Oxford University Professor Matthew Erie gave a lecture Tuesday afternoon about U.S.-China relations in the midst of China's bid to cut down on its corruption cases among domestic and foreign businesses.
Erie’s talk highlighted the numerous challenges U.S. and Chinese lawyers face attempting to practice law across borders. He went on to clarify and explain the laws and institutions in place within the PRC that allow the Chinese authorities to cut down on corruption within companies residing in the state.
Addressing an audience primarily attended by faculty, graduate students, and University residents, Erie explained the current battle against corruption infesting China and lobbied for conversation and discourse about the place of bi-cultural lawyers in the international stage. Erie entertained questions from the audience regarding the United States’ ability to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts as well as China’s future efforts in containing corrupt business dealings within its borders.
In an interview following the lecture, Erie said he chiefly wished for listeners “to better understand how the foreign corrupt practices… lead to the practice itself through internal investigations of lawyers in China.” Erie also added that he wished to “bring knowledge to conversations with law, specifically comparative law, and to understand transnational law [Between China and the US].”
Erie’s lecture drew praise and opened new lines of thought from students and professors alike.
East Asian Studies Professor David Leheny said that Erie's lecture is a really nice extension of the type of work he’s done in the past.
"I think what makes his work remarkably quite different from anyone else I know in the field of Asian studies is the way in which he draws ethnographic insights as well as extraordinarily close attention to the functioning of the law and brings to bear really interesting issues,” Leheny added.
Wilson School first-year graduate student Andi Zhou GS complimented Erie’s talk, noting the lecturer’s clear speaking talent and his sheer knowledge of a previously obscure issue.
“I thought it was very interesting. I thought it was very informative,” Zhou said. “The subject was something that I don’t know enough about and would like to know more about. He was a very good speaker and I thought he answered people asked very candidly and openly."
Erie's message was part of a greater movement let by Princeton’s China and the World Program to bring greater awareness to China’s rising place in the international community. Co-director of the CWP Thomas Christensen, a William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics of Peace and War, noted after the lecture that the program on China and the World “focuses not on China per se but Chinese foreign relations… We have speakers who study the cause of China’s foreign policy, people who study other countries’ policies towards China, China’s multilateralism, China’s International political economy, and China’s security.”Christensen enthusiastically encouraged more students, especially undergraduates, to attend the speaking series. As Erie himself aptly said, “I think inviting scholars like me… is a part of this effort to increase engagement between the Princeton community and China studies internationally.”
The lecture, entitled "(Self-)Disciplining the Corporation: FCPA Practice, Compliance, and Global Anti-Corruption Regimes in China," was held in the Aaron Burr Lecture Hall at 4:30 p.m. and was hosted by the University's China and the World Program.