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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 31, 2006

Law Program Examines China's Growing Global Influence

Just glance through a business newspaper or watch a few minutes of CNBC and it doesn't take long to see just how powerful China has become on the world economic stage.

"Open up the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal on just about any day and they'll have four or five stories on China alone," said Enrique Carrasco, a University of Iowa law professor and director of the UI Center for International Finance and Development. "The country has become a major player in the international economic world, and it's only going to grow larger."

Examining China's growth and influence on the world economy will be the topic of a daylong program at the UI College of Law's Boyd Law Building on Friday, Feb. 10. "China: Law, Finance & Security" will look at the country's legal and financial systems, as well as its contentious relationship with Taiwan. Some of the country's leading scholars on issues relating to China will participate in panel discussions, and U.S. Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa will deliver opening remarks.

More information and registration information can be found online at http://www.uiowa.edu/ifdebook/conferences/china/intro.shtml. Registration deadline is today, Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Carrasco said the UICIFD decided to focus on China because it has quickly become one of the five largest economies in the world and is now beginning to project its economic strength around the globe. Inevitably, Carrasco said this growth has brought the country into conflict with the United States. The two countries have disagreed over the Chinese government's refusal to revalue its currency sufficiently, and on the growing trade imbalance between the two countries, an imbalance that favors China. The U.S. government also continues to push China's communist government leaders to improve the country's poor human rights record.

Chinese companies have also moved to purchase all or parts of many U.S. businesses in recent years, such as last year's bid to buy the oil company UNOCAL. This push for economic expansion recently reached Iowa, when the Chinese company Haier attempted to buy the Newton-based appliance manufacturer Maytag last year. Although Haier eventually withdrew its bid, Carrasco said it shows Chinese business leaders will go wherever they see a chance for growth.

"They're very aggressively pursuing opportunities around the world to open up markets for their products, and that brings them into conflict not just with the United States, but with the European Union and other countries," Carrasco said. "How we address those conflicts will determine the future of the international economy."

Those conflicts will likely only intensify in the near future. For instance, Carrasco said China has been fostering stronger relations with Latin American countries in recent years, to the consternation of the United States.

"It worries policymakers in Washington that China is making significant moves with respect to our neighbors to the south," he said.

The program will also look at how the Chinese are developing a rule of law. Helen Yu, a third-year law student helping to organize the symposium, said the term 'rule of law' is a flexible one that has different meanings in different countries.

"As used in China today, 'rule of law' is an under-defined expression of a state-led effort to modernize a developing society, as well as a slow process of legal reforms that can eventually serve the interests of many Chinese citizens," she said. The program will look at how the Chinese definition of the term works within a market economy, Yu said, as well as the government's current thinking on social stability, and the people's increasing awareness of the need for a fair system of dispute resolution. 

Behind all of this economic expansion, meanwhile, is an issue that has been simmering for almost 60 years; relations with Taiwan, one of the most perplexing and difficult issues in international law today. While the Peoples' Republic of China claims Taiwan as a renegade province, the island claims autonomy, if not outright independence. David Pendergast, a third-year law student also helping to organize the program, said the solution to the question is vital to more than just the two sides in the dispute.

"As China's stature on the global economic and political stages rises, the need for a peaceful solution to the 'Taiwan question' is increasingly important," Pendergast said.

PROGRAM EVENTS

--Opening remarks: U.S. Representative Jim Leach

--Morning panel discussion: "The Rule of Law in China." With Larry Cata Backer, Penn State University; John Ohnesorge, University of Wisconsin and director of the East Asian Legal Studies Center; and Xiaoping Chen, editor-in-chief of the China Law Digest.

--Luncheon Talks: Professor Jason Li, "China's Securities Markets: Progress, Problems and Possible Solutions;" Ting Zhong, presenting Professor Joseph Norton's paper "China and its 'Long March' Toward a Modern Banking System." SMU Institute of International Finance, Commerce & Technology."

--Afternoon panel discussion: "Security Across the Taiwan Strait." Lung Chu Chen, New York Law School and founder and president of the New Century Institute; Zhengyuan Fu, University of California-Riverside.

Sponsors of the symposium include the University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development, the Journal of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, the International Law Society, UI International Programs, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies and UI Student Government.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.