Selected Programs on China, Asia, International Relations and Law

Podcast: Jerome A. Cohen on human rights and law in China

SupChina, China Institute, New York, May 17, 2017

"One of the most experienced and respected scholars of Chinese law comments on the current state of human rights and the persecution of lawyers in the PRC." -- By Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo

A Conversation With Ma Ying-jeou

Asia Society, New York, March 1, 2017.

NEW YORK, March 1, 2017 — Former President of the Republic of China, Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou discusses Taiwan's democratic development, as well as relations between the United States, Taiwan, and Mainland China. Jerome A. Cohen, professor of law at New York University, moderates the discussion. (1 hr., 17 min.)

Courtesy Asia Society


A Conversation with Professor Jerome A. Cohen

NYU, Feb. 27, 2017

Professor Jerome Cohen answers the kinds of questions he customarily asks other guest speakers at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute lunch seminars, including questions about his life history, his thoughts, the development of his interest in China and Asia law, and how he arrived at his present situation at NYU and in the world. 

A Conversation With Ai Weiwei

Council on Foreign Relations, New York, November 2, 2016.

Famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei discusses art, politics, human rights, and China's future.

Presider: Jerome A. Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute and Professor, New York University School of Law

Working Towards Peace in the South China Sea

National Committee on US-China Relations, New York, October 18, 2016. 

The following introduction is from National Committee on US-China Relations.

Long-standing disputes over sovereignty in the South China Sea have been escalating in recent years, threatening to disrupt a crucial artery of global trade. Island building activities and dangerous encounters at sea have eroded international confidence in the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the dispute, and the recent ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has added further uncertainty to the political situation, even as it clarified legal questions. Yet no interested party wants conflict, and all claimants have expressed interest in bilateral or multilateral mechanisms for diffusing tension.

Jerome Cohen, one of the foremost authorities on Asian law, discussed the political, legal, and economic ramifications of the present situation in the South China Sea, and analyzed the drivers of geopolitical competition in the region. He also explored potential policy responses, and looked at how we should understand the ambitions of a resurgent China. National Committee board member, and Sidley Austin partner, Robert Pietrzak, moderated the conversation with Professor Cohen on October 18, 2016, in New York City.

This program was part of the National Committee's 2016 CHINA Town Hall, one of over 80 venues across the country. Following Professor Cohen’s presentation, the audience tuned in to a national webcast with Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, in conversation with NCUSCR President Stephen Orlins. They discussed Sino-American relations and answered questions submitted by audience members across the country.

Emerging Frontiers in the South China Sea

2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, Washington D.C., April 5, 2016. 

Published on Apr 5, 2016,

The intensification of disputes regarding maritime rights in the South China Sea has brought into focus the political, economic and security implications of island-building. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have all built or expanded islands in the region. The creation or expansion of artificial islands in the South China Sea has the potential to chart new frontiers, and implicates unresolved questions of territorial sovereignty, undersea resources, secure sea-lanes, and the projection of geopolitical power. UNCLOS does not address whether a State’s constructed artificial islands may secure additional rights, though it makes clear that the only islands that can secure territorial rights are “naturally formed area[s] of land.” The legal status of artificial islands is of particular importance when the islands interfere with shipping routes within a State’s territorial sea, or lie in a contested area with overlapping claims. The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision in 2015 to admit the case brought by the Philippines against China regarding China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” has made this question even more topical. China’s decision not to participate might also raise questions concerning the role of international law in this dispute.

• Christina Hioureas, Foley Hoag LLP

• Jerome Cohen, New York University School of Law
• Nong Hong, Institute for China-America Studies
• Oliver Lewis, U.S. State Department
• Paul Reichler, Foley Hoag LLP
• Sienho Yee, Wuhan University School of Law

This event examines the struggles scholars in China face in the pursuit of academic freedom and scholarly knowledge, and what that means for the future of academia in and outside of China.
- Arien Mack
- Mark Frazier
- Robert Quinn
- Jerome Cohen
- Teng Biao
- Adam Braver
- Jewher Ilham
- Carl Minzner

The Governance of China

New York Review of Books, Hong Kong University, January 15-16, 2016

1. Some Legal Vignettes about China (12 minutes): 

How China’s ideology has affected its legal development and the current challenges facing the legal profession


2. Legal and Constitutional Reform (24 minutes): 

How the Chinese Communist Party maintains unfettered power and how law reformers hope to restrain it

China's Crackdown: How Far? How Deep?

Overseas Press Club of America, May 18, 2015

This video was taken during a panel discussion hosted by the Overseas Press Club of America at Club Quarters in New York on May 18, 2015. President Xi Jinping's crackdown on all sources of political diversity inside China is reaching new heights and is being compared with some of the ideological campaigns that Mao Tse-tung once waged.

Gender and Disability Discrimination in China

Bernstein Institute Annual Conference 2015, NYU Law, April 22, 2015

Moderator: Jerome Cohen, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the US Asia Law Institute (USALI)


  • Ira Belkin, Executive Director of USALI
  • Zhou Dan, Chinese Lawyer, Scholar and Activist
  • Sharon Hom '80, Executive Director of Human Rights in China 

Jerome Cohen & Ezra Vogel on Four Decades of Normalizing Relations

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, February 18, 2015

What was the state of Sino-American relations and related domestic politics in the United States and China on the eve of normalization in 1979? What have universities done in the decades since to deepen our understanding? At a National Committee program on February 18, 2015 in New York City, two pioneers of the China field, Jerome A. Cohen and Ezra F. Vogel, reflect on what Americans were thinking in the late 1960’s about opening the door to China and their impressions of China when they first visited more than 40 years ago. What did Americans know about China then, and what was the academic study of China like? How have things changed since?

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations is the leading nonprofit nonpartisan organization that encourages understanding of China and the United States among citizens of both countries.

International Human Rights: North Korea, China and the UN

NYU Law, November 11, 2014

The final session, which was moderated by NYU Law Professor Jerome Cohen, started with his question: "In view of this horrible human rights situation in North Korea, what shall we do to improve the situation?”


  • Donald Gregg, former US ambassador to South Korea and now chairman of the Pacific Century Institute
  • Winston Lord, former US ambassador to China and former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Recent Trends in the South China Sea and U.S. Policy

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 11, 2014

Panel Discussion: Habits of Cooperation/Confidence Building in the South China Sea

  • H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno Ambassador of Indonesia to the European Union
  • Dr. James Manicom Centre for International Governance Innovation,Canada
  • Mr. Jerome Cohen New York University
  • Dr. Alice Ba University of Delaware
  • Dr. Euan Graham S.

China in the World: Human Rights Challenges and Opportunities

NYU Law, April 23, 2013

This is an excerpt from the Human Rights In China and NYU Law School Roundtable, "China in the World: Human Rights Challenges and Opportunities." Jerome A. Cohen, expert on China's legal system and professor of law at NYU Law School describes the complex challenges facing Chinese leaders: "There used to be a New York play called "Stop the World-I Want to Get Off."

China & International Law

UC Berkeley School of Law, Spring 2013

"During my first visit to China, I had the opportunity to have a four hour dinner with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai.  I sat right next to him.  It was a great opportunity,  We discussed a lot of things.  After a couple of hours, I got my nerve up and I thought I could ask him about International Law.  And I said, “Now that China had entered the UN, would China now participate in the International Court of Justice?” Well the laughter that that caused in the room.  People thought I was funnier that Dean Edley. They thought I was some kind of comedian. “Why would China want to send any representatives to that bourgeois imperialist anti-Asian discriminatory anti-Communist court?” They thought I was a comedian and I said, “This is one of the perks of being a great power. You’re going to be expected to participate in the International Law community.” That’s something we’re facing today. Gradually, after entry in the UN, China took part in all kinds of negotiations…Increasingly, the Chinese have trained a cadre of impressive international lawyers in 1971 when China entered the UN." -- Jerome Cohen

Rule of Law in China: A Conversation with Chen Guangcheng

NYU Law, October 10, 2012

In the summer of 2012, and with much fanfare, Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in the U.S. and began his affiliation with the U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI) at NYU Law. USALI co-director Professor Jerome Cohen, who played a central role in the arrangements that brought Chen to this country, engaged Chen in a Q&A in this Milbank Tweed Forum.

Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom: a Round Table on China's Legal System Celebrating the 80th Birthday of Jerome A. Cohen

NYU, September 7, 2010

*Featured Participants:

  • Frank Upham: Wilf Family Professor of Property Law; Co-director, US-Asia Law Institute, New York University
  • R. Randle Edwards: Walter Gellhorn Professor Emeritus of Law, Columbia University
  • Cynthia Estlund: Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law, New York University
  • Stephen Orlins: President of the National Committee on U.S. China Relations
  • Owen Nee: Of Counsel, Jones Day; Lecturer, New York University
  • Hyeon-Ju Rho: Country Director, China, American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative
  • Alex Wang: Senior Attorney; Director, China Environmental Law Project, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Dr. Daniel Yu: Consultant to the US-Asia Law Institute, New York University
  • Jon Van Dyke: Professor of Law, University of Hawaii
  • Margaret K. Lewis: Associate Professor of Law, Seton Hall University


  • Professor Jerome A. Cohen, Co-Director, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law
  • Professor Benjamin Van Rooij, University of Amsterdam; Global Visiting Professor of Law, NYU School of Law

Jerome A. Cohen: Reflections on Fifty Years of Chinese Law

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, April 22, 2010

In this program of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Jerome A. Cohen reflects on a fifty-year career as a pioneer in the field of Chinese and Asian legal studies in the United States. Professor Cohen played an important role in the re-opening of U.S.-China relations and has educated hundreds of government, NGO, legal and corporate leaders.

Jerome Cohen: Is There Law in China? Is There Justice?

Earl Warren College at UC San Diego, April 2008

NYU School of Law professor and China expert Jerome Cohen examines the legal system of the world's largest nation in the 2008 DeWitt Higgs Memorial Lecture sponsored by Earl Warren College at UC San Diego. 

China's Legal System How "Legal?" How "Political?" How "Just?"

Duke University School of Law, February 3, 2006

Join the Asian Law Students Association and International Law Society for a powerful discussion with Professor Jerome Cohen regarding China's legal system. Recorded on February 03, 2006.