Colin Hawes is Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He also serves on the management committee of the Australia China Relations Institute.
Dr. Hawes joined the UTS Law Faculty in 2005 after obtaining his PhD at the University of British Columbia and practising law in Vancouver, Canada. He has published numerous articles on Chinese law and society and Chinese corporate governance in international journals such as Law & Society Review and the American Journal of Comparative Law. His second book, The Chinese Transformation of Corporate Culture (Routledge Press 2012) traces the emergence of a uniquely Chinese hybrid corporate form that combines economic, social and political ends. A Japanese edition of the book was published by Chuo University Press in 2015.
Colin is interested in the intersection between corporations, law and culture: how cultural values impact on the way that corporations behave in different societies, and how multinational business corporations can be held accountable for their actions.
His recent research focuses on the Chinese corporate ecosystem and the embedding of legal culture in contemporary Chinese legal practice, including the growth of legal precedents, the creative interpretation of corporate law by Chinese judges, and the impact of technology on the operation of the Chinese legal system.
Colin strongly believes in the value of internationalizing legal education. He has been invited by leading international universities to teach law courses or to conduct research as a visiting professor, including Oxford University (UK), China University of Politics & Law (Beijing), South-Western University of Politics & Law (Chongqing), University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University (Canada), and National Taiwan University in Taipei.Colin has also advised Chinese and international business executives and corporations on cross-cultural legal issues and minimizing the risks of cross-border legal disputes.
Can supervise: YES
- Chinese corporate culture and ecosystems
- Corporate accountability
- Chinese corporate governance and banking reforms
- Judicial reforms and judicial interpretation in China
- Chinese Business Law
- Chinese Legal Reform
- East Asian Legal Systems
- Corporate Law
Hawes, C 2012, The Chinese Transformation of Corporate Culture, 1, Routledge, UK.
In recent years, Chinese policymakers and corporate leaders have focused significant attention on the concept of corporate culture. This book will reveal the political, social and economic factors behind the enormous current interest in corporate culture in China and provide a wide range of case studies that focus on how large corporations like Haier, Huawei and Mengniu have attempted to transform their cultures, and how they represent themselves as complying with the Chinese governments interpretation of "positive" corporate culture. Hawes demonstrates how the foreign concept of corporate culture has been re-defined in China to fit the Chinese political, social and cultural context. He examines how this re-definition of corporate culture reflects a uniquely Chinese conception of the purposes and social functions of the capitalist business corporation and how the Chinese Communist Partys active promotion of "socialist" corporate culture evidences a shift in the Partys identity towards a business-friendly champion of corporate and economic development. This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of Asian Studies, Business and Management and Chinese studies.
Hawes, C 2006, The Social Circulation of Poetry in the Mid-Northern Song: Emotional Energy And Literati Self-Cultivation, 2, State University of New York Press, New York, USA.
Hawes, C & Young, A 2019, 'The Dao of CSR: Towards a Holistic Chinese Theory of Corporate Social Responsibility', European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 165-204.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Widespread corporate scandals involving corruption, environmental pollution, IP theft, and food/product safety demonstrate that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has not yet taken root among Chinese business firms. One major reason is that Chinese managers view CSR as a foreign concept, an externally imposed set of rules, that fails to resonate with their internal worldview. This paper proposes a new approach to CSR based on “vital energy” (qi) circulating within an organically-integrated moral cosmos (dao) – a traditional Chinese ecological worldview that overcomes cultural barriers to acceptance, while simultaneously drawing on insights from contemporary behavioural economics and materials science. The paper provides Chinese conceptual tools to transform an externally imposed burden on business firms into an internally generated, ecologically situated, creative and productive corporate evolution.
Hawes, C 2018, 'How Chinese Judges Deal with Ambiguity in Corporate Law: Suggestions for Improving the Chinese Case Precedent System', Australian Journal of Asian Law, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-22.
This paper examines how Chinese judges struggle with ambiguity in legal statutes. I contrast the typical tools used by common law judges to resolve ambiguity with equivalent methods used by Chinese courts, noting that both interpretive systems have serious limitations, leading to unfairness in some cases. I then demonstrate the defects of the current Chinese approach by critically reviewing a series of Chinese court judgments on the shareholder’s right to seek information in the PRC Company Law.
Despite the recently implemented Guiding Cases system, Chinese courts still regularly produce inconsistent interpretations of the same legal provisions, leading to unpredictable and unsatisfactory outcomes for litigants. To solve this problem, in the third part, I propose delegating publication of persuasive Guiding Cases to the level of regional High Courts, with the Supreme People’s Court only stepping in to resolve intra-regional inconsistency. I also recommend clarifying the rules for using online judgments drawn from the China Judgments Network as a supplement to the Guiding Cases. This modification would make the Guiding Case system much more responsive to interpretive gaps in the law, and it would assist individual judges struggling to resolve difficult legal disputes.
This paper critiques the current Chinese corporate governance framework and the OECD Corporate Governance Principles on which the Chinese framework is largely based through detailed analysis of public disclosures by four prominent Chinese ICT firms. These include State-controlled firms (China Telecom & China Mobile), mixed ownership (ZTE), and privately-controlled firms (Huawei Technologies). The paper argues that neither Chinese nor international corporate governance norms deal adequately with the complex group structures that are so common among large Chinese firms. It also reveals deficiencies in the rules on independent directors, supervisory committees, and Chinese Communist Party committees as they are applied by Chinese ICT firms. The paper concludes with reform proposals that would provide more useful information and better protection to outside investors and public stakeholders in the unique Chinese corporate environment.
Hawes, C, Lau, K-LA & Young, A 2017, 'Introducing the One-Yuan Chinese Company: Impacts of the 2014 PRC Company Law Amendments on Shareholder Liability and Creditor Protection', Company Lawyer, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 163-168.
Following amendments to the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China in 2014 (the 2014 Company Law), which removed minimum registered capital requirements for most limited liability companies (LLCs), it is now theoretically possible to establish a Chinese company with only 1 yuan of capital.
This is a significant change to the Chinese corporate regulatory regime. It is not unusual in civil law jurisdictions to require relatively high levels of registered capital—in Germany, the Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), which is roughly equivalent to the LLC, still sets a minimum capital requirement of €25,000.2 Yet China’s capital requirements were among the highest in the world until the 2014 amendments. Prior to 2006, the PRC Company Law required shareholders establishing an LLC to collectively pay in at least 500,000 yuan (approximately €60,000, or US$80,000) in cash or equivalent-value assets over a regulated time period in order for the LLC’s registration to be valid.3 While the 2006 Company Law reduced this amount to 30,000 yuan for an LLC with two or more shareholders, and 100,000 yuan for a single-shareholder LLC, no opportunity was given for previously registered companies to reduce their capital without going through a cumbersome procedure involving shareholder and creditor approval.4
In the official announcement of the 2014 amendments, the reasons given for removing minimum capital requirements included making the company registration process cheaper, more efficient, and less complex; reducing government interference in the market decisions of investors; and replacing a paternalistic administrative regulatory system with a market-based disclosure and monitoring system. The ultimate aim is to stimulate innovation among businesses and foster economic development.
These reasons could have been drawn almost verbatim from the pages of vocal critics of the European company law legal capital rules.6 These critics have roundly attacked the normal jus...
Hawes, C 2015, '‘Framing’ Chinese hi-tech firms: A politicaland legal critique', Australian Journal of Corporate Law, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 34-57.
Governments in many countries, including the United States, Australia and
Canada, have been highly suspicious of the political motives of Chinese
business firms seeking to invest in resource industries and infrastructure
development overseas. This article uses the case of the Chinese hi-tech
firm, Huawei Technologies, to demonstrate the tendency of the United
States and other governments to frame their analysis based on unreliable or
biased sources and outdated understanding of the Chinese legal and
corporate environment. The inevitable results of such misguided framing will
be schizophrenic foreign policy decisions, increased international tensions,
higher costs for consumers, and retaliation by the Chinese government
against international firms doing business in China.
Hawes, C, Lau, A & Young, A 2015, 'Lifting the Corporate Veil in China: Statutory Vagueness, Shareholder Ignorance, and Case Precedents in a Civil Law System', Journal of Corporate Law Studies, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 341-376.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper surveys almost 300 court judgments in which shareholders have been sued for corporate debts under Article 20 of the PRC Company Law. The frequency of “veil lifting” can indicate how much weight is ascribed in China to fundamental corporate law principles like limited liability and the separate legal identity of the corporation. Our survey finds that shareholders were found liable for corporate debts in over 75% of cases, a significantly higher rate of veil-lifting than in jurisdictions elsewhere in the world. We challenge previous scholars’ explanations of this phenomenon. We also argue that statutory vagueness has led to unfair and inconsistent veil-lifting judgments in a number of cases. The current interpretative system of Supreme People’s Court Regulations and Guiding Cases needs modification to ensure that inconsistencies in adjudication are ironed out in a more timely manner.
Hawes, C, Lau, K-LA & Young, A 2015, 'The Chinese ‘Oppression’ Remedy: Creative Interpretations of Company Law by Chinese Courts', American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 559-600.
Hawes, C & Kong, S 2013, 'Primetime Dispute Resolution: Television Mediation Shows in China's 'Harmonious Society'', Law & Society Review, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 739-770.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Through a case study of reality TV mediation shows, this article joins the debate about the recent promotion of formal and informal mediation by the Chinese government, what some scholars have called a turn against law (Minzner 2011). We identify three converging reasons for the sudden popularity of mediation shows on Chinese primetime television: (1) the desire of TV producers to commercially exploit interpersonal conflicts without fanning the flames of social instability; (2) the demands of official censors for TV programming promoting a harmonious society; and (3) the requirement for courts and other government institutions to publicly demonstrate their support for mediation as the most appropriate method for resolving interpersonal and neighborhood disputes. Cases drawn from two top-rated mediation shows demonstrate how they privilege morality and human feeling (ganqing) over narrow application of the law. Such shows could be viewed merely as a form of propaganda, what Nader has called a harmony ideologyan attempt by the government to suppress the legitimate expression of social conflict. Yet while recognizing that further political, social, and legal reforms are necessary to address the root causes of social conflict in China, we conclude that TV mediation shows can help to educate viewers about the benefits and drawbacks of mediation for resolving certain narrow kinds of domestic and neighborhood disputes.
Rights defence lawyers in contemporary China have attracted tremendous attention. Their supporters take them as a leading force for social and political change toward justice, the rule of law and democracy, whereas the hardliners of the ruling Chinese Communist Party regard them as a dangerous hostile force of political dissent. In this article, we will trace the resumption and development of the legal profession in China since the 1980s after its forced disappearance for three decades. Then we will explore the emergence of a group of rights defence lawyers in the context of recent economic, social and political changes. The article will end with a discussion about the potential role of rights defence lawyers in Chinas social and political transformation.
Hawes, C 2011, 'Allies of the State: China's Private Entrepreneurs and Democratic Change, by Jie Chen and Bruce J. Dickson', The China Journal, vol. 66, no. July, pp. 205-207.
Hawes, C & Chew, EK 2011, 'The cultural transformation of large Chinese enterprises into internationally competitive corporations: case studies of Haier and Huawei', Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 67-83.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Chinese government has recently introduced a policy requiring all large Chinese business corporations to transform their corporate cultures with the aim of increasing their competitiveness on the international stage. This paper traces the origins of the policy to the outstanding performance of a small number of Chinese firms since the late 1980s, a phenomenon attributed by the CEOs of these firms to effective implementation of cultural values change among their workforces. We give detailed accounts of two such firms, Haier Group and Huawei Technologies, demonstrating how they have utilized cultural management techniques to improve their employees' performance. We also identify some negative aspects of their approach to cultural management that may impede these firms in their efforts to become truly international corporations.
Hawes, C 2010, 'Culture, Literature, and the Contradictions of Socialist Capitalism in Chinese Corporate Magazines', Asian Studies Review, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 41-61.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Most large Chinese corporations publish e-magazines to which employees are encouraged to contribute on various topics, ranging from management and work issues to creative writing and other creative "cultural" work such as poetry, calligraphy and photography. These e-magazines provide a central venue where employees can learn about what is important to the .firm's management. They are one of the major vehicles through which large Chinese corporations promote their organisational cultures to employees and inculcate their corporate values. Yet at the same time, they give employees the opportunity to showcase their own talents to a wide audience within the corporation. A close reading of contributions to the e-magazines of several corporations reveals a combination of sometimes contradictory values, including Western management ideas, socialist-style collectivism and lyrical poetic escapism. This mixture reflects the complexity of "subcultures" within Chinese corporations in a rapidly transforming society. It also demonstrates that corporate magazines can be both a management tool for improving firm performance and a vehicle for promoting ideals such as the cultural betterment and self-realisation of employees.
Hawes, C 2010, 'Review of Donald C. Clarke, ed., China's Legal System: New Developments, New Challenges', The China Journal, vol. 63, no. January, pp. 192-195.
Hawes, C 2010, 'Review of Guobin Yang, The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online', The China Journal, vol. 64, no. July, pp. 245-247.
Hawes, C 2008, 'Representing Corporate Culture in China: Official, Academic and Corporate Perspectives', The China Journal, vol. 59, no. January, pp. 33-61.
In fact, a strong culture has almost always been the driving force behind continuing success in American business.\n102 This may be true as a general proposition, yet Guthrie also argues that there has been a 'fundamental shift' in China from what he called 'socialist management style' to a more modern, Western-influenced 'formal rational management style where authority is less particularistic, more impersonal, more dependant on formalized institutions'.103 As evidence of this 'shift', he identifies the increasing use of 'organizational rules, job descriptions, grievance-filing procedures, mediation committees, workers' representative committees, promotion tests, and formal hiring procedures', all of which 'constitute the firm-level structures of these emerging formal rational bureaucratic systems'.104 It may be that Guthrie was writing before the most recent reassertion by the CCP of its right to build a strong presence within business corporations of all types, and before the official promotion of corporate culture began strongly to influence the self-representation of Chinese firms. In other words, the emergence of a unique Chinese representation of 'corporate culture' should not be surprising in a society where 'culture' has for centuries been intimately associated with national renewal and moral cultivation, and where the 'work unit' has been viewed as a place where culture and work are united.107 I see the corporate culture phenomenon in China as a pragmatic process of adaptation and accommodation by various corporate stakeholders, including the CCP, corporate managers and employees, through which the non-Chinese concept of corporate culture has been reinterpreted to fit into the Chinese political, social and business context-a context that has itself undergone dramatic changes in the past three decades.
Hawes, C 2007, 'Interpreting the PRC Company Law through the Lens of Chinese Political and Corporate Culture', The University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 36-42.
Hawes, C & Chiu, T 2007, 'Foreign Strategic Investors in the Chinese Banking Market: Cultural Shift or Business as Usual?', Banking and Finance Law Review, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 203-237.
Provides discussion and insight into issues and problems which confront both the legal and financial communities in Canada. Information is arranged in four sections: articles, commentaries on recent developments in banking in Canada and internationally, case notes and books reviews.
Hawes, C 2006, 'The Yijing And Chinese Politics: Classical Commentary And Literati Activism In The Northern Song Period, 960-1127.', Journal Of Asian Studies, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 608-609.
Hawes, C & Chiu, T 2006, 'Flogging a dead horse? Why Western-style corporate governance reform will fail in China and what should be done instead', Australian Journal of Corporate Law, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 25-54.
In terms of legislation and regulation, China's corporate governance regime is now as comprehensive as that of developed Western nations. Yet it has failed to result in noticeable improvements in the performance of Chinese corporate managers. In this article, we argue first, that the continuing failures of corporate governance in China are partly due to Western-style reforms being inappropriate in the current Chinese corporate context. Second, even the effectiveness of such reforms in their countries of origin, such as the United States, is highly doubtful. In some cases, such as creating incentives to `align' the interests of management with shareholders, the reforms have been counterproductive. In other cases, such as the system of establishing independent directors and auditors, reforms have not stopped the abuses that they were designed to address. To transpose these dubious reform methods to China and expect them mysteriously to succeed in the Chinese legal environment is like flogging a dead horse. Instead of tinkering further with imported corporate governance rules, we propose some innovative and culturally specific measures that the Chinese Government, media and business leaders can take to foster greater public awareness of the importance of good corporate governance and to begin to create a culture of compliance among Chinese corporations.
Hawes, CSC 2006, 'The Yijing and Chinese politics: Classical commentary and literati activism in the Northern Song period, 960-1127.', JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 608-609.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Hawes, C 2003, 'Seeds of Dissent: The Evolution of Published Commercial Law Court Judgments in Contemporary China', Australian Journal of Asian Law, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-41.
This article traces the evolution of published Chinese court judgments from the early to late 1990s, focusing on the official anthology Selected Cases from the People?s Courts. The author translates several examples demonstrating growing awareness among the judiciary of the importance of due process and transparency in the judicial system. Analysis of commentaries to these cases suggests that Chinese judges are also becoming more willing to publicly express divergent and dissenting opinions about legal issues that arise when cases are adjudicated. The latter part of the article then discusses a fascinating experiment by the Guangzhou Maritime Court (GMC), perhaps the next logical step in the evolution of Chinese court judgments. This Court currently posts notarised judgment texts on its website, not merely edited versions that were available before. The Court?s judges also write dissenting or separate concurring opinions within their judgments, rather than relegating them to ancillary legal commentaries published elsewhere. The conclusion critically analyses the reasons given by the GMC President for introducing this experiment and notes some obstacles preventing such transparent adjudicative practices from spreading to courts throughout China. The author suggests that reforms in judgment writing and publication are one of many factors that will encourage the future development of 'rule of law' in China.
Kong, S & Hawes, C 2015, 'The New Family Mediator: TV Mediation Programs in China's "Harmonious Society"' in Bai, R & Song, G (eds), Chinese Television in the Twenty-First Century: Entertaining the Nation, Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 33-50.
Hawes, C 2008, 'Corporate CEOs as Cultural Promoters' in Goodman, DSG (ed), The New Rich in China: Future Rulers, Present Lives, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 85-98.
Hawes, C 2006, 'Improving the Quality of the judiciary in China: Recent Reforms to the procedures for appointing, promoting and discharging judges' in MALLESON, K & RUSSELL, PH (eds), Appointing Judges in an Age of Judicial Power: Critical Perspectives fom around the world, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada, pp. 395-419.
Kong, S & Hawes, CS 1970, 'The New Family Mediator TV mediation programs in China's "harmonious society"', Chinese Television in the Twenty-First Century: Entertaining the Nation, Workshop on Chinese Television in the Twenty-First Century - Entertaining the nation, ROUTLEDGE, Australian Natl Univ, AUSTRALIA, pp. 33-50.