Retired Chinese Vice President of the Beijing Supreme Court set to visit Eastern

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

Eastern will welcome Justice Jingmin Zhai, the retired vice president of the Beijing Supreme Court, 7 p.m. Monday in the Lumpkin Hall Auditorium as part of his weeklong stay in Illinois.

There will be a forum followed by a reception at 8:30 p.m. where audience members can participate in a question and answer discussion.

James Irwin, the Eastern Public Policy Institute Conference Chair, said the visit is about looking at making some changes in China regarding the judicial structure.

Irwin said Zhai is looking more at the “Rule of Law,” which is what our court system is based on in the United States.

Zhai will be speaking through an interpreter at the forum and discussing the possibility of implementing the “Rule of Law” in China after spending a week in Illinois learning about the judicial structure in America.

According to the United States Institute of Peace, the rule of law refers to “an end state in which all individuals and institutions, public and private, and the state itself are held accountable to the law, which is supreme.”

Irwin said although Zhai is retired he still has a great influence in the Chinese court system because of his decorated career and status.

“(China is) much more of a one party system which makes it more of a unique opportunity (to attend the forum),” Irwin said. “We hear and we read certain things about China but here’s your chance to ask them first hand.”

Although the forum is about the “Rule of Law”, Irwin said it will be a shorter presentation and thus offer lots of opportunities for questions during the reception.

Irwin said the forum will help participants expand their horizons without having to go to China and get some exposure to some issues without leaving town.

“(The audience) will get a little perspective on things with what other nations are grappling such as the courts,” Irwin said. “We have our experience and we can compare it to their experience.”

Irwin said students who attend the forum do not have to be a prelaw major to benefit from this session and it will bring people together while breaking down barriers.

“When I go hear a talk it’s nice to hear the two-way interactions,” Irwin said. “This is going to be an excellent opportunity for question and answer.”

Zhai, who is currently the president of the Beijing Legal Association for Multiaspect Mediation, served 27 years as the vice president for the Beijing Supreme Court, which is the highest of three levels of court for the capital of China, according to the press release.

“One thing that is particularly interesting about this man is his career path, which in the United States would not be a typical career path (for the judiciary),” Irwin said. “I think our judges have been in law enforcement but to be the top law enforcement figure in China and also be one of the top justices in the Supreme Court is kind of a double whammy.”

The Asian Heritage Month Committee, Pre-Law Society and the Public Policy Institute are sponsoring the forum.

Before attending the forum on Monday, Zhai will also be in Mattoon at 1 p.m. Saturday for roundtable discussion and luncheon at Webb Hall in Lakeland College.

The luncheon is sponsored by the Coles County Cumberland Bar Association and hosted by The Tapella and Eberspacher Law Firm.


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]