Empirical studies of the Chinese legal system have proliferated in recent decades. This trend has only been accelerated by greater generation of data on the one hand and methodological innovations in the social sciences on the other. Empirical legal research promises to enrich our understanding of legal phenomena and to furnish a knowledge base for debating legal doctrine and theory. But the apparent objectivity of numbers can also mislead those unfamiliar with the assumptions and extrapolations underlying many of the conclusions drawn from quantitative research.
With the goal of fostering critical and constructive discussion about this emerging field, Philip K.H. Wong Centre for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law successfully held a hybrid conference on “The Empirical Turn in Chinese Legal Research: Challenges, Strategies, and Solutions” on January 9 and 10, 2023. Initiated by Dr Benjamin Chen, this conference invited distinguished scholars from China and around the world to present their cutting-edge projects. They were grouped into six sessions and provided key insight into empiricism in Chinese legal research, empirical studies, legal documents as data, data and sampling, fallacies and fixes, as well as the limitation of quantitative empiricism. Hundreds of participants attended the hybrid conference to learn from and interact with the speakers.