Research Legal History, Develop the Rule of Law, Concern Home and Country, and Advocate Human Rights
Hu Shuijun (hereinafter referred to as Hu): teacher Liu, I am very glad to interview you. I looked up your personal resume on the Chinese Law Website. And I know that you joined the army, studied as a graduate and postgraduate student at University, and have mainly been engaged in scientific research work, and served as the Director of Law Institute. I feel that your life is rich. However, information in your personal resume is a little light. Can you talk about your life experiences in detail first?
Liu Hainian (hereinafter referred to as Liu): thank you for your interview. I am over praised by your words. In fact, many people in our generation are like this. As you said, I joined the army when I was young. The desire to join the army started in 1948, at that time my hometown was liberated, and I didn’t realize it, because I was too young. I formally started work in January, 1950, at the Young Art Team of the Youth Song and Dance Ensemble in Wuhan city. And I joined the army in April of the same year, doing literature and art publicity work. In 1952, the whole army learned culture, and a batch of teachers was needed, so I became a cultural teacher. And then I was transferred to the Cadre Department. In 1954, the army selected a number of young cadres to go to Infantry School, and those chosen were glad, but after the appraisal at school, some were left behind. People with a low degree of education were not left behind. I was extremely touched at that time, and I felt that culture was very important. In 1955, Premier Zhou reported on issues of intellectuals, and appealing for them to step in to science. At that time, as for university admissions, there were not enough students, and he asked young people who had started work and had the desire to go to university to take the university entrance examination. In 1956, a batch of young people went to take the examination. In 1957, young people were still called to take the examination, but the admission numbers were reduced. Even so, I also registered for the examination, and I was admitted to Renmin University of China. I learned a lot when I was in the army. I was too young to know how to work, including how to live, which I learned under the care of older comrades. I have always said: “I was grown under the care and concern of the army.” From April, 1950 to 1957, I was in the army for seven years and five months. It was a very important growth period in my life. From 14 to 21 years old, I grew up with the love and care given by others, growing from an innocent child to a young officer, an outstanding young officer at that time. Cadres and soldiers in the army are frank, passionate, and sincere, which injects a kind of love, sincere, and loving heart. In 2006, the Academy wanted to publish a picture album, asking us to write a paragraph, and I wrote two paragraphs, one of which is: “I started work when I was thirteen years old, and I grew under the care of brothers and sisters of the army. And a kind of emotion and aspiration, injecting the loving heart into learning, work, colleagues, friends, motherland, and the people has been condensed in my heart because of my life experiences.” The education in the army was very important for my growth, and I deeply cherish that life.
In September, 1957, I went to study in Renmin University in China. I continued to study as a postgraduate student after my graduation in 1961. I have always been engaged in the work of military law. Originally, I shall chose Sector Approach Research, such as criminal law and criminal procedure, but at that time, there were only policies on criminal law major and in the aspect of criminal procedure, and these two majors didn’t recruit students at then, and then I chose to research legal history. And at that time, post graduates were supervised by the teaching and research section, and Mr. Zhang Jinpan was the mentor. Leng Yujin, Zhu Minshan, and Zhang Tianbao also selected legal history majors. Liu Han was in the Legal Principle Teaching and Research Section. Ding Huanchun and Chen Baolin also selected Legal Principle majors. After 1961, China began to summarize lessons of the “Great Leap Forward”, formulating “sixty articles” in universities and colleges and advocating attending schools and regular education and so on. In this period, we did indeed read a lot of books. I selected as my research direction ancient laws and laws of the Tang dynasty. For a while, the way of studying the ideas of legal history was frequently establishing viewpoints firstly, and then finding examples from historical materials. After I entered into this research field, I found that there were so many materials on legal history when I looked up materials in the library. And I had an idea at that time: there were so many materials here, why didn’t people read them? These materials involved paperd on my chosen topic. It is lucky that I read the original version under the guidance of my teachers. In the aspect of political theory, the school lets us learn from classic books and original versions of Marxism-Leninism, such as The Communist Manifesto, Civil War in France, Class Struggle in France, Origin of Family, Private Ownership, and Country, and Country and Revolution and so on. Teachers talked about their background, structures, content, and meanings of them. In the aspect of profession, teachers also emphasized reading the original version books, such as the Book of History, The Analects of Confucius, Mencius, Syun Zih, The Book of Lord Shang, and Hanfeizi and so on. Teacher Zhang Jinpan also asked us to extract parts on laws in Chronicle of Zuo as holiday homework. At the time of preparing for the paper, I read materials mainly on the laws of the Tang dynasty. The background to laws of the Tang dynasty was the peasant uprising at the end of the Sui dynasty, mainly involving he Wude period, Zhenguan period, and Yongwei period. During the research, I felt that the materials on Chinese ancient legal history are very precious, which is worthy of research. On the basis of researching materials, I wrote the article Discussion on Laws of Yongwei Period under the guidance of teacher Zhang Jinpan. The quality of our theses was very good, and they were praised as excellent. However, some theses overemphasized class struggle because of the influence of the thought of the “left”. At that time, the theory of class struggle was very popular. It was not totally wrong to say class struggle, and it reflects the historical development of law and is a basic method for the analysis of issues. However, with the influence of situations at that time, it went beyond the limit of the theses. During the three-years of postgraduate life, I was firm in theoretical basis and professional knowledge. However, in 1964, regarding class struggle as the creed was put forward. In the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eight Central Committee, the Communist Party of China emphasized that we shall speak class struggle every year, every month, and every day. In addition, several theses were published. It was difficult to publish theses at that time. Articles with signatures must be examined and there were few journals. In the post graduate phase, teachers’ guidance and education helped me a lot, which has produced good influences on my research. At that time, an idea came to me: in order to research history, we must start from historical facts; history can not be duplicated, but if you start from historical facts and read original materials, your articles can be close to social conditions of that era; you can not confirm a viewpoint at first, and then go to find arguments in historical materials, which is inadvisable.
I chose to work in the Legal Institute on my own. I think that it is the best place for me to take part in legal research. After “the Great Cultural Revolution in China”, Legal History Research Room and Legal Principle Research Room were combined as a branch, and the Director of Legal History Research Room was Han Yanlong, while Director of the Legal Principle Research Room was Wu Daying, and the final Director was Li Buyun, I served as Secretary for a long time. And at that time, these two research rooms were next door to each other, so they discussed some problems together. Before and after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party, the thought in the Legal Institute was very active. In this period, the Legal Institute established the Chinese Law History Society, this was the first society established in legal circles in China. Han Yanlong, Chang Zhaoru, Gao Heng, and I always went to some universities and colleges in Beijing to make connections. At that time, Renmin University in China and China University of Political Science and Law had not recovered. As for theoretical research, especially the theoretical research on government by law, there was a great background in our Legal Institute, namely before and after “the Great Cultural Revolution in China”, the legal system in China was destroyed. In the later period of “the Great Cultural Revolution in China”, the “Gang of Four” didn’t let the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences develop their work and scholars contact presses and newspaper offices. Although we have come back from cadre school, we also organized movements together, criticizing ourselves and not allowing us to connect with others. And we have gave these intellectuals time to think calmly. Tell the truth, I have read Hundred Schools of Thought, History of the First Four, and History as a Mirror since I studied in the cadre school, and read them again at that time. Before and after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party, a series speeches by Deng Xiaoping were on behalf of the revolution and the wishes of national people and vast intellectuals and cadres, like this, thoughts were started immediately. Under the guidance of the ideological line of emancipating minds and seeking truth from facts, some comrades in the Legal Institute were inspired to speak out on the correct viewpoints. Before the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party, the Legal Institute always held a theoretical seminar on democracy and legal system participated in by Beijing legal circlea, and after that it has been held many times since then, and Yu Guangyuan, leader of the institute at that time, took part in these seminars and gave speeches. The People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, and the Beijing Daily released news, and articles written by comrades in the Institute were published. Chen Chunlong, Chang Zhaoru, and I have co-written more than twenty articles. And now it seems that discussions of those articles on democracy and legal system were not in-depth, but the reflected concepts and requirements were clear. Activities of the Legal Institute have had a good impact on legal circles and society at that time. I feel that, as for theoretical research, Marxism shall be regarded as the guidance. Historical materialism and dialectical materialism have revealed laws of the development of human history and are guidance and bases for theoretical research. In China, Chairman Mao applied Marxism-Leninism to the special environment of China, guided the Chinese revolution successively, and achieved victory, which is a brilliant event. He was wrong, but his historical achievements can not be denied by anyone.
And then, I was engaged in research on human rights theories. Since I was a child, I have seen and heard that Japanese imperialism massacred and bombed the common people in China. With the education and actual life in my childhood, I deeply feel that the Chinese nation must self-improve. In the research on human rights theories, a kind of deep-rooted patriotism ideology has guided me to set foot in China and to serve Chinese human rights all the time. And at the same time, we shall not only inherit Chinese history and excellent contents in historical culture, but also accept excellent achievements in the human civilizing process, which was said by President Hu Sheng. The modern and contemporary theoretical research in China has been developed in the process of discussion, practice, re-discussion, and re-practice, so has the research on human rights theories. The Chinese Communist Party has struggled with Chinese people enjoying human rights since it came to the historical stage: it formulated the Human Rights Act during the New Democratic Revolution; struggling for human rights in mass movements was an important slogan before 1949; Premier Zhou talked about human rights at the Asian-African Conference in 1954. However, after this, human rights, the theory of human nature, and humanitarianism were disdained as heterodoxies and things of capitalism to be criticized. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party, aiming at problems in “the Great Cultural Revolution in China”, comrades in the Legal Institute always published articles on human rights. Chen Chunlong, Chang Zhaoru, and I have written several articles, independent of organizations. Human rights were researched by organizations from around 1990, and at that time, Wang Keju of the International Law Institute applied to research international human rights guarantee. At the beginning of 1991, after the written instructions of Comrade Jiang Zemin on human rights were conveyed, the Party Central Committee appointed the task of researching human rights theory to President Hu Sheng, and President Hu Sheng delegated it to the Legal Institute. And at that time, Wang Jiafu served as Director, and I served as Deputy Director. We were glad and worried when we accepted this task, and we afraid that we can not finished the task well and we would make mistakes, we were not as relaxed as now. However, this was an important task, and we proceeded without hesitation and spared no pains. In order to complete this task assigned by the Party Central Committee, to be responsible for the construction human rights in China, and to carry out international exchanges and struggle better, our Institute organized a series of discussions within the Institute, and we held a national seminar on human rights theory in June, 1991, on the basis of this. After the seminar, we wrote three reports which were submitted to the Party Central Committee. Now it seems that these reports were not in place completely, but they played a protective role at that time. At that time, the bases of human rights theory in China was weak, without materials, so we gathered materials energetically. As for the series of collections of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPC, the Legal Institute compiled Human Rights Construction in China and Developing Family and Human Rights in China. These were existing textual materials, which are not fit for theoretical research and serve the decisions of the Party Central Committee. And then, we decided to assign some teams to investigate the human rights system and theory of other countries in Europe, America, and South Asia and so on, and at the same time they collected books, laws and regulations, and relevant documents of every country in the world and the United Nations in the aspect of human rights, reporting to the Party Central Committee. In September, 1991, the North America team was led by me, and Lin Di served as Deputy Head, including Xin Chunying and Li Lin. This is the first delegation for human rights in China, which caused a sensation in the international media at that time. All news agencies in Beijing released the news. Someone said: “it is a positive trend of China” or “China is experienced and astute”. All news agencies in Beijing asked interview the delegation, how was that? (Laugh) in 1992, Wang Jiafu led a delegation to investigate in western Europe, central Europe, and eastern Europe, while I led a delegation to investigate in south Asia, and members who went to south Asia included Li Buyun, Liu Nanlai, Huang Lie, and Huang Qianghua. In addition, we submitted reports to the Party Central Committee after every investigation, and those reports were confirmed and praised by the Party Central Committee. After that, our Institute also invited foreign experts to give lectures in China and sent people to engage in advanced studies in foreign countries. In short, the theoretical research on the rule of law and human rights has played an improving role in decisions of the Party Central Committee and national legislation. I believe that under the leadership of the new leading group and under the new great situation, legal basic theory research and theoretical and practical research on constitution, civil law, criminal law, administrative law, economic law, and international law and so on will have a greater development in the future.
Hu: you have talked about your experiences in the army and university and your work on the rule of law and human rights after you served as a leader in the Legal Institute. Can you talk more about your scientific research work when you served as assistant researcher and deputy researcher, that is to say, in the stage where we young scholars are at present?
Liu: I went to work in the Legal Institute in January, 1965. I didn’t place the ancient legal system in an important position although I researched the history of the ancient legal system, and I began to research legal historical materials of revolutionary base areas. At that time, there were related legal historical materials of revolutionary base areas in the Supreme People's Court gathered by Dong Biwu in the early years after liberation, and the Legal Institute centralized these precious historical materials to research. Zhang Zhonglin, Li Shuqing, and I participated in the collection and settlement, and then Liu Nanlai and Chang Zhaoru also took part. In this period, I have seen decades of legal literature in the aspect of human rights formulated in liberated areas by the Party, and I was surprised. However, at that time, I dared not to talk too much, because at that time human rights was forbidden. After reform and opening-up, Chang Zhaoru and I co-wrote an article Protecting People’s Rights is an Excellent Tradition of Revolutionary Legal Law, published in Legal Research in 1979. Originally, we wanted to draw the attention of everyone, but later, I did not continue revolutionary legal law research because I accepted other work.
My research on laws of the Qin dynasty was started like the following: at the end of 1975, I found bamboo slips from the Qin dynasty in Hubei province, which caused a sensation at home and abroad, and Chairman Mao valued it too. This batch of bamboo slips was cleared up through the organization of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and at that time some famous experts participated in the clearing up, including Zhang Zhengliang, Li Xueqin, An Zuozhang, Yu Haoliang, and Qiu Xigui and so on. In the aspect of legal history, Gao Heng, Shu Zhimei of Hubei Museum, Tang Zangong of Beijing Normal University, Zhu Sizhong of Shanghai, Dou Aili of a factory in Beijing, and I. We went there in the spring of 1976, and we transferred from the “red building in Beijing University” to the Imperial Palace to clear up after the earthquake of the same year. And at that time, the work was difficult, but we worked hard. We cleared up in the daytime and looked into materials at night. We should look into historical books and textual books in the same era written on bamboo slips, and how to read and understand characters on bamboo slips. We made footnotes and translated them after the simple texts were cleared up, and a large-character edition, paperbound edition, and hard-back edition were published. Footnotes on the large-character edition were simpler, but Chairman Mao died without reading it. I published some articles during clearing up. At that time, I was in good health and full of energy, working day and night. Learning the spirit and learning methods of ancient scholars taught me a lot. Many characters were recognized again and again, and the riginal sources of the explanations of key words should be found. Our footnotes and translation of the bamboo slips may not be complete, but we have tried our best.
Hu: this year is the tenth anniversary for the raising of “running state affairs according to the law, and building a socialist country under the rule of law” at the 15th Party Congress of Chinese Communist Party. I know that Professor Wang Jiafu of our Institute has often given lectures on the law in the year before the law strategy was put forward at the 15th Party Congress. And at that time, you were the director, and you organized and participated in drafting the speech. Can you talk about the process of raising “running state affairs according to law, and building a socialist country under the rule of law” in China combining your work at the Legal Institute?
Liu: In the summer of 1980 the editorial department of Legal Research of the Legal Institute organized a seminar “governed by law and by people seminar”, and I participated in the judgment of Lin Piao and Jiang Qing. I was very busy, so I only went to hear the seminar. I remember that at the seminar “ruling by law” and “implementing socialist law” were the main streams basically. With the depth of recognition, “ruling by law” has been replaced by “running state affairs according to law” gradually. And other progress in the idea of government by law, “implementing socialist law” replaced “implementing socialist legal system”. Wang Jiafu, Li Buyun, and I have published Discussion on Legal System Reform in Legal Research, putting forward “implementing socialist law” very early. Later, some scholars criticized the viewpoints in this article, but the viewpoints in this article were right through practical verification. At the beginning of 1996, Wang Jiafu gave a speech on Theoretical and Practical Issues on Running State Affairs according To Law, And Building a Socialist Country under the Rule of Law to the Party Central Committee. The title was put forward by the Ministry of Justice to the Party Central Committee, and at that time, it put forward two titles, and Comrade Jiang Zemin selected this one. Comrade Xiao Yang was the Minister at the Ministry of Justice, and he asked for opinions on key speakers and said that he planned to organize group A and group B, so as to make more sufficient preparation. I had introduced conditions of the Legal Institute to research government by law and human rights theory after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. And I thought that it was most appropriate for the Legal Institute to give that speech. Through that process, he has often asked me to speak. However, I recommended a more proper person. Xiao Yang is a comrade with pioneering spirit. This seminar and the legal seminar organized by the Ministry of Justice for the Party Central Committee before or after this had a great effect on socialist law construction. Xiao Xianfu has done a lot of work on Jiafu’s speech. The drafting group often suggested changing “a country with an adequate legal system” to “a country under the rule of law” as the title, and “a country under the rule of law” was used in drafts. Finally, the wording of “a country with an adequate legal system” was not changed, maybe because the title was confirmed previously. In addition, at “the academic seminar of running state affairs according to law, and building a socialist country under the rule of law” held in May, 1996, we still insisted on the wording of “a country under the rule of law”. In May, 1997, on the 20th anniversary of institute building, the Institute held a series of academic reports, and I gave a report named “Continuing with the Past and Opening up the Future, Struggling for Building a Socialist Country under the Rule of Law”. In the same year, Wang Jiafu participated in the drafting of the report for the 15th Party Congress, and the Legal Institute specifically invited Li Lin to write a report for this, and he suggested changing “a country with an adequate legal system” to “a country under the rule of law”. It should be mentioned that “running state affairs according to law, and building a socialist country under the rule of law” has become the statecraft of the Chinese Communist Party, which was later written into the constitution.
Hu: among materials related to “rule by law”, I notice that in Instructions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Adhering to Guaranteeing the Practical Implementation of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedural Law made by the Party Central Committee on September 9th, 1979, “implementing socialist rule by law” was put forward. It is said that Jiang Hua, the original President of the Supreme People's Court, has highly praised this document, thinking that it has been the most important and profound document in the aspect of political and legal work since the new China was established even after the Chinese Communist Party was built and it is a mark that socialist legal system construction has entered a new stage. I know that you worked on the drafting of this document, can you talk about how “implementing socialist rule by law” was put forward?
Liu: the drafting process of this document is as follows: hosts are Hu Qiaomu and Deng Liqun, and it was specifically organized by Comrade Deng Liqun, Teng Wensheng, Wang Jiafu, Li Buyun, Yu Haocheng, and I participated in its drafting. We decided in advance that each of us would write a copy, and then combine them. However, when we submitted this draft, the leaders said that this was an article not a document, and threw it out. Later, Comrade Deng Liqun asked us to discuss how to draft this document. And every discussion was drastic. In the whole discussion process, I was responsible for text settlement. In the first several drafts, we wrote “ruling state affairs by law”. We thought we should seek opinions from a comparatively wide range after the draft was mature. I remember that I asked for advice from the Ministry of Finance, because it involved issues on police dress and financial expenditure. In the process of asking for opinions a famous comrade in a department put forward that we have run state affairs in accordance with the Chinese Communist Party, why should we advocate “running state affairs according to law”? People’s cognition should move forward step by step. When someone puts forward this kind of opinion, leaders must value it, so we got rid of “running state affairs in accordance with law” and wrote “implementing socialist law”. However, this opinion wasn’t accepted immediately. Someone put forward that we use “socialist legal system” in the past, and there wasn’t a theoretical basis for putting forward “socialist law”. It shows that it is not easy to emancipate ideologies.
Hu: listening to you, it seems that your academic research field can be divided into three aspects. Firstly, Chinese legal history research, in this aspect, you mainly concentrate in the research of the laws of the Tang dynasty, the laws of the Qin dynasty, and relevant legal ideologies, especially the research on laws of the Qin dynasty; secondly, research in law theory; thirdly, research on human rights theories. Do you think we can summarize it like this?
Liu: it can be said like this by and large.
Hu: in addition, I want to ask about several specific problems. I know that you mainly researched the laws of the Tang dynasty in your postgraduate studies, especially the laws of Yongwei, and later, you deeply researched the laws of the Qin dynasty. The laws of these two dynasties have had great influence on later generations, so-called “Han dynasty inherited the system of Qin dynasty”. And the laws of the Tang dynasty, which were considered as the highest achievements in history, were greatly influenced by the laws of the Sui dynasty. These two dynasties realized national unity, and they are the shortest dynasties in history. As for the Qin dynasty, some people after the Qin dynasty summarized the rapid decline of the Qin dynasty was because of dense and harsh laws, do you agree with this opinion? As for the laws, why did these two dynasties, whose laws were good for China, die out so soon?
Liu: this is a good question, and it is a long story. Please read Jiangling Bamboo Slips first, whose content are laws that were popular in the period of Emperor Lv and Hui, and it hasn’t much when compared with the laws of the Qin dynasty. “Han dynasty inherited the system of Qin dynasty”, the laws of the Han dynasty have not changed a lot at least from Liu Bang to Emperor Lv and Hui, and some extreme criminal laws added by the First Emperor of Qin were later abolished. The failure of the Qin dynasty is not because of the laws of the Qin dynasty, but because the First Emperor of Qin destroyed the original laws of the Qin dynasty, which were described and recorded in Records of the Grand Historian and History of the Han Dynasty. In the Records of the Grand Historian, “the First Emperor of Qin has abolished the benevolent government, built private rights, forbidden documents, and developed criminal laws”, in the History of the Han Dynasty, “the First Emperor of Qin destroys laws of previous kings and kills etiquette officers”. If in a dynasty, cruel torture is implemented, it can not rule for very long. As for the subversion of the Sui dynasty, speaking from the aspect of laws, compared with the Kaihuang Code of Emperor Wen in the Sui dynasty, the Cause Law of Emperor Yang in the Sui dynasty has lightened in fact, but later, it didn’t handle matters in accordance with the laws, also destroying laws and arousing the peasant uprising at the end of the Sui dynasty. Conditions at the end of the Sui dynasty are the same as that at the end of the Qin dynasty. The laws of the Tang dynasty, like the Wude laws in the beginning, have inherited laws from the period of Emperor Wen in the Sui dynasty. However, the laws of the Han dynasty have adjusted the laws of the Qin dynasty, and the laws of the Tang dynasty have adjusted the laws of the Sui dynasty. For example, Liu Bang of the Han dynasty drew up three chapters of law after he served as the Emperor, “murderers should suffer death, and people who hurt others and steal things shall be punished for their crime.” He was supported by the people, and then he abolished some cruel torture. In the Tang dynasty, after Li Yuan won Chang’an, he issued twelve creeds, urgently abolishing some despotic rules of Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty, stabilizing popular feelings, and formulating Wude laws to lighten criminal laws. As for criminal laws, Zhenguan laws have lightened a lot when compared with Wude laws. Therefore, the subversion of the Sui dynasty is not because of the laws of the Sui dynasty, but because Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty destroyed his own laws and didn’t do things in accordance with those laws. As for national unity and the inheritance of laws by later generations, the Qin dynasty is amazing, so is the Sui dynasty. These two dynasties realized national unity and made laws, and the reason why these two dynasties failed is that the First Emperor of Qin and Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty destroyed laws formulated by them. I have talked about this point in Legal Thoughts of Rulers of Qin Dynasty.
Hu: nowadays, many people think that ancient Chinese society did not value laws. In fact, there were laws and systems in each dynasty of Chinese history, and monarchs and emperors were restricted by morality, powerful ministers, and some systems, and the value factor of “kindheartedness and justice” was implemented. What do you think about this? In your opinion, does the Chinese ancient legal system have any positive meaning for today’s society?
Liu: in ancient Chinese times, most emperors formulated and issued laws after he ascended the throne. The Emperors of the Qin dynasty, Han dynasty, Tang dynasty, Song dynasty, Ming dynasty, and Qing dynasty appointed capable ministers to formulate laws. A dynasty, with a history of one or two hundred years even several hundred years, can not be managed by the emperor himself. Therefore, they valued the formulation of laws. The problem is that under the rule of absolutism, imperial power is superior to the law, so laws are always destroyed. In addition, there are some philosophies, experiences, and excellent legal thoughts in the historical process, and we shall absorb good things from Chinese traditional culture. There are so many positive factors in Chinese ancient laws and legal thought. It is very worth learning from relevant legislation, law enforcement, administration of justice, and criminal investigation and so on. I will use several examples here. There are such formulations in the laws of the Qin dynasty: to make a tool, such as desk or chair, the length and size of each part must be the same. How advanced this production standardization is! It also includes product maintenance problem after production. If articles are destroyed in the future, they can be maintained with the same parts. The Laws of the Qin dynasty also stipulated: in spring, we can not cut trees, capture small beasts and birds, and kill fish with poison, and the ban will be lifted in July, except for cutting trees to make coffins for dead persons. These should be the legal rules in the aspect of ecological environment at present. For example, the laws of the Tang dynasty formulates: persons who dare to plead for mercy for others shall be hit fifty times with whips; if government officials accept this intercession, government officials shall be hit fifty times with whips; if government officials accept this intercession and bent the law for the benefit of relatives or friends, they shall be punished more severely. In ancient times, as for intercession, there were such laws, isn’t that amazing? In fact, there are many things in Chinese ancient laws that can be referred to by us.
Hu: can you talk about your learning experiences in the past few decades?
Liu: in previous years, Professor Zhuo Zeyuan, the original Vice President of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law, often arranged to talk about my learning experiences in advance. I said that I didn’t have any experiences. It seems that I have been obeying all my life. Chances for me to make choices are not too much. I do what the Chinese Communist Party and China need me to do. I have lived like this. He said that this was a kind of experience. I said that this was experience. (Laugh) A friend told me that in the Institute, you must research what the Chinese Communist Party and China appointed you to do, rather than you must research what you have learned. It is indeed likes this. As for our research, under the mechanism of that time, it was not like researching what you have learned. You can do this at present, but we could not at that time. I have researched Chinese legal history, and I needed to be transferred to the department of law to do a theoretical major after “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China”, which you could not research? At that time, talents in the legal profession were few, and some transferred after graduating, and I had no choice but to fit the development requirement of the situation. Under this situation, it was difficult for anyone without the ardent love of the socialist cause. For example, after reform and opening-up, I was appointed to draft documents in the Party Central Committee, and I had to go; I was appointed to participate in the judgment of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, and I had to go; later, I served as the Director of the Institute, and I had to take care of topics researched in the Institute. In addition, as for learning, work, and major, I can insist on until I made achievements. When I was a postgraduate student, I selected ancient legal history research. I felt that it was very interesting although many people think that it is boring. Till now, I have loved this major.
Hu: please put forward some suggestions for us young scholars.
Liu: far from suggestions, I will give you some random opinions. I have researched legal history, and I think that history is very important. As for legal research, it is necessary to research legal history. How important is history! In the past, I have talked with comrades engaged in legal theory, and not researching legal principles. For example, Li Buyun of our Institute researches legal principles from the angle of philosophy, and Liu Han researches legal principles from the angle of the international communist movement, which is special. As for great masters, some old leaders of our Institute have their own angles when researching problems. For example, comrade Qiao Mu from the angle of party history, comrade Deng Liqun from the angle of economics, comrade Yu Guangyuan from the angle of philosophy, and President Hu Sheng from the angle of modern history, and they are grand theoretical masters. As for legal principles, you should pay attention to crossing over from department law, legal history, or legal ideology history (of foreign countries, or China). As for the importance of history towards legal research, I will give you an example. There are doctoral dissertations, writing online settlement disputes of the internet, called ODR, which is a good base for an article. Thereinto, ODR is talked about, and the viewpoints of foreign scholars are quoted, and it says that mediation was started in America in the 1960s or 1970s. In fact, there was mediation in ancient China. Mediation regulations were formulated in liberated areas after the new China was established. How can they say that mediation was started in America in the 1960s or 1970s? At present, some young people don’t understand enough Chinese history, and they don’t explain problems with the application of relevant materials, but they accept many western matters; only copying some materials mechanically, it means “learning overseas things without digestion”. This problem states that we should know about history and the causes and effects of research problems, although we research department law. In some text books of department law in Japanese Universities, chapter one talks about the developmental history of this department law first, which is worthy of learning by us. Young people should read some books seriously. You should read some books rather than using books only. Young people should accept Chinese ancient culture, reading some ancient books and ancient law books that fit your own major and interests, and read some foreign books which are important in the process of human civilization, and you should read over at least one book from the beginning to the end every year. Don’t be partial to anyone of the two. If you are partial to anyone, your cognition in some aspect may be not complete. As for research work, you should compare, including comparing reality and history, things at home and abroad, or else, it is difficult to deepen your research. I hope that you inherit a good tradition and push forward the academic cause. China is a civilized ancient country and socialist country, and it shall take its place in the front ranks of the world in academic research.
Hu: you were appointed as Deputy Director of the Legal Institute in 1988 and as Director in 1993, so you have rich experience of managing the institute. Finally, please talk about your experiences of managing the institute.
Liu: I never really thought about being the Director. In addition, I love the Legal Institute very much. I think that the Legal Institute is very good and the quality of comrades is high, who have been guided by revolutionists and scholars of previous generations, such as Zhang Youyu, Zhou Xinmin, and Han Youtong and so on. Through mutual understanding of several years, we have a strong team spirit and are able to do work well. When Wang Jiafu and I served as leaders of the Legal Institute, we decided to give full play to the instruction of central policies and under the guidance of leaders, relying on colleague’s strengths. We built an original core on this basis, and this core was formed gradually. It is very important to build the institute. Core members were very active and had a positive effect before and after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party. Wang Jiafu and I organized this batch of comrades consciously after we served as leaders, to form a think tank under the guidance of the Party committee of the Institute and Director. Great events, important theoretical issues, and construction issues in the institute shall be discussed in the meeting, spoken frankly and sincerely. This core was mainly older comrades that went to work in the institute before “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China”, and later a quantity of comrades who were young at that time were absorbed, such as Liang Huixing, Zheng Chengsi, Yang Yifan, Xin Chunying, Li Lin, Gao Hongjun, Xia Yong, Chen Zexian, Hu Yunteng, and Chen Su and so on. In order to cultivate the younger generation, we have sent some young scholars to engage in advanced studies in foreign countries. If their foreign language needs work, we sent them to the institute of foreign languages or language institute to learn languages well and then to engage in advanced studies in foreign countries. Therefore, leaders of the institute and most research room leaders have studied in foreign countries. This is a very important condition for our institute to develop. In addition, we shall take care of young people. I am responsible for work, but my working methods are not very good. I am a person with strong emotion. And I am sincere to colleagues and friends. I think that we shall believe in our comrades in the institute. We should believe in them in politics and ideology. To err is human. If their big direction is correct, said by Deputy President Zheng Bijian, it doesn’t matter if we go wrong in some places. Finally, as a leader, you shall dare to undertake responsibilities, and don’t be put off when you make mistakes, which I think is very important.
Hu Shuijun, male, was born in Hubei province in December, 1974. He was awarded a doctor of law degree at Renmin University, China in 2002, and was a postdoctoral researcher at theLegal Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences from 2003 to 2005. At present, he serves as a deputy researcher in the Legal Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He has also written books, such as Political Analysis of Laws.
Translated by Feng Weijiang.
Editor: Wang Daohang