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Adam Moser (3L) Goes to China

A Student Experience…Adam Moser Goes where Few Foreigners have Gone before

As the world rivets its eyes to the athletes at the 2008 Summer Olympics, hosted in Beijing, China, UC Law student Adam Moser, Class of 2009, will be getting a “bird’s eye view” of the festivities.  And “if work permits I even hope to catch the USA v. South Korea in baseball,” Moser said.  “Tickets are expensive and hard to come by; the baseball tickets were a gift so the least I can do is put them to good use,” Moser laughed in a recent telephone interview.  “The entire country has caught ‘Olympic fever.’  Everyone’s learning the official song and the official clap.  The stakes are high to do it right!”

A third-year law student, Moser has had a long-term relationship with China, having spent five years studying and working there and several summers interning. At the end of this year’s summer break he will have completed an internship with the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, researching relevant laws that apply to current cases and using new public information laws to request and obtain government records.  The Center, started in 1999, has pioneered the use of tort law and environmental law to stop polluters and compensate victims. The organization provides a telephone and email hotline to advise pollution victims.  In 2004, the student clinic component was started. An integral part of American law school experience, Moser said it was considered revolutionary in China. “The teaching of law is more theoretical here since many professors, if not most, have never practiced law,” said Moser. “At the Center students have an opportunity for practical application.”

His position with the Center has afforded Moser opportunities to go where few foreigners have gone before—inside a Chinese courtroom.  He has been able to witness a civil trial involving one of the Center’s clients. “It is rare that a foreigner gets to watch court proceedings here (in China) unless they are a party to the case.  But an even more important highlight for Moser has been attending conferences where “judges frankly discuss why they ‘can’t just follow the law.’” 

He continued, “The Center is very pro-active in encouraging dialogue between lawyers and judges and this has afforded me an opportunity to hear directly from judges the many elements beyond the law that they are ‘forced’ to consider.”

Understanding his interest in China

Recognizing that his interest in China may be considered unusual, Moser spoke about what initially drew him to this area of the world. “Past life not withstanding,” he laughed, “when I was in high school, I took a senior seminar titled “China an Emerging Economic Market.”  The seminar made such an impact on him that he chose to study Mandarin and major in sociology and international studies at Ohio University.

“China’s current manifestation is the culmination of many historical forces.”  Moser comments.  “The past thirty years have been the most politically stable and prosperous China has experienced for centuries.  Much of that prosperity is due to market globalization and capitalism.  Currently, you see all these forces playing out in China and creating a unique and dynamic domestic paradigm that has profound global implications.”  Moser contemplated, “when you add to the rising middle classes of Asia a peak oil scare and global warming concerns – it’s an exciting time, far from the end of history!”

After graduating from Ohio University in 2001, Moser received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study in Taiwan for a year.  He then returned to China to teach at a political science and law university in China’s impoverished northwest.  In 2004, he was offered a job with Immigration and Naturalization Services in Orange County California.  But, “the job offer came nearly six months after I applied and I was already enjoying work and life back in Taiwan at the time, so I declined.”  During Moser’s second stint in Taiwan, in addition to copyediting and translating, he worked as an actor, creating educational TV programs for Taiwanese junior high and high school students. “Law school was always on the horizon.  I originally planned to return to school after two years, but work was fun and China offered so many opportunities to witness the triumphs and tragedies of modern globalization that it kept me enthralled.”

In 2006, Moser decided to attend UC Law.  “While UC’s reputation is strong and its history long and illustrious, it was a feeling of youth and vitality that I got from UC that attracted me.  And of course the Urban Morgan Institute was a big draw; only with its support have I been able to pursue my recent experiences in China,” he said. Working with the Institute and the Human Rights Quarterly has been among his best experience at UC Law. “I looked forward to working with the Human Rights Quarterly for a long time,” Moser said. “In Spring of 2008, I worked on an article by Michael Davis regarding international law and Sino-Tibet relations. Just before the article went to press unrest in China broke out.  For me this highlighted the important role that the Human Rights Quarterly and its scholarship can play in solving violent conflict.”

In addition to his work in China this summer, Moser attended Shandong University in Jinan to work on their human rights journals as part of the developing relationship between UC Law and Shandong. There, he worked for the Human Rights Institute, looking at environmental law and justice issues. “The lessons I learned at Shandong were invaluable and prepared me well for this year,” he said. “I also made contacts that I rely on even today.”

Where He Goes From Here

Moser’s focus at UC Law is international business, environmental and energy law. He plans to make his career in this area with significant work in China, advising international corporations on best practices regarding environmental and energy related concerns.  “Many of the largest corporations already have environmental managers for their China operations, this is a career path that I am targeting,” Moser said.   

As for even more ambitious dreams, he’s also interested in influencing climate change legislation and the regulation of carbon emissions trading. “The current model for international carbon training is not ideal; in fact, most scholars are critical of the current program. It doesn’t significantly accelerate new technology or reduce emissions.  Of course, this type of global emissions trading is still in its infancy and I am optimistic that it can be done right.”  And what about influencing US-Sino relations?  “There are so many untapped areas for cooperation, but the examples so far show that unless both sides are making money, large-scale goodwill projects just don’t get done.  Coal is the backbone of electricity generation in both China and the US and this is an area in which greater cooperation could be mutually beneficial.  Energy markets everywhere are shifting and if China’s very tightly regulated and heavily subsidized coal sector were to open up, it would be good news for internationally-minded energy companies and even better news for local and global environmental health. This is something I would love to work on.  Renewables are sexy and get the attention, but impact wise, cleaning up coal in China would improve over a billion lives.”