• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:12pm

China law professor blasts 'hired guns of western power' in commencement speech

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 12:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 5:26pm

Weeks after US Vice-President Joe Biden referred to China as the nation that cannot “think different” in a commencement speech, a law professor at Peking University urged his students to think very differently when mapping out their lives and careers.

Professor Jiang Shigong, in an emotionally charged address (in Chinese), warned students to shun the popular path pursued by former law graduates: to study at US law schools and climb the corporate ladder in Western firms. Instead, Jiang encouraged them to think beyond the paycheck and work towards establishing a new world order -- one with a staunch nationalistic tone. 

The old, "Hobbesian" world order is dying, but China’s law professionals have largely failed to live up to their mission at this historic moment, Jiang argued. He blamed this on an illusion held by many that “rule-of-law, constitutionalism and democracy can be achieved only in a world created by the US”.

“Would you like to become hired guns of Western capital and defend the old empire created by the US?” Jiang asked. “Or work with people of our homeland to revitalise the Chinese nation and establish a brand new world?”

“Should we destroy our history and traditions to make way for Western constitutionalism?” Jiang added, further attacking Western influence. “And do we want a fake democracy that relies on Western capital and powers? ”

The harshly worded speech also touched on a recent hot topic in China: universal values.

“Universal values are only meaningful when they are passed down as cultural heritage and become part of a nation’s civilisation,” he said. “Otherwise it's an empty word.”

Chinese universities have recently been ordered to steer clear of seven topics in their teaching, including universal values, press freedom and civil rights, a signal that ideological control under the new Communist Party leaders might be further tightening. 

Jiang cemented his speech with an enthusiastic pledge.

“Love our country and our people, believe in and protect our history and civilisation - that’s the duty of legal scholars.”

Jiang’s speech went viral on Weibo, where it was met with mixed reaction on Wednesday. While some laud his nationalistic views, others criticised his “cold-war mentality”.

“Law is about reconciliation and order, not struggles and fights,” one microblogger said, referring to Jiang’s comment that we live in a world of constant struggles and fights between individuals and countries.

He Weifang, outspoken liberal law professor at Peking University, meted out scathing criticism towards his colleague on Wednesday. 

"The primary task of China's law professionals is to limit the powers currently not supervised by law," he wrote on Weibo. "And it's ridiculous to equate judicial indepence with 'a powerful judicial system in a weak country' [as Jiang claimed]."

He added: “You asked us to give up personal interests for the greater good of our country, and to sacrifice our personal character for a noble common cause. You asked us to associate knowledge and theories with the glories of the nation in order to produce all kinds of sciences of the Chinese nation - this is Nazism!"

In a phone interview with the South China Morning Post on Wednesday, Jiang, whose name is sometimes spelled "Qiang" in English, declined to comment on his speech. He added that he does not use Weibo and is not aware of online reactions. When asked about feedback from students, he said: “I am very busy and I rarely work with students.”


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This article is now closed to comments

Whats the issue with his comments?
"“Universal values are only meaningful when they are passed down as cultural heritage and become part of a nation’s civilisation,” he said. “Otherwise it's an empty word.”"
THIS MAKES PERFECT SENSE. It sounds like a slap to CCPs cultural revolution for destroying our cultural heritage and civilisation. But the again idiots tend to have trouble reading between the lines.
Kudos to He Weifang. Blind extreme nationalism is an incredibly dangerous force and led to the huge waste of life in WW1. What is it mean to be a legal scholar in PRC when there is no rule of law, eg in the contaminated melamine milk scandal there was a female judge who looked 25!
China is as imperialist as the US, otherwise Tibet and the Xinjiang would be independent countries.
The professor talks a lot, criticizes a lot but says nothing of content. Yes, the law graduates should help China, but in which way? If one cannot ask for and implement the rule of law, if civil rights are taboo then what is the meaning? There is nothing in his meaning of "following the USA, the old empire, etc." in his rants, Why do so many graduates go to foreign law firms? They face so many limitations in their profession that being a lawyer in China often looks like a joke.
Carioca no Coracao
universal values = euro/american values.
china should conform to euro/american values.
like american fast foods, type 2 diabetes, obesity
soon, chinese people will be big like americans....
(his exact name in pinyin is Qiang Shigong)
In his case, the last name is pronounced "Jiang", according to himself.
Carioca no Coracao
the stats support his argument. asian students is the largest group (2nd only to whites) graduated at top of prestigious law schools... but surveying top US law firms, fewer than 1% asians made to "partner". more blacks or hispanics made to partner than asians. to white american law firms, asians are good at obtaining law school honors, but unfit to manage, to lead the law firms. Joe Biden's racism everywhere... conservative GOP, liberal Democrat, all the same.... racist.


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