Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I posted earlier on the four-year prison sentence handed down to Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) - a peasants' rights activist who blew the whistle on official abuses under China's one-child policy - for allegedly "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" while under police guard. In a report datelined Oct. 31, 2006, Radio Free Asia says that the Linyi Intermediate-Level People's Court in Shandong province has overturned the guilty verdict and ordered a retrial in the Yinan Basic-Level Court.
Chen's lawyer is quoted as saying, "From the point of view of the defense, this is the best possible result." I'm not sure why that's so. Wouldn't an outright acquittal have been better? Comments welcome.
In a recent speech, Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang (肖扬) reported that despite a year of concentrated effort, the problem of unexecuted judgments remained basically unresolved, with over 800,000 unexecuted judgments still out there. This seems like a big number, but it's always hard to know quite what to make of these statistics. First, they include, for example, judgments not executed because the defendant is broke - disappointing for the plaintiff, to be sure, but not an indication of anything wrong with the court system (unless the defendant has illicitly transferred funds to a connected party that the court is unable or unwilling to find or enforce against). Second, China is a big country with a lot of people; even minor phenomena can look huge when you have a multiplier like that. Finally, we don't have a good way of knowing what a good rate of execution would be, and therefore what the right number is. We don't even have good information on execution rates in other countries (I tried to find this out several years ago in connection with an article I was writing on enforcement of judgments in China - short version available here).
The news report on Xiao Yang's speech is available, with relevant links, here.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I have received the following announcement (slightly edited):
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) is currently soliciting resumes for spring internships (paid) in Washington, D.C., to work on Chinese human rights and rule of law issues. Interns must be U.S. citizens.
Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to the CECC to Judy Wright, Director of Administration via e-mail to Judy.Wright@mail.house.gov or via fax to (202) 226-3804, attention: Judy Wright.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Beijing University's Chinalawinfo site recently posted an interesting article on the various ways polluting enterprises obtain protection from enforcement of environmental law. The article focused on the industrial parks established by local governments. It seems that in order to attract investors, local government typically make promises such as that environmental protection agencies shall be allowed to inspect only once a year and may not enter the park at all without permission of the park administration, or that enterprises with investment above a certain floor shall be exempted from all administrative fees. One industrial park promised a "two no-contact" policy: enterprises would have no contact with local people who had lost their land to the enterprise and would have no contact with various functional agencies in acquiring necessary permits to operate; all would be handled by the park administration. In many cases the head of the park administration is a county leader; as such, he/she outranks the head of the local environmental protection agency (who has a ke ranking) and may therefore ignore it.
This article points up a feature of the Chinese political-legal system that, interestingly, has persisted virtually unchanged for decades despite the seismic changes occurring elsewhere in the system: the distribution of state authority according to a principle of rank. In other words, in asking whether A has the power to order B to do something, one could ask, "What is A's lawful sphere of jurisdiction?" or one could ask, "What is the rank of A (or A's agency) relative to B?" It's not that the first question is meaningless or never asked; it's just that the second question is an extremely important one, and we can't understand how China works - at least most of the time - without asking it.
The venerable Northwest Institute of Politics and Law (Xibei Zhengfa Xueyuan 西北政法学院) has just received permission from the Ministry of Education to change its name to the Northwest University of Politics and Law (Xibei Zhengfa Daxue 西北政法大学). The MOE notice, addressed to the Shaanxi Provincial People's Government, adds that the provincial government is to be responsible for all "expenses needed for development" of the university.
Friday, October 27, 2006
A few days ago, I posted here about the arrest of Qin Zhongfei for dissemination through e-mail and text message of a satirical poem. According to the Southern Metropolitan News (南方都市报), the charges have now been dismissed. Here's an edited summary of the article's contents:
On Oct. 24, the Pengshui country procuratorate dismissed the charges against Qin Zhongfei and suggested that he seek compensation. According to Qin's lawyers, the libel charges were officially dismissed based on Article 130 of the Criminal Code of China.
Compensation for wrongful detention is set at the daily average wage for Chinese workers. The 2005 daily average is 73.3 yuan. Qin, who was detained for 29 days (detained on 9/1, formally arrested on 9/11, and paroled on 9/28), received a total compensation of 2,125.70 yuan. The police apologized for their erroneous action, but compensation was paid (according to the article) by the procuratorate on Oct. 25.
The Southern Metropolitan News report (in Chinese) is here.
Thanks to Yawei Liu of the Carter Center for this information.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The following announcement comes (slightly edited) from Intchinalaw (click on the link to join), the listserv of the China Committee of the ABA's Section on International Law:
The China Review, an interdisciplinary journal on Greater China, has released its Fall 2006 edition, a special issue on WTO and China's financial development. The Asian Institute of International Financial Law at Hong Kong University has drafted the articles for this special issue:
* Implementing China's WTO Commitments in Chinese Financial Services Law, by Sanzhu Zhu;
* Insurance in China: Assessment of the Implementation of China's WTO Commitments, by Andreas Kellerhals;
* Managing Liberalization Risk in China's Securities Market: Challenges from WTO Implementation, by Michael Burke (China Committee Co-Chair); and
* CEPA and China's Banking Law: Conflicts and Adjustments, Wei Wang
The China Review is available online via ProQuest Reference Asia and at www.chineseupress.com.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The latest issue of the Newsletter of the Legal Advisory Service [to China] of the German Development Cooperation (GTZ) can be downloaded here. The GTZ is still looking for interns; details in the newsletter.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I have been asked to post the following. Please note that I don't know what company is involved and can't answer any questions about this.
A large U.S. company with a branch office in Shanghai is looking to hire an in-house counsel. Preferably, the candidate will have passed a bar exam in the U.S. (as well as being a graduate of a Chinese law school). If anyone is interested, they should send a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I previously blogged here about the problems encountered by the draft Property Law. The China Daily recently reported that the Property Law is back on the legislative agenda, with a hope of getting voted on by the full National People's Congress this March. Text of report here.
Last August I posted here on the sentencing of Chen Guangcheng after a trial for which the usual term "farcical" is barely adequate. His wife, Yuan Weijin, recently published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post entitled "China vs. My Husband." Click here to read.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
On Oct. 21st, this blog reached a milestone: 50,000 visits since the blog was launched in late May, 2005. This is of course nothing compared with the millions of visits to some other blogs, but for a niche blog, maybe not too bad.
A Xinhua item dated Oct. 20 reports as follows:
A minor government officer in Southwest China has been arrested for mocking officials in mobile and internet messages, reported Friday's The Beijing News.
Qin Zhongfei, an official with the Pengshui county education commission in Chongqing, sent a satirical poem to several friends by phone and internet in August.
The poem poked fun at three local leading officials for embroiling the county in "fierce conflicts between officials and the people".
Ma Ping, former head of the county Party committee and one of the three officials satirized in the poem, was detained at the end of August on charges of corruption.
Local police visited Qin later that month, ransacked his office and later took away his computer. He was detained on charges of "slander".
During interrogation, Qin insisted that the poem did not target anybody specifically and was not written out of any political motive.
Meng Dehua, deputy Party head of Pengshui county, was quoted as saying that "Qin's problem is serious. It even involves illegal association." But he did not give details to back up the assertion.
Qin has obtained bail and is awaiting trial.
The Southern Weekend report (in Chinese) is here.
This case has the potential to develop into something of a cause celebre; apparently there has been no central government decision to suppress reporting. Let's see what happens.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I recently got hold of the comments submitted by the American Chamber of Commerce People's Republic of China (AmCham-China) on the draft Labor Contract Law. The comments don't specify which version of the draft they are commenting on, but it seems to be the version dated March 20, 2006. Here are the relevant documents:
- Labor Contract Law (March 20, 2006 draft) (in Chinese)
- AmCham-China comments (April 19, 2006) (in English and Chinese)
I have received the following announcement:
Call for Submissions
The Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs
commenced publication in 1981 under the auspices of the Chinese
(Taiwan) Society of International Law. The Yearbook publishes on
multi-disciplinary topics with a focus on international and
comparative law issues regarding Taiwan, Mainland China and
cross-strait relations. In addition, the Yearbook is considered to be
one of the foremost publications in the world concentrating on issues
of greater China.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng, detained in mid-August and formally arrested (daibu 逮捕) on Sept. 21 (daibu in Chinese criminal procedure is a technical term that does not correspond to the practical question of whether you have been forcibly detained by the police), has now finally been told the charge against him: inciting subversion. For the full New York Times story, click here (free registration required).
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I have been asked to post the following announcement:
The Institute for Sustainable Communities, a non-profit organization, based in Vermont seeks a consultant to assist in developing an environmental management program for small and medium enterprises in China. The consultant must be fluent in Chinese and English, have a background in environmental management, and experience living or working in China. The consultant may be based in China or the U.S.
For further details and the complete job announcement, click here.