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2011 events

Patriarchism, Liberalism and the nature of Rule of Law: some inspirations from colonial Hong Kong's legal history

Ms Xiulin Yu

PhD candidate in Law School, SOAS


Room K2.31

King’s College London (Strand Campus), Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Thursday, 8 December, 5.00-6.00 pm



This lecture comprises three sections. The first furnishes us a concise historical background of the contrasting development of Contagious Diseases (CD) laws in Hong Kong and Britain in the 19th century. From a comparative legal culture perspective, the second section will argue that Chinese traditional patriarchism and Confucian values played an important role in smoothing out the tensions and contradictions in the applications of the CD legislation. However, this layer of Chinese contributions in maintaining Hong Kong’s law and order has been hitherto not received sufficient scholarly attention. Instead, in contemporary legal discourse, Chinese traditional values and customs have been constantly criticized as impeding Hong Kong’s advancement towards civilization and “rule of law". In the third section, Yu will draw on some critical theories to reflect the relation between Chinese traditional values and rule of law. Informed by the perspective of legal orientalism, this comparative case study of the CD regulations in Britain and colonial Hong Kong not only enriches our understanding of aspects of Hong Kong's legal history, but also challenges the fixed image of “rule of law” in Western language discourse on Occidental and Oriental legal cultures.


Xiuling Yu is a PhD candidate in Law School, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her research topics cover legal transplantation, comparative legal studies between English common law system and Chinese traditional legal culture, and the history of Hong Kong’s public health law. Her PhD thesis title: “Alien Law and Local Society: Colonial Rulers, Chinese Subjects, and the Development of Public Health Law in Hong Kong, 1841-1941”. Ms Yu received her LLM from the London School of Economics in 2006, LLM from Chinese Central Party School in Beijing in 2004, and LLB from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan in 2001. Her publications include: “State-regulated Vice vs. Voluntary Co-operation: Venereal Disease Control in Colonial Hong Kong, 1857-1941” , Journal of Comparative Law (forthcoming); “Colonial Power and Public Health Governance: a social-political enquiry on Hong Kong’s Public Health and Buildings Ordinance, 1900-1941” , Dynamic Development of Urban Culture in Contemporary China:  New Vision of Human Space, Zhejiang University Publication, 2011.

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