On 2 - 9 September Renmin University, Beijing, hosted the first UK-China Conference on Public Law. The topic of the conference was the place of the Rule of Law in Modern Constitutionalism. The conference was a collaboration between Renmin University, Oxford University, UCL, the China Association of Constitutional Law, and the United Kingdom Constitutional Law Group. The conference was organised by Nick Barber, from Oxford University, Jeff King, from UCL, and Ruiyi Li, from Nankai University. It was partly sponsored by Clifford Chance.
Over the course of a week, the conference examined a range of topics including judicial independence, the place of soft law in the constitution, the protection of human rights, the role of the judge in regulating the administration, and the interaction of the welfare state and the rule of law. All of the sessions involved a combination of Chinese and UK public law academics, with each group presenting a number of papers. Oxford was represented by Nick Barber (Trinity), Tarunabh Khaitan (Wadham), Hayley Hooper (Balliol), and Paul Yowell (Oriel). A number of the other delegates were also former Oxford members: Cora Chan (Brasenose) is now at the University of Hong Kong, Jeff King (Keble and Balliol) is now at UCL, Ruiyi Li (Balliol) is now at Nankai University, and Ewan Smith (Brasenose) now is a First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing. The other delegates included Martin Loughlin (LSE), Andrew Le Sueur (Essex), Aileen McHarg (Strathclyde) and Dawn Oliver (UCL).
The conference involved an unprecedented level of interaction between Chinese and British scholars. In total, over fifty academics participated, and many of Renmin’s students also attended the sessions. Each side benefited from the experience of the other. It is to be hoped that this is the first of many such collaborations between British and Chinese public lawyers as both China and Britain face the demands and challenges of realising the values of constitutionalism in a changing world.