chapter  1
Comparing legal development in China and Vietnam: An introduction
Pages 26

For many decades, global discourse about legal development has been dominated by Western notions of rule of law and liberal democracy. Although this dialogue is diverse and reflects temporal and geographic variations, until comparatively recently it stared down challenges from religious fundamentalism, Fascism, Marxist-Leninism, and other meta-theories. The gradual shift of economic power from the West to northeast Asia over the last forty years, and to China more recently, presents a new and distinctive challenge to Western domination over global development discourse. 1

To explore this phenomenon, we argue that it is necessary to abandon, or at least suspend, the belief that “global culture,” which developed out of the European Enlightenment and diffused worldwide through imperialism and imitation, is an irresistible socializing force. 2 We need to consider the possibility that “global culture,” which now includes northeast Asian influences, does not invariably produce local variations of Western legal development in socialist Asia. 3 The Western model is important but may not be the only reference points for legal development in socialist Asia.