Eva Pils is Professor of Law at King’s College London, an affiliated scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute of New York University Law School, and an external member of the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg, as well as a current fellow at the European Institute for Chinese Studies. She studied law, philosophy and sinology in Heidelberg, London and Beijing and holds a PhD in law from University College London. Her current research addresses autocratic conceptions and practices of governance, legal and political resistance, and forms of complicity with autocratic wrongs. At King’s, she teaches courses on human rights; law and society in China; and authoritarianism, populism and the law. Before joining King’s in 2014, Eva was an associate professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.
"The rule of law and its opponents in China"
During China’s post-Mao reform era, the rule of law was an idea that the Chinese government and the international community could work to promote on the assumption that China was in transition towards a model of global constitutionalism, or at least towards a ‘thin’ version of the rule of law. In the “New Era” proclaimed by Xi Jinping, however, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has turned away not only from laws and legal institutions, but also from liberal conceptions of law. At the same time, the rule of law and human rights principles are also being challenged from within liberal democratic orders.
In this context, this project seeks to answer three questions. First, what has replaced liberal conceptions of the rule of law, and what conception of law shapes the legal-political order in China today? Second, how do liberal legal ideas and practices endure and how (and by whom) can they be defended? Third, what are the implications of the changes discussed here for international and transnational principles of the rule of law in a context of global democratic regression?