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Suzanne E. Scoggins

The study of policing in China is a small but growing subfield with critical insights for law and society scholars. This article examines the fundamentals of policing, tracing the organization’s history and institutional basics before turning to a review of the emerging literature. Scholars have made headway analyzing topics like policing practices, social control, public relations, and police perspectives, but there is still much work to be done. Partly because research on the police faces methodological challenges, the literature is uneven, leaving gaps in our knowledge about key issues such as police corruption, regional variation, and the relationship between police and private security groups. By outlining what we do and do not know about policing in China, this article parses the field’s best answers to questions of how police officers and the Public Security Bureau enforce state mandates and respond to challenges on the ground.

Benjamin van Rooij, Li Na and Wang Qiliang

Scholars and politicians often complain about how weak administrative law enforcement is in China. To better understand the challenges in law enforcement, as well as variation in actual practices and influences on such practices, the current paper analyzes Chinese pollution law enforcement data from the last two decades as well as in depth qualitative case studies of everyday enforcement practices. It finds that recently enforcement has become much more frequent and stricter. It finds that recent changes in national legislation, centralization reforms, increased citizen complaints, as well as enforcement campaigns all played a role in this. While this has helped strengthen enforcement, and maybe has played a part in recent pollution reductions, it has not fundamentally overcome structural enforcement impediments. The increased authority, independence, and pressure on environmental authorities for stricter enforcement, does not seem to be matched with sufficient investment in resource capacity and support for regular procedural enforcement practices. In addition, the ad-hoc pressure on enforcement has undermined regular legal procedure and stimulated greater socio-economic inequality. These findings about pollution enforcement force us to question simplistic static generalizations of administrative law enforcement and instead develop both large-scale studies that map change over time as well as in-depth case studies that provide a thorough picture of actual practices on the ground. Moreover, the paper concludes that a true picture of administrative enforcement must move beyond looking at the enforcement itself, to looking at how it arrives at the regulated companies and shapes their compliance.

Matthew Nicholson


This article considers utopian international legal thought. It makes three inter-connected arguments. First, it argues that international law and international legal theory are dominated by a ‘blueprint’ utopianism that presents international law as the means of achieving a better global future. Second, it argues that such blueprintism makes international law into what philosopher Louis Marin describes as a “degenerate utopia” – a fantastical means of trapping thought and practice within contemporary social and political conditions, blocking any possibility that those conditions might be transcended. Third, it argues for an iconoclastic international legal utopianism – Utopia not as a ‘blueprint’ for a better future, operating within the confines of existing social and political reality, but as a means of seeking to negate and exit from that reality – as the only way to maintain the idea that international law offers a path towards a truly better future.

Xiong Bingwan

This paper provides an overview of judicial decisions on lawsuits against regulatory penalties imposed on nonprofessional taxi drivers and ride-hailing platform operators in China and the European Union (especially Germany). Despite strikingly different facts in these cases, courts in both China and the EU are frequently called upon to rule on similar legal issues, including the applicability of old regulatory rules to new forms of transport services, the regulatory bar for the operation of emerging transport models, and the proper intensity of competition in taxi markets. The comparison of such cases suggests that for deciding the regulatory schemes of the innovative economy of transport services, the judicial system is not better suited than the regulatory system, especially the regulatory authority of the central government. Moreover, an experimental regulatory approach with minimum standards is arguably a feasible option that can fit with the emerging nature of innovative businesses.

Chen Xuan

The Qvod case in 2016, in which the Chinese video-sharing site Qvod was convicted of the crime of disseminating pornographic materials for profits, provoked heated debates regarding the criminal responsibility of internet service providers (ISPs) in China. Using the Qvod case as an example, this paper first discusses the definition and the legal obligations of ISPs, and argues that we should decide the criminal responsibility of ISPs according to their functions and the content of their services. This paper further analyzes four major issues associated with the criminal responsibility of ISPs, including accomplice responsibility, accessory with neutral conduct, perpetrator by action or omission and ideal concurrence (Idealkonkurrenz).

Christoph Krönke

The reflections on data regulation in the internet of things (IoT) in this paper provide an overview of the different conceptions and legal problems of “data property rights.” Beginning with an overview of the existing and possible applications of the future IoT (in particular, smart cars), this paper describes the legal concerns that may arise because of increased commercialization of object-generated data. The author uses German and European Union law to illustrate the legal complexities, solutions, and shortcomings. He demonstrates how and to what extent these issues are covered by traditional data protection regulations and highlights the conceptual blind spots of these regulations. He then contrasts the data protection paradigm (de lege lata) with the idea of a general erga omnes data property right (de lege ferenda) and describes the most common understanding of such a right, that is, a data producers’ property right. Against the background of the possible economic advantages of general data property rights, the paper discusses conceptual problems and constitutional concerns. In conclusion, the author rejects the idea of a general data property right.

Walther Michl

The article examines to what extent territory plays a role in internet regulation, especially whether an equivalent to physical border controls for cyberspace already exists in Germany, i.e. digital border controls. To that end, both the abstract relevance of the territorial principle and specific examples of legal commands that cause the free flow of data to be interrupted or modified along state boundaries are scrutinized.

Yu Wenguang, Tian Wei, Christoph Krönke and Michael W. Müller

Wang Yi