China has long been the object of several preconceived ideas in the eyes of the Western public, among which the image of a despotic régime without law has certainly been one of the most vivid and enduring. Li Chen's Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes is situated in the wake of recent studies that challenge traditional yet still current views on Chinese law shaped by a long history of “legal orientalism.”1 It investigates more specifically the origins of these standpoints in the context of Sino-Western encounters during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (p. 2). Chen refutes the clash-of-civilizations thesis that has often followed from the false assumption that Chinese and Western law are incommensurable. He argues that these misrepresentations contributed to the straining of Sino-Western relations during the nineteenth century, and cautions us against similar prejudices that have continued to shape our judgment on China over these past decades (p....

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