Law and Development in East-Asia

This research project critically explores and reflects upon the inter-relationship between law and development in East Asian developing countries, including the People's Republic of China, Japan and the "Asian Tigers" (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea).  While there has been a great deal of attention devoted to the failure of law reform in adequately assisting in the economic development of many post-communist / socialist countries, not much of this attention has been directed at East Asian developing countries, especially those that have been enjoying considerable economic success in the past decade.  Drastic law reform failures, for example those in Eastern Europe, have contributed to the erosion of the Washington consensus and radical neoliberal market reform as the chief conceptual underwriters of the law and development movement.  Yet, strangely, the success of many East Asian economies, in the absence of compliance with many of the tenets prescribed by the Washington consensus, remains understudied in many respects. Although the current climate of thought appears to have a greater appreciation towards the need for occasional state intervention and sensitivity to local conditions, there remains great deal of underlying tensions including the appropriateness of the transplantation of legal systems, the sequencing and pace of reforms, the actual definitions of legal rights to be created, the form and function of institutions, the influence of initial conditions and path dependencies and, to what extent, if any, does law matter in the economic development of a nation in transition.

Against the backdrop of this canvass of contested ideas and ambiguous pictures of development, this research project focuses on how law has interacted with the development of East Asian countries and analyzes the role that local conditions of society, culture and politics may play in formulating a unique role of law in the development of different East Asian countries.  In engaging with law and development in East Asia, this study aspires  to not only compare development in East Asia against western experiences and paradigms of developmental thought, but also among East Asian countries themselves with the underlying assumption that this may often be the more relevant and enlightening mode of comparison.  Ultimately, this research project aspires to contribute towards a  coherent theory of law and development that takes into account the plurality of different developmental experiences and their interactions with the law in the hopes that the insights provided may assist in guiding the legal reform strategies of the future.

Leader Profile: 
Professor Gil Lan , Ph.D. Candidate/Adjunct Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Research Associate, CLPE, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto