided an intimate and relaxed environment for students to ask Professor Wang about his work and a variety of issues in China.

Wang’s research focuses on the emergence of state institutions, with a regional focus on China. He is the author of Tying the Autocrat’s Hands: The Rise of the Rule of Law in China, and he is currently working on a book-length project examining long-term state development in China.

President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign began in 2012 and is the largest campaign of its kind since the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China. Much debate surrounds the motivation behind the campaign, with some arguing that it is meant to further Xi’s political interests while others contend that it is a sincere effort to reduce corruption.

Wang stated that the empirical question regarding the campaign’s effectiveness is whether it can reduce not just corruption within the current system, but also corruption in the future. He identifies this as the fundamental problem of any campaign: it can be effective in the short-term, but have unclear long-term effects.

Students from across campus asked a variety of questions about the campaign’s current and future state, broader issues in China, and Wang’s research. Three key areas of concerns emerge regarding anti-corruption campaigns: the motives behind the campaign, the role of rule of law and the media, and public opinions of the government due to such campaigns.

Motives Behind Xi’s Campaign

On the motives behind the campaign, Wang said that Xi’s campaign is about succession. According to Wang, anti-corruption campaigns are a very common political strategy for attacking the enemy and consolidating power and has been used historically in China by new leaders. By abolishing term limits and not naming a successor, Xi was able to consolidate his power and use his anti-corruption campaign as leverage to maintain support.

“My working hypothesis is that the anti-corruption campaign is actually a collective and also intentional attempt by the 'royal' families to take over,” said Wang. “They want to take the power back from the meritocratically promoted leaders within the party.”

The Roles of the Courts and Media

Professor Yuhua Wang speaks on Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign with FACES at Stanford’s Encina Hall.

Professor Yuhua Wang speaks on Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign with FACES at Stanford’s Encina Hall.

Several students asked about the role of the media and the courts in the campaign. Wang said that investigations begin with the party, are then publicized in the media, and finally are selectively handed to court, though this does not happen with most cases as the party often wants to protect its members. As a result, the courts are largely irrelevant, but the media plays a big role, according to Wang. He talked about how the level of detail in coverage of the corruption investigations is unprecedented with certain high-level party officials such as Bo Xilai, the former Minister of Commerce of the PRC and governor of Chongqing.

“[Because of this, the campaign] kind of backfires, because people realize that the party officials are more corrupt than they thought,” said Wang. “When people are exposed to the news on the media, they will actually decrease their support for the party because they are shocked by the amount of corruption in the government particularly on the higher level.”

Criticism of the Government Might Be Exaggerated

Regarding his research on politically sensitive topics, Wang talked about the obstacles he has faced, such as being unable to ask certain questions or know whether respondents are truthful. He also pointed out some interesting findings of false reporting of opinions, particularly among Chinese university students.

“The idea is that they might lie to you, they might overreport support of regime because they have a fear of [being watched by the party],” said Wang. “Recent study shows that it’s actually the opposite—that is when you do surveys with college students, they will over-report criticism [of the party] because they want to appear cool. For college students it’s cool to be critical, rather than nationalistic, because being critical shows that you are a real intellectual.”

After speaking with FACES in the morning, Wang delivered a lecture in the afternoon titled Why Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Has Undermined Chinese Citizens’ Regime Support? about his research on China’s public reaction to the campaign. He presented his hypothesis that the anti-corruption campaign, usually a method of gaining public support, has in fact reduced support for the Communist Party and government by revealing the extent of corruption, although it may have increased support for Xi himself. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with the audience.


Author: Emily Wan ‘22, FACES Department of Communications