July 2, 2005
Call for papers: Zeitschrift für Chinesisches Recht (Journal of Chinese Law)
I am reprinting the following from the second page of a recent issue of the above journal:
Call for Papers
Since 1994 the German-Chinese Jurists’ Association and the Sino-German Institute for Legal Studies of the Universities of Göttingen and Nanjing are quarterly publishing the “Zeitschrift für Chinesisches Recht (Journal of Chinese Law)”, formerly known as the “Newsletter of the German-Chinese Jurists’ Association”.
The journal is focusing on issues of contemporary Chinese law and
modern Chinese legal history with a particular emphasis on legal aspects of Chinese economic development and international relations. It seeks to advance practical as well as theoretical analysis of Chinese law.
The journal invites submissions within its scope as set out above to be published in one of its next issues. To guarantee for intellectually stimulating and innovative contributions all submissions will be subject to a review procedure by the editors. Manuscripts (English or German) to be published in the journal’s categories articles, short contributions, documentations and book reviews should be submitted in electronic form and should follow the rules of citation and guidelines for the submission of articles, which can be found at www.ZChinR.de. Previous issues of ZChinR can also be found at www.ZChinR.de.
Please address your manuscripts as well as any inquiries concerning subscription and advertising to:
ZChinR, Sino-German Institute for Legal Studies
22, Hankou Lu, 210093 Nanjing, People’s Republic of China
Tel./Fax: +86 25 8663 7892
July 1, 2005
Due process in traffic law enforcement in Beijing
There has recently been quite a tempest over certain practices of the Beijing police in "remote law enforcement" (非现场执法) of traffic rules. Many streets and intersections are monitored by cameras. When a violation is spotted, the license number of the vehicle is recorded and a fine imposed. The problem is, the police never notify the violator.
There are a few ways you can discover that a fine has been imposed: (1) call the police periodically to ask, (2) go in person to the appropriate office to ask, (3) visit the police website and input your license number, and (4) wait until your annual license renewal, at which point you will be informed and required to pay up before your license is renewed. All of these methods, of course, require that the violator take active steps.
This practice has resulted in a few cases where violators have accumulated enormous fines through repeated violations by, say, parking in a place they didn't know was illegal or going down a one-way street the wrong way every day on the way to work.
I happened to see a show on TV the other day (I am now in Beijing) where this issue was addressed; one of the guest commentators was Prof. Zhan Zhongle of the Beijing University Faculty of Law. The viewpoint of the show was pretty clear: it asked such loaded questions as "Should the police fulfill their duty to notify violators of the violation?" and "Should traffic law enforcement be about reducing violations and increasing traffic safety, or just about collecting fines?" Hmm.
As Prof. Zhan and others reasonably pointed out, not informing the violator of the violation does nothing to reduce traffic violations, which is what the prime purpose of traffic law is supposed to be. Another commentator, a professor at China University of Politics and Law (中国政法大学) whose name I regret to say I do not recall, noted that the relevant law requires the police to notify violators, but does not prescribe any time limit within which they must be notified. The Beijing police were not represented on the show -- I don't know if they were invited to send a representative.
The show also featured video shots of "traffic assistants" (交通协管员) who were secretly photographing cars from a bridge，again for the purpose of recording violations and imposing fines. These were a couple of unsavory-looking characters who attempted to stop the TV crew from recording their activities when they noticed them. There was some discussion over whether evidence gathered from such quasi-police, who have a very bad popular reputation, should be considered valid.
The Beijing police were urged to learn from Jiangsu Province, which has apparently issued a regulation stating that where notice is not given, violations (I think meaning identical violations) stop accumulating after three.
One interesting aspect to this case is that it must be discussed solely in terms of statute, policy, and notions of fundamental fairness. There is no justiciable general constitutional guarantee of due process to which the aggrieved might appeal.
Here are some web references; an English summary can be downloaded here: Download trafficviolations.pdf
June 30, 2005
Cost of rights protection for rural migrant workers
David Kelly of the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore has kindly given his permission to republish his summary/translation of the following interesting news item:
Survey of Costs of Rights Protection for Rural Migrant Workers: Getting 100 Billion Back Will Cost 300 Billion
(Cui Li, China Youth Daily, 2005-6-22)
A Survey Report on Costs of Rights Protection for Chinese Rural Migrant Workers of nearly 30,000 characters was recently produced by the Beijing Youth Center for Legal Aid and Research. The Report consists of four parts: economic cost, time cost, government cost and legal aid cost of protecting mingong [rural migrant worker] rights.
Taking demands for wages as an example, the author, Xiao Weidong says, "In order to press for less than RMB 1,000 in wages, completing all procedures, mingong rights protection means paying at least RMB 920 for various expenditures; at least 11 to 21 days must be spent, equivalent to RMB 550 to 1,050 in work lost. The cost to the country in wages and so on paid to government service personnel, judges and clerks is at least RMB 1,950 to 3,750. The overall is cost between RMB 3,420 and 5,720."
"While not every case needs to go through the complete procedure, this is just a conservative estimate which excludes the costs of city lodgings, meals, transport expenses etc., when mingong have to go many times to and from their hometown to the place of work. But based on 17 cases we investigated, in each case the overall cost went beyond RMB 10,000 ." Xiao Weidong indicated that, according to incomplete statistics of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, to mid-November, 2004, some RMB 100 billion in back wages was owed to the nation's mingong. To get this paid back, society as a whole would have pay 300 billion costs.
Xiao Weidong says they plan to deliver the Survey Report to the National People's Congress, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, and legal institutions of the State Council, in the hope it will prompt people to think about the rights protection system for mingong.
June 29, 2005
U.S. China Law Society Research Fellowship
The U.S. China Law Society is offering fellowships in support of research in the Chinese legal system. The full blurb is below:
The U.S. China Law Society is pleased to announce the launch of the Research Fellowship Program on Democratization, Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in China. This year's program focuses on finding constructive measures to improve the People's Congress System and to build constitutionalism and the rule of law in China. The program plans to fund two fellows for the 2005-06 year. Each research fellow selected would be required to produce a research paper on an important aspect of the reform of the People's Congress System, democratization, development and reform of the constitutional review system, judicial reform and other rule of law issues. We aim to publish the papers in both the U.S. and China.
Please visit our website at www.uschinalawsociety.org to download Application.
The application deadline for the selection of the first fellow is July 30, 2005.
Two additional notes:
(1) As I read the application form, a total of $8,000 is available for both fellowships. No citizenship criterion is stated, but applicants must have an advanced degree (Ph.D., S.J.D., or J.D.) from, or be at the dissertation stage of a doctoral degree at, a U.S. university. Please read the application form to confirm these details.
(2) The application form may be directly downloaded here.
June 28, 2005
Journalists protest detention of colleagues in open letter to Guangdong Higher Level People's Court
The China Digital Times reports that over 2300 journalists from various Chinese publications and websites have signed an open letter to the Guangdong Higher Level People's Court to protest the detention of Southern Metropolis News employees Yu Huafeng and Li Minying, who are serving prison terms for alleged corruption.
The letter states in part: "We are journalists from Southern Metropolis News, Beijing News, First Financial Daily, Evening News, Shanghai Youth Daily, Sina.com and Sohu.com. We are former colleagues of Yu Huafeng and Li Minying, two of the principal defendants in the 'Southern Metropolis News case.' We send this letter based on the following facts and beliefs: We believe it is an unjust case and Yu Huafeng and Li Minying are innocent. A few among us will speak on behalf of the whole group to continue to advocate until we see justice served in this case. We firmly believe it is just a matter of time until justice will prevail. And we believe that sooner is better than later. "
China Digital Times report (including Chinese text of the letter and links to related stories)
June 27, 2005
He Weifang announces in open letter that he will no longer take graduate students in legal history
Noted legal scholar and Beijing University Faculty of Law professor He Weifang has announced in an open letter that he will no longer take graduate students in legal history. In his letter, Prof. He states that the current testing system is too oriented toward students who do well in tests and insufficiently oriented toward selecting those who will be good researchers. The letter states that at a recent meeting of graduate school officials with law school faculty, the vast majority of the latter expressed strong dissatisfaction with the current system, but were told that this was how the Ministry of Education wanted things. Prof. He concludes the letter by stating that this shows that universities do not have the necessary independence, and that the only choice for the weak (such as university faculty) in such situations is to withdraw.
Here are some useful web references (all in Chinese):
June 26, 2005
Government administration of Beijing law firms to follow geography, not bureaucratic rank
As part of what might be called the continued rationalization or modernization of government administration, law firms in Beijing will, as of July 1st, be administered strictly according to their geographical location, as opposed to the current system in which some are administered by district governments and others are administered by the municipal government. In the new system, the district governments will handle the issuing of lawyer licenses and permits for law firm operations, while the municipal government will handle general rule-making and appeals from the decisions of district governments.
This change marks a general trend away from a system of administration in which the key question is one of bureaucratic rank to one in which the key question is one of geography.
The full story is reported in the June 14th issue of the Beijing News (新京报).