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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal

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PBLJ focuses on a diverse range of legal and policy issues as they affect the rapidly developing economies of the Pacific Rim. Throughout its history, the journal has featured articles written by leading scholars and practitioners on topics including human rights law, constitutional law, comparative law, criminal law, international trade law, business and corporate law, and intellectual property law.

Volume 31, Issue 1, 2013

Issue cover

Front Matter

Front Matter

[No Abstract]


Going Barefoot in the Middle Kingdom: A Preliminary Study of the Strategic Choices of Non-Licensed Weiquan Lawyers in Modern China

This article explores the phenomenon of unlicensed, “barefoot” weiquan lawyers in China. Although these unorthodox lawyers play an integral role in the protection of rights in China’s legal system today, surprisingly little academic literature has been devoted to their study, and knowledge of what they are like and how they operate is limited. In light of this, eleven unlicensed weiquan lawyers from various parts of mainland China were selected for in-depth interviews. I discovered that despite the separation of the interviewees from the state, they were no more aggressive or radical than their licensed counterparts. Although they often employed extra-judicial methods in addition to legal methods, the interviewees emphasized the need to stay within the framework of the law. In addition, contrary to the expectation that unlicensed weiquan lawyers are comparatively lacking in legal competence, several interviewees often employed sophisticated and technical legal arguments when advocating in court. Based on these observations, this article concludes with preliminary comments on the role of barefoot weiquan lawyers in China’s legal system and future developments for the profession.

A Failure to Consider: Why Lawmakers Create Risk by Ignoring International Trade Obligations

The U.S. Congress frequently passes laws facially unrelated to trade that significantly impact U.S. trade relations. These impacts are often harmful, significant, and long-lasting. Despite this fact, these bills rarely receive adequate consideration regarding how they will impact trade. Without this consideration, Congress cannot properly conduct the benefit-cost analysis necessary to pass effective laws. Failure to consider a law’s unintended consequences almost guarantees poor outcomes. To remedy this problem, the U.S. Congress committee structure could be amended so that laws that impact trade are considered appropriately. However, the domestic focus of Congressional politics leaves the Legislature in a poor position to enforce stable trade policy. Thus, a Presidential Executive Order requiring agencies to consider the trade implications of rules is ultimately necessary.

Can Islam and "Islamization" Be a Force for Refugee Rights in Malaysia?

Malaysia has ratified neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Accordingly, refugees in Malaysia are not accorded legal status and, like other irregular migrants, face arrest, detention, and basic human rights violations on a daily basis. This Article argues that invoking the importance of asylum in Islam (Malaysia’s “official religion” according to the Federal Constitution) will provoke moral sensibilities and inspire legal reform of Malaysia’s refugee rights protection framework, given the aggrandized role of Islam in Malaysian politics and public law, which now extends beyond the syariah (Islamic law) jurisdiction. This Article then considers whether the court is the most appropriate forum for such advocacy: it proposes a constitutional litigation strategy, analyzes Malaysia’s constitutional jurisprudence, and examines the larger implications of this litigation strategy in Malaysian society, especially regarding the religious freedom of Muslims who seek to renounce their Islamic faith. More broadly, this Malaysian case study supports a religious, rather than a secular model of human rights, and demonstrates why and when religion can be a force for, rather than an obstacle to, human rights. It also challenges the Vienna Declaration’s claims that human rights are inalienable, universal, indivisible and inter-related.