Weitseng Chen, J.S.D.
Associate Professor of Law
National University of Singapore
Born in 1972 in Taipei
Studied Law at National Taiwan University and Yale Law School
The Legacy of German Law in Asian Developmental StatesTo see how the Weimar Constitution might operate in the 21st century, one can look to Taiwan, as its constitution was modelled upon the Weimar Constitution and still functions well today. The same can be said of other areas of law in Japan, South Korea, and China, all of which began to transplant the German laws as early as the late 19th century. These laws have constituted these countries' political and market spaces and powerfully influenced their ideas about state power, market force, and social welfare.
This project aims to unveil German law legacies in Asian developmental states. These countries are (or once were) characterized by authoritarianism and mercantilism and constitute this small cluster of countries that managed to grow rapidly and/or become part of the developed world within a few decades. Their experiences demonstrate an illiberal model of law and development, in that they all adopted the ideas of rule of law, constitutionalism, and capitalism, while remaining authoritarian during their modernization eras. To understand the rise of illiberalism in Asia, part of a worrying global phenomenon concerning multiple disciplines, this project of legal history explores the linkages between German jurisprudential legacies and Asian authoritarianism and state capitalism, including their convergence, divergence, and resistance.
Chen, Weitseng, ed. The Beijing Consensus? How China has Changed Western Ideas of Law and Economic Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
-. "Twins of Opposites: Why China Will Not Follow Taiwan's Model of Rule of Law Transition toward Democracy." American Journal of Comparative Law 66, no. 3 (2018): 481-535. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2922458.
Chen, Weitseng, and Hualing Fu, eds. Authoritarian Legality in Asia: Formation, Development and Transition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
Tuesday Colloquium, 30.11.2021
Irony, Illusion, and Paradox: Why have Asian authoritarian regimes welcomed global democracy and rule-of-law promotion?
It has been considered common wisdom that once authoritarian regimes have accepted the idea of the rule of law and carried out legal reforms accordingly, democracy would follow eventually. This school of thought often points to Taiwan and South Korea as textbook examples of this trajectory. Both states democratized in the late 1980s after years of legal reforms and economic growth in their authoritarian era. In this colloquium, I will challenge this linear, optimistic thesis. By examining the legal history of Taiwan and South Korea, I will point out the irony, illusion, and paradox of global rule-of-law promotion that has strengthened rather than weakened the capacity and legitimacy of authoritarian states in Asia.