Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I've previously posted about attorney Gao Zhisheng; see this post for links. Now he's in the news again. First, there's an Amnesty International report about an apparent attempt on his life, or at least an attempt to put a scare into him. Second, there is a profile of him in The Observer.
Attached is an email statement dated Jan. 19, 2006 attributed to Gao - I cannot vouch for its authenticity - that protests against the continued surveillance of him and his family: Download statement.pdf.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (State Department) seeks Statements of Interest for projects promoting democracy, human rights, and rule of law in China
The following is a summary of the announcement attached at the end of this post:
The Office for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) of the Department of State announces a call for Statements Of Interest (SOIs) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in China. Organizations are invited to submit statements of interest outlining program concepts and capacity to manage projects that will foster democracy, human rights, transparency, freedom of information and expression, religious freedom, judicial independence, criminal and civil rule of law, civil society, freedom of the press, electoral reform, public participation, labor rights, and media reform in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
DRL seeks to fund projects that will have a direct and lasting impact in China by promoting reforms and structural changes. US-based activities, study tours, scholarships, or exchange projects are strongly discouraged. The majority of activities should address the PRC, Hong Kong or Taiwan directly. Projects that have a strong academic or research focus will not be highly considered. DRL strongly discourages health, technology, or scientific projects unless they have an explicit democracy, human rights, or rule of law component. Projects that focus on commercial law or economic development will also not be highly considered.
For full details, see the attached announcement: Download DRL_Notice.pdf. The deadline is Feb. 23, 2006.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
He Weifang (贺卫方), previously profiled here, is in the spotlight again as he challenges Zhou Yezhong (周叶中), a professor on the law faculty of Wuhan University, to respond to allegations of plagiarism. (For a quick summary of the issue, here's a recent Reuters article in English.) Zhou is what might be called an establishment legal scholar; in 2002, he was invited to lecture Hu Jintao and the Politburo on constitutional law. Among many other positions, he is a deputy secretary of the Law Faculty's Party committee and a member of the Ministry of Education's Higher Education Legal Studies Curriculum Guidance Committee (高等学校法学学科教育指导委员会). In 2005, he was named one of China's ten outstanding young and middle-aged legal scholars (全国十大杰出中青年法学家) by the China Legal Studies Association (中国法学会).
The story broke in late November, 2005, when Wang Tiancheng (王天成), a former Beijing University law department lecturer (1989-1992) and now a businessman, accused Zhou of copying large portions of his own work in "A Constitutionalist Interpretation of Republicanism" (共和主义的宪政解读), which Zhou published (with co-author Dai Jitao (戴激涛), his doctoral student) in September 2005 with the People's Press (人民出版社). The case is particularly sensitive because of Zhou's political standing, and apparently media discussion of the case has been prohibited by the Communist Party's Propaganda Department.
Zhou has apparently refused to say very much about the case so far except to deny in general terms that he did anything wrong, but is reported to have suggested that all references to Wang were removed by or at the instance of the publisher because Wang was out of favor with the authorities, having spent five years in prison in the 1990s for attempting to organize an opposition party.
In his critique of Zhou, posted on the Academic Criticism website (学术批评网), Prof. He expresses his dissatisfaction with this explanation, finding that other authors without political problems were copied without attribution as well, and that the removal of quotation marks along with the citations suggests an intention to conceal the copying. It is also reported that the People's Press has declined Wang's request to issue a written statement backing up Zhou's claim.
In a tongue-in-cheek defense of Prof. Zhou (at least this is how I read it), an anonymous author suggests that the blame probably lies with Dai, his co-author and student. That professors take credit for a student's work is, the author writes, an open secret in China, and the practice works to the benefit of both: the student, an unknown, can publish at a major publishing house, and the professor can add another publication to his CV without having to actually write anything. But, the author writes, in these cases the student has a duty not to embarrass the professor by exposing him to criticism through such sins as plagiarism. Thus, the author writes, Prof. He is too hard on Prof. Zhou by expecting him actually to read carefully and check for plagiarism everything that is published under his name.
Troubles never come singly; just a few days after Wang's attack, an anonymous author on the web charged that Zhou and another Wuhan University Law Faculty member, Jiang Guohua (江国华), had published, each under solely his own name, what was essentially the same article under different titles in different journals. Apparently neither Wuhan University nor the two professors have made any comment on this matter to date.
For a good report in Chinese with more detail on the points covered above, click here.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Yale Law School's China Law Center conference on "Diversity, Equality and Harmony: International Workshop on Sexuality, Policy and Law"
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I have been asked to post an announcement about the LLM degree in Chinese law offered by the University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Law. Here's the announcement: Download HKU-LLM.pdf. The program also has a website here.
Monday, January 23, 2006
I have received the following announcement from the University of Iowa College of Law:
A day-long program on China will be held on February 10, 2006, at the University of Iowa College of Law. Scholars from around the country will address three important topics: 1) China and the rule of law; 2) developments in China’s financial sector, and 3) relations between China and Taiwan. The program’s schedule, the speakers' bios, abstracts of their talks, and the registration form can be found at the University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development website: http://www.uiowa.edu/ifdebook/conferences/china/intro.shtml. On-line registration is required for those who plan to attend the free luncheon, where our keynote speaker, Professor Joseph Norton, will address developments in China's banking sector.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The ABA's Asia Law Initiative is looking for two law student interns (unpaid), an undergraduate intern (unpaid) and a program manager (paid) for China-related projects. The qualifications for the program manager are as follows:
ABA-Asia seeks candidates to fill a Project Manager position based in ABA-Asia's Washington, D.C. office. The Project Manager develops, obtains outside funding for, and implements projects and activities in various Asian countries, including China. Some travel to the region is required.
Candidates must have a Juris Doctor degree; at least five years of practical legal experience, including a minimum of one year working on donor-funded international legal reform programs; excellent writing and editing skills; proficiency in the Chinese language; and knowledge of Asian (particularly, Chinese) history, geography, and politics.
Details on all positions in the attached file: Download aba-ali.pdf
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and Renmin University of China School of Law in Beijing recently co-sponsored what may be the first mock criminal trial advocacy competition in China. Students from law schools throughout mainland China participated in the two-day event, which was held in Beijing in December. For the full story from IU's website, click here.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Faculty positions open at School of American and Comparative Law, China University of Politics and Law
The title says it all. I've been asked to announce that the School of American and Comparative Law at CUPSL is hiring three or four full-time faculty members. Applicants need not be Chinese citizens. Please see the attached announcement for details: Download cupsl.pdf
Monday, January 16, 2006
A few days ago I posted an alert about an inaccurate version of the Securities Law that was available on the web. This prompted a very helpful email from Simon Zhang that I thought was too good to be buried in a comment to the above posting (that nobody would see). With his permission (and with thanks), I post here a slightly edited version of his email.
When I post URLs for Chinese laws (in the strict sense, i.e., those promulgated by NPC and NPCSC), I use the NPC's official website: http://www.npc.gov.cn/zgrdw/wxzl/index.jsp. All laws and other documents issued by the NPC and the NPCSC are accessible from that webpage. The "法律文件" page contains a "folder tree" by category. If it's difficult to determine under which specific sub-category a piece of law is put, you can also use 按年度检索.
There is indeed one advantage of this NPC website: for many laws, at the bottom of the text page, you can find links to other legislative history materials which were published in the NPCSC Gazette.
In addition, there is also a page where you can see selectively published NPCSC members' comments on law drafting sessions. Such material is not included in the NPCSC Gazette.
For the NPC home page, click here.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Monday, January 9, 2006
Take a look at your copy of the new Securities Law: does it say in Art. 213 that in some circumstances acquirers can't vote shares in excess of 30% of the company's total outstanding shares? Then you've got the wrong version, even if it purports to be the final version passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee last October.
Both Chinalawinfo.com and the Xihu Online Legal Bookstore site, both of which I regularly use and have always found reliable, have - remarkably - posted an inaccurate, pre-final version of the Securities Law. The differences between the inaccurate version and the genuine final version (see below for the link) are as follows:
- Art. 15: Does not contain at the end the words "listed companies may also not make non-public share issues" (上市公司也不得非公开发行新股)
- Art. 204: Does not contain the qualifier "unlawfully" (违法) before the term "traded securities" (买卖证券).
- Art. 213: In the section of the first sentence following the semicolon, speaks of stock that is "held" (持有), not "acquired" (收购), and there is no 30% rule (i.e., voting rights may not be exercised with respect to any of the stock in question).
I wonder how long it will take people to notice? These errors are more than just misplaced commas; someone could be in for a nasty surprise at some point.
I'm including links to sources for the correct version below.
- Right version
- Wrong version
Saturday, January 7, 2006
Friday, January 6, 2006
The China Youth Daily (中国青年报) recently posted a summary of the 10 most influential legal cases of 2005. The cases were selected by the paper's editorial board in conjuction with Qinghua University's Center for Constitutional and Civil Rights. Here's a brief precis:
1. The Nie Shubin (聂树斌) and She Xianglin (佘祥林) cases. These are miscarriages of justice in death penalty cases that drew attention to problems in the criminal justice system in general and in the system of imposing death sentences in particular. Perhaps in response, the Supreme People's Court announced it would take back the power to review all death sentences, previously delegated in part to provincial-level courts.
2. The Zhao Yan (赵燕) case. Zhao Yan was a tourist from Tianjin who was beaten by US border officials at Niagara Falls. A criminal case was brought against one; he was acquitted. The case aroused a great deal of attention in China. The interesting thing about its inclusion in this list is that all the lessons the editors draw from it are clearly aimed at the Chinese system. For example: the case (and what was apparently a problematic record on the part of the defendant) was widely reported in the US media; the victim received prompt medical attention, with all her expenses paid by a victims' aid group; and the judicial system did not refuse to hear the case simply because the offender was a government official.
3. The hysterectomy case. In April in Jiangsu Province, two girls of about 13 with mental disabilities were sent by the state home where they resided to hospital to have a hysterectomy. The reason given by the officials of the home was apparently that this "would save a lot of trouble later on." Apparently the practice is common. The director and vice director of the home, as well as the two operating doctors, were put on trial from intentional injury (故意伤害罪). No verdict has been given yet.
4. The Du Baoliang (杜宝良) case. This is the case that brought to light the practice of the Beijing traffic police of imposing fines without notice. Thus, fines for repeat offenses (for example, illegal parking) could mount up to ridiculous levels without the offender ever knowing he was doing something wrong. You only find out when you go for your annual license renewal. For more information, see my previous post.
5. The Tianjin entry fee case. In this case, Qinghua University law PhD Li Gang (李刚) sued the city of Tianjin for imposing an entry fee on those entering the city by road. He lost - the court hearing the case ruled that it was not a specific administrative act subject to challenge. He also sued the city of Shanghai for imposing a similar entry fee. The commentary supports Li on the grounds that roads should inherently be supplied free of charge by government, and that imposing a fee (at least on roads that were not funded by a special-purpose loan) amounts to an illegitimate shifting of costs to the consumer.
6. The lawsuit of Gu Chujun (顾雏军) vs. Lang Xianping (郎咸平). Gu was the chairman of the board of Kelong, one of the many Chinese companies whose name is now associated with financial scandal. In August, 2004, he was accused by Lang Xianping (Larry Lang), an economist and commentator on financial affairs based in Hong Kong, of appropriating state property by taking advantage of his position at Kelong. He responded by suing in Hong Kong. The following year, it was announced that he and six others were under investigation for economic crimes.
7. The Yu Shanlan (喻山澜) case. This was an interesting piece of public interest litigation. The plaintiff sued the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for overcharging him for a service relating to a driver's license that only it could lawfully perform (i.e., it had a monopoly). The lawsuit claimed unjust enrichment. The plaintiff won and received damages of Y69.20, but the result was that the bank had to reduce its fees for this service to all comers.
8. The Huang Jing (黄静) case. Huang Jing was a girl whose naked corpse was found in her school dormitory room. A ball of toilet paper nearby had semen on it. The investigation into the cause of death was bungled many times and only moved forward by continuous pressure from the family. This case led to reforms in the system of forensic investigations.
9. The bribery cases of Han Guizhi (韩桂芝) and Tian Fengshan (田凤山). Han and Tian were two officials who were convicted of accepting bribes; the significance of these cases may lie in their seniority. Han was a former chairman of the Heilongjiang Provincial People's Consultative Conference; Tian had been the governor of Heilongjiang and the Minister of State Land and Natural Resources.
10. The Zhang Weisheng (张衡生) case. Zhang was a young man in Hunan who was struck by a motorcycle while walking beside the road near Xiantan City. The local people made calls to various emergency numbers, but nobody lifted a finger to help. Eventually the Xiangtan City police department disciplined 11 of its members, and the family received Y170,000 in compensation.
Monday, January 2, 2006
Those of you who have looked for coffee in Shanghai may have noticed that some coffee shops say "Starbucks" in English, whereas others with a nearly identical logo and colors use the company's popular Chinese name, 星巴克 (xingbake). The latter stores are run by a different company. Unmoved by the manager's claim in 2003 that the resemblance was just a coincidence, Starbucks sued in the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court at the end of 2003 (I think - reports vary) and was handed a victory on Dec. 31, 2005.
Web references (in chronological order):
- Shanghai Daily story, 2003
- Seattle Times story, Oct. 9, 2005
- Shanghai Daily story, Jan. 1, 2006
- Anhui News story (in Chinese), Jan. 1, 2006
- Financial Times story, Jan. 3, 2006 (subscription required)