Government & Military

He Fan

The wunderkind making U.S. Supreme Court justices famous in China.

Judge, Chinese Supreme People’s Court

At all of 39 years old, wunderkind He Fan is already a judge on China’s highest court and a public intellectual. In his spare time, he has translated at least 10 books on U.S. law into Chinese, including Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. An October 2014 report by state news agency Xinhua credited He’s translations with introducing the U.S. Supreme Court to many Chinese and making its justices famous there. He works out of the legal reform office at China’s Supreme People’s Court, and is evidently an internationalist at heart, but that does not mean his views align neatly with one ideological camp in the United States. When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, He wrote a widely read and affectionate farewell; after Donald Trump criticized a federal judge who suspended an immigration order, He called Trump an “enemy of the rule of law.”

In a modern twist, and a contrast to relatively taciturn U.S. justices, He is also something of a social media maven, with a popular WeChat account and more than 119,000 followers on the microblogging platform Weibo. On WeChat, he writes about policy and law issues in China and the United States; on Weibo, although he shares the occasional food photo, most of his chatter is about books — those he’s written, and those he’s reading, from the works of Salman Rushdie to a philosophical investigation of whether Santa Claus exists. In one, He celebrates the start of summer by organizing his heaving bookshelf. In another, he has snapped a photo of an Abraham Lincoln quote declaring, “Good books build character.”

(Photo credit: China CCP Newsnet)

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