Review of Fighting Epidemics with Information and Laws: The Case of SARS in China

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Fighting Epidemics with Information and Laws: The Case of SARS in China
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English
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February 4th, 2017
Abstract

Book Review, Fighting Epidemics with Information and Laws: The Case of SARS in China

Vincent R. Johnson & Brian T. Bagley

24 Penn St. Int’l L. Rev. 157 (2005).

    In Chinese Law on SARS, Chenglin Liu recounts the tale of China’s efforts to cope with the recent SARS epidemic.  The outbreak of SARS coincided with the full session of the 10th National People’s Congress, which elected a new Central Government in response to governmental failures in dealing with the crisis.  The new government’s “proactive” approach to addressing the epidemic was to enact new legislation, republish an important law, and issue authoritative interpretations of existing criminal law provisions.

Liu offers a savvy analysis of why China’s centralized framework initially impeded the fight against SARS, and discusses the new government’s decisions to deal with SARS openly and to adopt an approach that placed a higher priority on public health and safety.  Liu perceptively identifies serious shortcomings in the SARS laws, but also acknowledges their strengths and the progress they represent in building a Chinese legal system.  For these reasons, Chinese Law on SARS is a valuable addition to the emerging English-language literature about the new legal system in China.

Keywords: Chinese Law on SARS, Chenglin Liu, Chinese legal system, epidemic, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (“SARS”), public health regulation, communicable disease, 10th National People’s Congress, Chinese Central Government, Chinese Law Series, William S. Hein & Company.

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