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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 39, Issue 1, 2022


Spatial Spillover Effects in Civil Litigation: Evidence from Chinese Provinces

There is a rich literature that utilizes state, province, and other subregional data to evaluate the causes and effects of civil litigation. Yet, issues of spatial dependence are often neglected in this context. In the current study, we argue that civil litigation may be subject to spatial spillovers, in which litigation in one region influences litigation in nearby regions. We then test for spatial effects using six years (2011–2016) of province-level data from China. Our results provide strong evidence of jurisdiction-level spillovers, even after controlling for spatially correlated regressors and shocks. Additionally, we find that ignoring spatial processes can lead to a systematic underestimation of the influence of civil litigation determinants.

Case Note: Fitisemanu v. United States: U.S. Citizenship in American Sāmoa and the Insular Cases

This article considers the problematic place of individual American Sāmoans who have been denied full membership within the American political community, first due to the colonialist arcane notion of being unfit for full membership in the American community on racial and cultural grounds embodied in the Supreme Court’s Insular Cases, and second, because these same cases have been repurposed, ostensibly to protect Indigenous culture. To that end, this article reviews the United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Fitisemanu et al.v. United States, where a split panel reversed the U.S. District Court recognition of birthright citizenship to those born within American Sāmoa. The Appeals Court’s decision determined that American Sāmoa was not within the scope of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution through a controversial repackaging of the so-called Insular Cases, which have been criticized as being emblematic of racialist and colonialist jurisprudence that justified the denial of rights to inhabitants of American colonial territories.

From a Distance: A "Disciplined" Democracy Comes Undone in Myanmar

The author of this essay, a practicing lawyer and clinical law instructor, encountered remote learning in Myanmar (AKA Burma) while serving as international leader on a university clinical teaching initiative, under the auspices of the European Union and British Council. A military coup d’état last year abruptly disrupted that country’s transition to democratic governance, with arrests, detentions, killings and curtailing of fundamental rights. The coup has prompted two questions for both short- and long-term consideration for justice educators: First, what are the options—and then obligations—for those who teach and otherwise engage with colleagues abroad, to support their institutional or other political struggles? Second, to what extent should collaboration in initiating or strengthening legal educational innovation—grounded in principles of access to justice and rule of law—continue in the context of a stratocracy or similar authoritarian state?

Rebuilding Lost Identity: Rethinking Korean Reunification as an Imagined Community of Shared National Identity

In 2018, North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un expressed his desire to write a new history of Korean reunification. South Korean President Moon Jae-in reciprocated Kim’s desire in August 2019 when Moon set the ambitious deadline of the year 2045 for a peaceful reunification of the Koreas. The rhetoric of the two Koreas placed a renewed spotlight on the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. While contemporary literature on Korean reunification primarily focuses on the differences between the two Koreas, little attention has been paid to how a unified Korean identity can play a crucial rule in sustaining the reunification effort. This article seeks to bridge that gap by arguing that a unified Korea should be understood as a reimagined community of two distinct nations joined by a shared identity. To support this argument, this article looks first to the theoretical framework of Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism and applies the framework to the history of Korea’s shared identity. Second, the article analyzes the evolution of the national identities of both South Korea and North Korea since 1945, when the Koreas were divided along the thirty-eighth parallel. Third, the obstacles to reunification are examined. Finally, suggestions on how reunification of the two Koreas could be sustained through shared national identities are explored.

Legalizing China's Economic Coercion Toolkit

China is in the late stages of developing a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which is essentially a digital, sovereign currency lacking convertibility to physical cash. This initiative is a significant innovation in currency systems, not yet implemented by any other country. China will face unique challenges in its CBDC project. As a first mover in this space, Chinese leaders are no longer able to study the successes and failures of other nations who have previously attempted to launch a CBDC. Yet, Beijing leadership may draw on experiences from its own prior reforms and governance challenges. This article will highlight three governance principles, developed through the reforms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, that will give Beijing a unique advantage as a first mover in the CBDC race: (1) dual-track transition systems, (2) regional experimentation, and (3) rapid construction of regulatory systems. This paper hopes to show how China is taking a distinct approach to the initiative compared to competing states, an approach that is engrained in China’s governance experience since the late 1970s. In conclusion, I argue that China’s recent experience in a variety of transformation initiatives provides its leadership and institutions unique principles that will advantage China’s CBDC project, especially when compared to competitors working to establish their own CBDC such as the United States and European Union.