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JI Weidong | Only when the law does not favor the powerful and wealthy can it become a sharp Caprice on the road to constitutional governance and Mr. Jiang Ping's character
2023-12-29 from:CISLS preview:
Only when the law does not favor the powerful and wealthy can it become a sharp Caprice on the road to constitutional governance and Mr. Jiang Ping's character

*Written by Ji Weidong

Senior Professor of Liberal Arts, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
President of the Chinese Academy of Law and Society


Just imagine: there is a handsome young man who is brilliant and strong-blooded, who completed his studies ahead of schedule with excellent grades during his study abroad and attracted the attention of all parties, and returned to the capital in a hurry in order to serve the motherland and make great achievements, but he was classified as a "rightist" just because he confessed his views to the organization in response to the call for rectification, and suffered three disasters in a row within a year -- losing his bright future, losing his newlywed wife, and then losing a walking leg in a train accident of punitive manual labor. What a cruel trick of fate!!

The hero of this tragedy is Mr. Jiang Ping.

In the 22 years since then, how did Mr. Jiang survive the hardships? What was the strength that sustained him in the face of adversity and his spiritual upliftment? Everyone knows that in the sentence "I can look at everything more with a normal heart" that he lightly spit out from then on, there is actually an extremely strong meaning of "unusual". Struggling in the era when the Yellow Bell was destroyed and the tiles were ringing, it took courage and perseverance for the noble people to even "live one more day". During the long twenty-two years of spiritual exile, what was it that could sustain the psychological balance or optimism of the fallen people?

Did Mr. Jiang finally accept the proposition of the French Revolution theorist Saint-Justed that "too much is no cure"? It doesn't seem to be. Or is he simply silently enduring the pressures and inertia of reality with all the masses, as the psychologist George Grode said: "We are not living, but being lived"? It doesn't seem right either. Is it the opposite, then, that in the midst of doubts about external authority and inner denial, a new self-identity is finally established, which can make people distinguished and transcendent? In addition, what other factors can catalyze that rare expansiveness and rare understanding?

I wanted to ask him directly, but I was afraid that I would tear open the wounds of history and make him feel that heart-wrenching pain again.


In an interview with the editorial board of the Global Law Review in 2002, Mr. Jiang said, "In the past 70 years or so, the most unforgettable moment for me was the moment when I was classified as a rightist. This big truth provides us with enough space for imagination.

But the reason why Jiang Ping is Jiang Ping is because even in extreme adversity, the flame of hope in his heart has never been extinguished. In the midst of his daily blank eyes and cold faces, although he was deprived of the right to delve into academics, he still insisted on keeping the various legal works brought back from the Soviet Union for 10 years and 3,600 days. Even after the beginning of the "Cultural Revolution," which banned and burned books, although he reluctantly sold all his classics to the scrapyards, he still picked out a Russian version of the "Civil and Commercial Law of the Bourgeois State" and treasured it, which he kept for another 12 years, 4,321 days. Behind such persistent behavior there must be a more persistent idea -- the belief that the rule of law will eventually prevail over the rule of man, the belief that an all-powerful state cannot replace civil society, and the belief that the torrent of free trade will inevitably break through the embankment of closing the country. Obviously, Mr. Jiang Ping is a person with a clear sense of purpose.

However, we know that love is beyond an end. True love is an end in itself, and is not subordinate to any other end. Therefore, perhaps the absurd violence of being forced to divorce by an organization is far more severe than the blow to a young talent than the serious setback of his career and the serious physical injury. There is no need to elaborate on this, just look at the fact that Mr. Jiang has been widowed and unmarried for 15 years in the prime of his life. It was not until 1972, when he was sent to work in rural Anhui, that he was finally fortunate enough to rebuild his family and have children. During the teaching period of Yanqing Middle School, because the husband and wife lived separately, Mr. Jiang brought up his son by himself. Perhaps only the poems left by Su Shi in "Washing Children" are the most suitable for his state of mind at that time - "Everyone raises a son and wants to be smart, but I have been mistaken by being smart all my life; I hope that the child will be foolish and reckless, and there will be no disaster and no trouble to the minister." Even the open-minded and arrogant Mr. Dongpo has made such a heartbreaking complaint, you can imagine how many people have been rectified and mistaken in Chinese officialdom throughout the ages!


But Mr. Jiang still seems to be luckier than Mr. Dongpo, and in the end he was not "mistaken by being clever for a lifetime". So in his speech at the 70th birthday feast, he said something like this: "God is finally 'fair'. After 1957, it gave me 22 years of adversity and another 22 years of good times."

Since the reopening of the Beijing University of Political Science and Law (the predecessor of China University of Political Science and Law) in 1978 and the reinstatement of faculty members, Mr. Jiang finally had the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong ambition in his career. His professional courses have been widely welcomed by students, and his research results have also won rave reviews. After presiding over the teaching of the whole school, he created a new generation of atmosphere, so that many outstanding talents came to the fore. In terms of private law, he co-drafted the general principles of civil law with Mr. Tong Rou, Mr. Wang Jiafu, Mr. Wei Zhenying, etc., and participated in the formulation of many civil and commercial norms; In terms of public law, he cooperated with Mr. Luo Haocai and Mr. Ying Songnian to draft the Administrative Litigation Law; Once established, such an institutional arrangement, which links society and the State closely together with the guarantee of individual rights, will lay a solid foundation for the re-codification of the modern legal system. In the spring of 1988, Mr. Jiang was elected as a deputy to the Seventh National People's Congress, then elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, vice chairman of the Law Committee, and then appointed as the president of China University of Political Science and Law.

However, after 1989, the situation at home and abroad changed, and Mr. Jiang Ping also hung up his crown and returned to the campus. In this regard, he still treats it with a normal heart, no complaints and no regrets, but he has two more mantras, saying "shame and courage", and "only bowing to the truth". There is no cynical emotional reaction in it, just a reflection of the character of a career lawyer and public intellectual.

From this, I can't help but think of a quote from the German sociologist Zimmer, who has the temperament of a philosopher: "The highest level of art is uncompromising but adaptable to reality." And the most unfortunate personal quality is that despite constant compromises, it always fails to adapt to reality". Compared with those people who are constantly vacillating but full of complaints, it seems that Mr. Jiang has reached the kind of realm that Zimmer admires, who is uncompromising on matters of principle and can adapt to social reality with a tolerant and liberal attitude.

Because he is uncompromising on major issues of right and wrong, he has a clear conscience and speaks calmly. Because it can adapt to small and different subsections, it is more comfortable to be gregarious and act with fate. It is no wonder that in the 1990s, when he was "moved to the left", Mr. Jiang Ping's prestige was higher, his career became busier and busier, and his popularity in all aspects was also increasing. Suddenly I realized, is the main answer to the question I want to ask is here? Perhaps in 1957, Mr. Jiang paid such an extremely high price as losing everything that he obtained, and it was the realization of the highest state of life mentioned above?


Mr. Jiang Ping is indeed humble and open-minded. In the preface to the commemoration of his 70th birthday, he summed up his experience and only made the following paragraph: "I am a legal educator, and I use the school as a stage to strive to cultivate a generation of legal workers, lawyers, and jurists with a modern concept of the rule of law, and a democratic, free and open mind. I am a legal activist, and I have taken society as a stage and contributed to the establishment of a modern country under the rule of law in many fields such as legislation, justice, government departments, and enterprises." Although we will not accept such a modest self-evaluation in its entirety, and although we must highly praise Mr. Jiang's contributions to legal research, there is no doubt that we can agree with one thing, that is, he did devote his main efforts to legal education in the good times of the next 22 years, and he made remarkable achievements, and his great influence is bound to gradually manifest itself in the future operation of the system.