Duping Religious Freedom: Law, Politics and Economics of Regulating Religious Fraud in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong

A/Prof. Jianlin Chen1

1University Of Melbourne, Australia

Religious fraud is an ongoing legal concern in China, and surprisingly, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Despite a proud commitment to liberal democratic notions of religious liberty that otherwise preclude determination of religious falsity, Taiwan and Hong Kong have not shied away from legal interventions purported to protect the public from perceived charlatans purveying religious falsehoods. In this presentation, I will examine 1) what are the legal tools that have been employed to tackle perceived religious fraud in the three jurisdictions, 2) what the reasons for the surprising similarities and divergences in the legal tools across the three jurisdictions, and 3) what are the possible counter-productive effect of these legal tools.


Jianlin grew up in Singapore and Taiwan. He obtained his LLB from National University of Singapore, and his LLM and JSD from the University of Chicago. He is qualified to practice in Singapore and New York. He joined the Melbourne Law School in 2017 after starting his academic career at the University of Hong Kong in 2011. Bilingual in English and Chinese, Jianlin publishes widely, with a monograph from Cambridge University Press, and in law journals such as Columbia Journal of Asian Law, Law & Social Inquiry, 北大法律评论, among many others. His current primary research interests are in the areas of law & religion and criminal law, with a particular focus on legal responses to religious and/or sexual fraud, and through a combination of comparative perspectives and economic analysis.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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