By Jackson Benning, contributor 

Last Nov. 16, students (including me) from the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University visited the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Tony Leung, the first Chinese American federal judge in the state of Minnesota.  We were all students from two classes taught by Professor Chang Wang at our respective universities. 

The beauty of the United States Federal Building in St. Paul, did not escape the students.  Marble floors; pristine, high ceilings; and the sheer silence of the building made us speechless.  For most of us, this is the first visit to a federal courtroom.  Everyone was excited. 

As we entered Judge Leung’s courtroom, none of us wanted to break the silence in the courtroom.  The courtroom was spacious with nothing on the walls except for the seal of the United States and a very intricate clock.  Judge Leung walked into the room with a typical court entrance, with everyone standing and waiting to get permission to sit down.  Instead of inviting us to sit though, he invited us to sit closer, at counsel table and in the jury box.  It was at that point that I realized how nice and humble of a man Judge Leung was. 

Besides being the first Asian-Pacific American to serve on the federal bench in Minnesota, Leung was also the first Asian-American judge in Minnesota, appointed to the state court in 1994.   

By Jennifer Marcus Newton

Ying Li was just 8 years old when she began studying traditional Chinese dance.  Two years later, she added voice training to the mix.  And it wasn’t long before she felt a growing passion for both.But instruction was demanding and required absolute focus, commitment and physical stamina.  From the get-go, Li and her peers were expected to approach dance and voice instruction like real professionals.  There were no missed practices unless a student was seriously ill. 

The goal was the same for every student: Be the best. 

Li grew up in the northeastern coastal city of Dalian in China’s Liaoning Province.  With a climate similar to Boston, Li recalls snowy days as she settled in for long bus rides across the city with her parents and a friend, a fellow dance student, to attend a prestigious arts program several times a week.  If her parents weren’t able to accompany her, her friend’s parents would instead. 

Dance and voice training were considered extracurricular pursuits and took place after the regular school day.  They were by invitation only.   

Though it may sound like fairly extreme expectations for a child, not to mention a grueling schedule for just about anyone, maintaining her commitment to pursuing excellence in her voice and dance training came naturally for Li.  She excelled at both and continued to study voice and dance in college, eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Traditional Chinese Dance Education from Shenyang Conservatory of Music. 

By He Xiaping, trip coordinator

On July 19, 40 students, two teachers and two school administrators from Loudi No. 1 Middle School, Hunan Province, along with their vice principal, director and two other English teachers were greeted by their host families at Fourth Baptist Church School in Plymouth.  Thus began their nine-day visit to Minnesota, a trip they have been vying for with hundreds of other students from Loudi during the past year.   

This group of students (equivalent of U.S. high school freshmen) were selected from the school’s international study classes.  Their participation is voluntary and their families paid all their trip expenses.

By Greg Hugh -


confucious institute-logo-webThe American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has joined a growing chorus* of voices calling on North American universities to rethink their relationship with Confucius Institutes (CI), the international chain of [Chinese] state-sponsored Chinese-language programs embedded in partner schools abroad, whose policies critics say are anathema to academic freedom.  In a statement issued by the AAUP, it asserts “North American universities permit Confucius Institutes to advance a state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

Evidently there is also some doubt within China as to whether or not funding for the Confucius Institutes can be better spent at home educating its own rural citizens.  Recently, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong read aloud a letter written by President Xi Jinping at a ceremony in Beijing celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute (CI) program.  The letter was celebratory, lauding the CIs “unremitting efforts for world peace and international cooperation.”  The effort is certainly there: the reach of CIs, which teach Chinese language and culture, has grown immensely.  In the program’s 10 years of existence, the Hanban - a Chinese government agency affiliated with the Ministry of Education and responsible for managing the program - has established 457 CIs and 707 Confucius Classrooms (a related program designed for primary and secondary schools) around the globe.  By the end of 2013, CIs had attracted 850,000 registered students since China first established a CI in South Korea in 2004.  But despite eye-catching numbers, the CIs have been anything but an unqualified success.  Not only have American partners begun fighting back against what they view as threats to academic freedom, many Chinese also view the soft-power initiative as a waste of money.

By Chang Wang, contributor

[Editor’s note: This is the final remarks of Professor Chang Wang to “Legal Research in American Law: The Westlaw Approach” class at China University of Political Science and Law, the largest law school in the world. Wang is chief research and academic officer at Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Since 2007, Wang has been lecturing legal research based on West’s Analysis of American Law and Westlaw at top law schools in the U.S., China and Europe. His lectures also have been viewed widely online at Erya Education and Chaoxing Academic Videos, two premier online learning providers in China. His bilingual textbook “Legal Research in American Law,” dedicated to the University of Minnesota and Thomson Reuters where the author “found and read the law”- is a bestseller on Amazon China.  The lecture was delivered on July 4, 2014. China Insight has exclusive rights to publish this article in its entirety.] 

First and foremost, I’d like to thank all of you for joining me to explore the fascinating world of American law and Westlaw™/WestlawNext™. 

As I’m sure you remember, we started our journey by comparing common law and civil law. 

As a common law country, the United States and its legal system are deeply rooted in precedent, or Stare Decisis, relying heavily on courts’ interpretations of both codified law and previous judicial opinions.  This doctrine of precedent helps ensure the predictability, consistency and integrity of the American legal system. 

In contrast, notwithstanding its civil law framework, current Chinese law is a “socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics,” a legal system designed to support “socialism” and the Chinese Communist Party (CPC).  In China, the law is used primarily as a tool to reinforce party rules and strengthen its policies; the party itself operates outside the law. 


Terms Of Use

Terms of Use All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher. For permission requests, contact [email protected] with subject line “Permission request.”


CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

CHINAINSIGHT is the only English-language American newspaper to focus exclusively on connections between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Our goal is to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and business environments and to foster U.S.-China cultural and business harmony.