June 11, 2005
Chinese Court Websites
A very handy list of Chinese court websites and other court-related on-line resources can be found at the China Court Network's website here. It includes links to an English-language court website and the websites of several provincial, intermediate-level, and basic-level courts.
June 10, 2005
Foreign-Related Case Heard by Basic-Level Court
The China Court Network (中国法院网) reported on June 1st that a foreign-related case had for the first time been accepted for hearing by a Basic-Level People's Court in Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province. [Story] While the many "firsts" claimed in press reports are not always accurate, certainly this is unusual. In 2001, the Supreme People's Court issued rules generally giving Intermediate-Level People's Court original jurisdiction over such cases; the news report here says that the Supreme People's Court and the Zhejiang Higher-Level People's Court, in view of the Yiwu court's "actual circumstances", gave it authority as of June 1st to hear civil and commercial cases involving foreign (including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) interests where the amount in controversy was under 1 million yuan. Apparently it is the only court currently so authorized. Jurisdiction had previously been limited to intermediate courts and above because of their presumed greater sophistication. It is a little hard to see why a court in Yiwu has been considered the first basic-level court sophisticated enough to hear foreign-related cases, while courts in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing are apparently not yet up to standard. It seems to be in the nature of a local experiment that will then be propagated nationwide if successful. Certainly with the inevitable rise in the amount of foreign-related litigation, the intermediate courts will soon find themselves overworked.
June 9, 2005
Visiting Scholar Scheme at Universities Service Centre, Hong Kong
I recently received the following letter from Jean Hung of the Universities Service Centre at Chinese University of Hong Kong regarding the availability of grants to fund visits to the Centre to conduct research. I am posting it here (with some irrelevant material deleted) because the Centre has an excellent collection of periodicals and newspapers (in particular, local fazhibao (法制报)) relevant to research in Chinese law. I had a very productive stay there many years ago and recommend it highly.
It is my pleasure to report to you that we have received a generous donation from the Lee Hysan (Hong Kong) Foundation to support our Visiting Scholar Scheme at USC. The Lee Hysan Visiting Scholar Scheme provides grants to mainland and overseas scholars to visit the Centre for the purpose of conducting research. The grants subsidizes the rental for on-campus accommodation and provides per diem during the period of stay. The period of visit can be between 1 - 3 months.
Apart from giving at least one luncheon seminar during their stay, a Lee Hysan Visiting Scholar is required to support activities organized by the Centre, such as public lectures or other academic events to promote a better understanding of China among students or the general public in Hong Kong.
Candidates for the Scheme are expected to be either established experts or promising young scholars in the field, who have demonstrated experiences in empirical studies. Interested applicants are advised to return to us the application form duly filled, together with a CV and a research proposal of two pages. Graduate student applicants need to submit an additional recommendation letter of their supervisor. Research topics must have either a Mainland or Hong Kong focus. Please refer to our USC website for the application procedure.
Universities Service Centre for China Studies
8/F Tin Ka Ping Building
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Shatin, N.T., HONG KONG
June 8, 2005
CLE in Shanghai: Interpreting the NDRC Rules
The China Committee of the ABA Section on International Law is putting on a breakfast/CLE on June 24th in Shanghai that will look at the role of the National Development Reform Commission in the foreign investment approval process. Here's the descriptive blurb:
Obtaining the Ministry of Commerce's (or its predecessor's) approval of projects has been key for foreign investors wishing to access the PRC market. In July of last year, the State Council issued its Reform of the Investment System Decision, which appeared to signal an important role for the National Development Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and perhaps a significant step in development of a registration system instead of an approval system. However, the Decision was broadly worded and left open the specific procedures to be applied by the NDRC. Of keen interest to foreign investors is how the NDRC registration process will in fact fit with the MOFCOM approval process. The NDRC subsequently adopted the Administration of the Verification of Foreign-invested Projects Tentative Procedures (issued October 9 2004), with the apparent aim of clarifying matters. However, significant questions still remain.
For complete information, click here.
Conference: WTO, China, and the Asian Economies
A conference on WTO, China, and the Asian Economies will be held at Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China on June 25-26. It is jointly organized by faculty from Xi'an Jiaotong University, International University of Japan, and the University of Washington.
For more information, please visit the conference website.
June 7, 2005
New book: Mark Williams, Competition Policy and Law in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan
Mark Williams of Hong Kong Polytechnic University has written the above book, which will be available from Cambridge University Press in September. The publisher's blurb states in part:
This book is the only comprehensive guide to the competition regimes of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chinese developments are placed in the context of the adoption of competition regimes by developing and transitional states world-wide and also in relation to the influence of trans-national organisations on transitional states to adopt market-based economic strategies. The book adopts an inter-disciplinary approach considering the political, economic and legal issues relevant to competition policy adoption. The paradoxical phenomenon of Communist mainland China seeking to adopt a pro-competition law, whilst capitalist Hong Kong refuses to do so, is explained and contrasted with the successful Taiwanese adoption of a competition regime over a decade ago. The underlying economic and political forces that have shaped this unusual matrix are discussed and analysed with a theoretical explanation offered for the existing state of affairs.
For more information, see the publisher's website here.
If readers would care to write a mini-review, this post is open to comments.
Internship available at Washington, DC law firm
I have been asked to post the following announcement. I am told that this would probably be a paid position for at least the summer and might continue into the fall.
A law firm in Washington, DC is seeking a legal intern with native Chinese language ability to assist with research of laws, regulations, interpretations, etc. of the People’s Republic of China. Candidate should also be able to translate and interpret (from Chinese into English and possibly vice versa) highly technical and legal documents with ease. Strong organizational skills a plus. Please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state what areas of law you have worked in. Law firm representative will contact you if interested.
June 6, 2005
New book: Deborah Cao, Chinese Law: A Language Perspective
Deborah Cao has just published a book taking a linguistic approach to Chinese law. Here's an extract from the publisher's blurb:
Studying Chinese law from a linguistic and communicative perspective, this book examines meaning and language in Chinese law. It investigates key notions and concepts of law, the rule of law, and rights and their evolutionary meanings. It examines the linguistic usage and textual features in Chinese legal texts and legal translation, and probes the lawmaking process and the Constitution as speech act and communicative action. Taking a cross-cultural approach, the book applies major Western philosophical thought to Chinese law, in particular the ideas concerning language and communication by such major thinkers as Peirce, Whorf, Gadamer, Habermas, Austin and Searle. The focus of the study is contemporary People's Republic of China; however, the study also traces and links the inherited and introduced cultural and linguistic values and configurations that provide the context in which modern Chinese law operates.
More information from the publisher's website can be found here.
The author is Senior Lecturer at the School of Languages and Linguistics, and also at the Socio-Legal Research Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.
If anyone would like to post a mini-review, this posting is open to comments.
Law-related events in Beijing this week
For anyone in Beijing, the following law-related activities are going on this week:
- Regulation of Financial Governance and Enhancement of Information Disclosure in Chinese Listed Companies, June 7, 6 p.m. (Australian Chamber of Commerce)
- The Chinese IPR System and Trademark Protection, June 9, 8:30 a.m. (Swedish Chamber of Commerce)
June 5, 2005
Detention of lawyers
Yet another lawyer representing a large group of clients in a sensitive case was reported on June 1st in the Financial Times to have been detained. [Story] Zhu Jiuhu (朱久虎) represented hundreds of former oilfield investors in Shaanxi seeking to recover their losses after the government reversed its policy of allowing such operations and seized oil wells. [Background story] Five plaintiff representatives were detained as well. At the same time, the Higher Level People's Court of Shaanxi Province refused to hear their case, reportedly on the grounds that the government was already dealing with the case and that the claims referred to abstract administrative actions. The first reason does not seem legally relevant, but the second reason may hold more water legally if the suit was brought under the Administrative Litigation Law. (That law allows suits over the implementation of rules, but not their content.) The FT report does not give details about the litigation.
As many readers will know, Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠), a lawyer who helped Shanghai residents sue over evictions for redevelopment, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2003 [story], and Guo Guoting (郭国汀), who defended Zheng, was recently banned from practising law for a year.