Friday, March 31, 2006
The US and the EU yesterday brought a formal complaint against China before the WTO, thus starting a 60-day consultation period at the end of which they can ask for formal dispute resolution proceedings before a WTO panel.
According to a report in the Financial Times,
The case aims at regulations intended to encourage Chinese carmakers to use domestic rather than imported car parts. The US and EU claim China is imposing unfair “local content’’ rules through a complex tariff system that raises the import tariffs from 10 per cent to 25 per cent if foreign parts make up more than a certain proportion of a car.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights is seeking a program officer for China-related matters at its office in Geneva. The duration is stated as "initially one year," as they need a replacement for staff on special leave.
The application deadline is April 18, 2006. Here's the announcement: Download UNHCHR.pdf
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Here's an interesting-looking position at the USTR: Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement. For the full announcement, click here. Note that the closing date is April 7th. The announcement was issued only on March 24th; it beats me how our government expects to get the best people available when it provides such a narrow window for learning about, and applying for, these jobs.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Here's an update on the Zhou Yezhong plagiarism case, about which I previously blogged. The party alleging his work was plagiarized, Wang Tiancheng (王天成), brought suit (I don't know exactly what the legal claim is), and on March 15th his case was formally accepted for hearing (受理) by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Level People's Court. The first hearing is scheduled for May 10th.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Friday, March 24, 2006
Graeme Johnston, an attorney based in Shanghai, has kindly contributed the following as a comment to my earlier post on the Mainland-Macau agreement for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments, but as it seemed too good to stay buried in the Comments page, I am reproducing it here as a blog posting in its own right. This comment discusses Hong Kong's approach to the enforcement of foreign judgments and its forthcoming agreement with the mainland.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
On April 1, 2006, the "Arrangement Between the Mainland and the Macao Special Administrative Region on the Mutual Recognition and Enforcement of Civil and Commercial Judgments" (内地与澳门特别行政区关于相互认可和执行民商事判决的安排) will go into effect. (Bilingual Portuguese-Chinese version here.) The content of the agreement is pretty much spelled out in the title. There are very few grounds on which the courts of one jurisdiction may decline to enforce the covered judgments of the other; certainly no review of the substance of the judgment is permitted, but exceptions on the grounds of public policy are allowed. On the mainland side, the party actually signing the agreement is the Supreme People's Court; it's not clear who signed it on behalf of Macao.
China has very few such agreements with other jurisdictions, and none with its major trading partners. What's interesting about this agreement is what it does not say, and how that contrasts with a forthcoming similar arrangement between the mainland and Hong Kong. According to recent remarks by a senior Hong Kong government official (I haven't yet confirmed that the remarks were on the record), Hong Kong and the mainland are about to enter into an arrangement for the mutual recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments, but the content will be quite different. Judgments of the other jurisdiction will be enforced only where the parties by contract specifically chose the courts of that other jurisdiction as the exclusive forum for the resolution of disputes.
In short, the agreement will treat such choices essentially as arbitration agreements - and indeed, that's pretty much what they are. The Hong Kong legal community is willing to help enforce the judgments of a forum to which the parties have voluntarily submitted their dispute, but won't go any further. Macao, by contrast, has gone all the way to a full-faith-and-credit approach.
Monday, March 20, 2006
The career of Qiu He (仇和), recently promoted to the rank of vice governor of Jiangsu Province, has occasioned quite a bit of controversy. The essence of the issue is that Qiu has apparently run roughshod over what might be called the legal rights of those he has governed in previous positions, but has ultimately delivered impressive economic results and introduced political reforms. Those who support him say, in the words of one blogger, "Can't one use rule by men to promote rule of law? Can't one use non-democratic means to promote democracy?" In the words of another supporter, given that there are no effective political structures, the only way to create healthy institutions is through rule by men.
Others such as Cai Dingjian of the Chinese University of Politics and Law reject these arguments: "The tragedy of strongman politics is that good officials always want to do everything themselves, to change the fate of the people, and to become the savior of the people, but they don't let people grasp their own fates." Cai argues that the test of a good official is the degree to which they contribute to the creation of institutions. Otherwise, even a good official, when he leaves his post, leaves nothing behind.
For a full discussion of the Qiu He phenomenon, to which is owed the above summary and quotations, see Joseph Fewsmith, "Promotion of Qiu He Raises Questions About Direction of Reform," China Leadership Monitor, No. 17, Winter 2006.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Supreme People's Court Work Report, delivered on March 11, 2006 to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, is now available here.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate Work Report is available here.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Last January I posted about plagiarism scandals in the legal academy and the case of Zhou Yezhong. Reader Tom Kellogg has kindly permitted me to reprint here (slightly edited) his posting to another forum:
Perhaps partly as a result of the Zhou Yezhong controversy back in December, the debate over the plagiarism epidemic is getting more and more attention these days – the China Daily just ran an article in which government sources promise to impose a punishment system for professors caught cheating. A very good article that describes the pressures on academics to produce articles at a feverish pace – and thus engage in extensive plagiarism to keep up – can be found here.
The article, originally published in the 21st Century Economic Report by Prof. Gong Renren at Beijing Univ. Law School, notes that, because salaries, promotions, job titles, and other benefits are all tied to the number (not the quality, but the number) of articles placed in “key publications” each year, professors have a heavy incentive to both (a) engage in short-term, quick-payoff research whenever possible, and (b) plagiarize extensively in order to keep their output at an acceptably high level. He mentions that it is not unusual for individual academics to claim dozens of academic articles in a single year, a feat which is not generally possible without heavy reliance on plagiarism and the extensive appropriation of grad students’ work, which is also, according to Gong, rampant. Gong also makes the point that, because many of the key publications are more heavily politically censored, academics also have to engage in extensive self-censorship in order to make sure that their articles are accepted for publication.
Gong frames the article in terms of the need for officials in charge of universities to have tangible, measurable successes to show to their superiors. So when the government started dumping money into the university system in the late 1990s in its bid to create a “world-class university system,” university officials, besides engaging in massive construction projects, also heavily incentivized academic production, the result being, in Gong’s view, a Great Leap Forward-esque blind ramping up of scholarly output, with little attention to either quality of production or the downsides of the policy choices that have been made.
Another piece worth looking at which talks more about the plagiarism problem among students can be found here.
In this piece, Prof. Yang Yusheng, an expert on American history at China University of Politics and Law, estimated that roughly 20-30% of his students engaged in some level of plagiarism on a certain assignment, despite repeated warnings that plagiarism is unacceptable and will be punished. He also says that, as his reputation for enforcing academic standards grew, his enrollments plummeted, a problem perhaps not completely unknown in the US. According to another academic Yang cites in his article, roughly 60% of law students plagiarize, and the numbers go as high as 80-90% in classes on Marxism.
On the positive side, Yang, Gong, and others are part of a growing movement within universities to set meaningful academic standards for both students and professors. It is possible that, with the China Daily article and a spate of others put out by Xinhua, the government is signaling that it is open to new ideas on how to tackle the problem.
It is perhaps worth nothing that a Google search of "china daily plagiarism" turns up many stories of the China Daily being itself accused of plagiarism. See, for example, here (ripping off the New York Times), here, or here. And readers may remember that a few years ago the Beijing Evening News picked up (without attribution) a story from none other than The Onion reporting that Congress was threatening to leave Washington unless the city built it a fancy new Capitol (Los Angeles Times report reprinted here).
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Knut Pissler reports that the translation of the revised Securities Law offered by China Law & Practice in its first issue of 2006 (pp. 31 to 84) regrettably uses the wrong version. Knut has kindly prepared a PDF document available here that outlines the differences between the correct version and the widely circulating incorrect version. Is anyone at CLP listening?
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Simon Cowell probably never imagined that his cutting commentary on American Idol would eventually prompt a reaction from no less than the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT). But now frail-ego'd contestants on Chinese amateur talent shows need no longer fear ridicule: SARFT has issued rules (关于进一步加强广播电视播出机构参与、主办或播出全国性或跨省（区、市）赛事等活动管理的通知) regulating such contests that, among other things, prohibit judging committees from making comments that hurt contestants' feelings. The relevant language is as follows:
("Comments of the judging committee shall seek truth from facts, be positive and healthy, be equal and well-intentioned, not engage in unrealistic adulation, not engage in criticism that makes the contestant feel embarrassed, and not substitute irrational praise and criticism for intellectual guidance.")
Fox Network, are you listening?
Monday, March 13, 2006
I have been asked by Professor Caron, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Law Professor Blogs Network (the group of which this blog is a member), to post the following message:
Please take a moment to fill out our short reader survey here. We would like to have a better idea about who is reading this blog so we can better serve you. Thanks in advance for your help. (The survey will remain at the top of the middle column throughout this week.)
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Thursday, March 9, 2006
The Chinese law world is currently in the midst of a great debate over a brief video making its way around the Web called "一个馒头引发的血案" (A Case of Murder Caused by a Mantou - a mantou being a steamed bun popular in northern China). You can see the video here.
The video was put together by Hu Ge (胡戈), a disgruntled moviegoer, after seeing Chen Kaige's big-budget "无极" ("Promise") and finding it boring. He bought the DVD on his way home and put the video together in 10 days. The video takes scenes from the movie, adds on music from other sources and a narrative, and comes up with a ridiculous story about how a mantou led to a murder.
Chen Kaige was not amused and has apparently sued. The case has led to quite a bit of commentary in the legal world (see, for example, Beijing University's legal Web site www.chinalawinfo.com) on whether copyright law does or should protect Chen in this kind of case. There's a pretty good summary of the background story as well as various opinions in the most recent issue (March 9, 2006) of the Beijing Review here: Chinese | English
The U.S. Department of State just released its 2005 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for China. As usual, the Chinese government responded by issuing its own report on the human rights record of the United States. I am glad to have the Chinese government join me in condemning many things that I have over the years contributed money, signed petitions, and cast my vote in order to defeat. But its report is more a schoolyard nyah-nyah than a real response to criticism of its own record. A real response would be (a) to admit with regret that the allegations are true, (b) to proclaim with pride that the allegations are true (Texas has never tried to conceal its execution rate), or (c) to deny the allegations. This attempt to change the subject does none of these.
Tuesday, March 7, 2006