Friday, November 10, 2006
The following announcement may be of interest to Chinese students:
Interviews for International LL.M. Scholarship at UMKC School of Law
The University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law has a long established relationship with China and Chinese Law Schools, and has been inviting Chinese students to study law in Kansas City for more than a decade. We are bringing Chinese students here to broaden the perspective of our American students and faculty, and to bring about better preparation for the future worldwide marketplace, in which American and Chinese lawyers must cooperate. We are not interested in making a lot of money from Chinese student tuition.
Therefore, UMKC Law School offers a Generous Scholarship Program for LLM students. We will offer as many as fifteen partial scholarships, to reduce the already low cost of our general law LLM program.
One hundred percent of the LLM graduates from UMKC who have taken the New York Bar have passed.
The statement set forth at http://www1.law.umkc.edu/academic/china/llm/overview.htm
will give you complete information about the LL.M. program at UMKC School of Law. At that website, you can watch an interview (in Chinese) with two of our current LLM candidates concerning their experiences studying in America and their experience at UMKC.
An interview is required to qualify for admission and scholarship. Interviews will occur [in China - ed.] in late November and December of 2006, and, if positions remain open, additional interviews may occur in March of 2007.
Professor Patrick Randolph, director of the Chinese programs at UMKC School of Law, and director of the Peking University Center for Real Estate Law, will conduct interviews for the programs. Please contact Nancy Kunkel, Program Coordinator, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment. Mrs. Kunkel’s telephone number is (816) 235-1647 and her fax number is (816) 235-5276.
This case is not exactly news - it was reported back in August - but I wanted to hold off posting about it until I got a copy of the judgment (see below).
Chen Tangfa (陈堂发), a journalism professor, sued a blog hosting service for not taking down insulting comments about him posted by a student. The comments, while certainly insulting (猥琐人wretched/tedious person, 烂人烂教材 rotten person and rotten teaching materials, 流氓 hooligan), fall I think comfortably within what we might call expressions of opinion rather than assertions of fact. [Nov. 11 FOLLOW-UP: I had not seen 猥琐人 before and relied too much on my prudish dictionary. As Willi Hao's comment suggests, it does indeed have a sense of "dirty" or "perverted".]
The court judgment found the comments actionable and the blog hosting service liable. My quick review of the judgment suggests the following interesting aspects of the issues dealt with by the court:
- Did the post infringe on the plaintiff's rights? The defendant argued (unsuccessfully, of course) that the poster had no subjective intention to harm the plaintiff.
- Was the hosting service liable? The defendant argued (lamely, in my opinion) that the defendant failed to provide proof of his identify. Whether the hosting service had a duty to remove the statements if the plaintiff had gone through the proper procedures seems not to have been an issue.
- An crucial non-issue was whether the statements were or were not actionable as defamatory. In other words, the plaintiffs did not argue that you may insult people with impunity in China provided you do not cross some line. Insults are harmful, and so you must bear liability.
My shallow acquaintance with defamation law suggests that the plaintiff's claim would not succeed in jurisdictions like the United States. This is not because nobody here thinks insults aren't harmful and sometimes quite unjustified. It's because there is a countervailing value - free speech - that must be considered as well. Although the Chinese legal system might well, if it thought about it, arrive at a different way of striking the balance between these two values, here (and in many defamation cases) the countervailing value doesn't seem to enter into the calculation at all. There is just no pushback. (For a far more detailed and nuanced view of Chinese defamation law than I can manage here, see Prof. Ben Liebman's excellent article on the subject, "Innovation Through Intimidation: An Empirical Account of Defamation Litigation in China.") The irony of this suit being launched by a professor of journalism needs no elaboration.
Further sources and links:
Monday, November 6, 2006
In most countries an op-ed piece wouldn't mean much, but it's at least an interesting straw in the wind when an op-ed piece appears in the China Daily suggesting that it would perhaps not be a terrible thing, all things considered, to legalize prostitution, or at least to tolerate it in some form. The author was commenting on the controversy that ensued when AIDS prevention authorities in Harbin invited 50 xiaojie (the usual euphemism) to a lecture on prevention of AIDS and venereal disease. Staff members distributed gifts, pamphlets, and condoms. Apparently the police were complaining about the dilemma they were placed in: they could not arrest the xiaojie because that would have tarnished the credibility of the sponsoring organization. (It does not seem to have occurred to them that the act of attending a lecture aimed at prostitutes is not an offense.) As the author of the commentary can't resist pointing out, it's hard to take the police complaints seriously: if they really wanted to arrest these xiaojie, surely they could have done so at any time before the lecture. How is it that the health department managed to identify them while the police could not?
Incidentally, a colleague has pointed out that this piece seems to be a condensed version of a longer article in the Oct. 19, 2006 issue of Southern Weekend (南方周末) authored by a different person. No further comment.
Sunday, November 5, 2006
I have received an announcement from the CECC (slightly edited) as follows:
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China will hold another in its series of staff-led Issues Roundtables, entitled "China's National and Local Regulations on Religion: Recent Developments in Legislation and Implementation," on Monday, November 20, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. All CECC hearings and Issues Roundtables are open to the public and the press.
On March 1, 2005, the State Council's Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) entered into force, representing the first comprehensive national regulation devoted to religious issues. This Roundtable examines the interplay between the national RRA and local regulations and discusses the practical impact of such regulations on freedom of religion in China.
The panelists are:
- Eric R. Carlson, Attorney, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C. and a Fellow of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University.
- Bob (Xiqiu) Fu, President, China Aid Association, Midland, Texas.
- James W. Tong, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, University of California-Los Angeles, and Editor of the journal Chinese Law and Government, Los Angeles, California.