China’s legal approach to national security threats, and emergency situations in general, is more complex and subtle and thus richer in implications for comparative law and for understanding transnational legal influence. … Given China’s sheer scale and international importance, its legal reaction to any major issue is a substantial part of the worldwide response. China’s discussion, adoption, and use of legal means to address identified dangers – especially terrorism – have invoked concerns familiar from post-9/11 developments elsewhere and have engaged international legal norms, including ones that emerged in the wake of 9/11 and others that predated and survived it. The Chinese example thus does, or at least should, matter.
Seen from the great height of global comparison, the number of new anti-terrorism laws that criminalize terrorism, block terrorism financing, develop new international monitoring mechanisms to spot terrorists, and increase vigilance about the international movements of persons is extraordinary. Up close, however, widespread compliance [with the Security Council Resolution 1373 framework] looks less like a tightly coordinated strategy than diverse variations on a theme.
The administration of George W. Bush left the international credibility of the United States in tatters and seriously undermined any U.S. claim to leadership in human rights and the rule of law. The Obama administration can begin to repair the damage wrought by the Bush administration by establishing a healthy new respect for public international law. Reengaging the international community multilaterally to develop international law further would be widely welcomed after eight years of unilateral and dictatorial engagement.