Sunday, February 25, 2007
Today's New York Times carries a very interesting profile of two human rights lawyers, Li Jinsong and Li Jianqiang, and their differing views on China's legal and political system in general and litigation strategy in particular. Here are some bios:
Saturday, February 24, 2007
The organization Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders has released a report analyzing the Chen Guangcheng case (my latest relevant blog post is here). The report is available on line here [Part 1 | Part 2] and may be downloaded in PDF format from the Chinese Law Blog web site here.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The following announcement comes from Prof. Patrick Randolph:
2007 Edgar Snow J.D. Scholarship
UMKC School of Law
The University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Law (UMKC) is pleased
to announce this year's competition for the Edgar Snow Scholarship.
This scholarship and an associated fellowship package will provide an
allowance sufficient to cover most of the expenses of pursuing a three
year J.D. program at the School of Law. including tuition, living
expenses and books.
Interviews for the scholarship will be conducted in China from March 19
- 26. Interested candidates should apply for an appointment by
contacting program assistant Nancy Kunkel at email@example.com Location
of the interviews will be arranged with individual applicants, but it is
possible that applicants will have to travel to a major Chinese city to
have the interview.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
There has been a bit of discussion over at the Chinalaw list about rankings for Chinese law faculties; here is the result. I have edited the contributions a bit. ADDED FEB. 13: Let me stress that we don't know the methodology behind these rankings; in particular, so far as I know, the universities don't supply data to the rankers. For a critique of the rankings (in Chinese), see here.
From Wei Luo:
The most popular ranking of Chinese higher education institutes has been done by 武书连 《中国大学评价》 (here). He and his associate also rank Chinese law schools here. Unfortunately, the details of his ranking methodology is not described at his website.
John Graham has kindly translated the university and law school rankings at the above links. Thanks also to Xin Dai for pointing out that under the Department of Education's classification system, "law" here is an umbrella term encompassing the majors of law, Marxism, sociology, politics, and public security.
1. Tsinghua University
2. Beijing University
3. Zhejiang University
4. Shanghai Jiaotong University
5. Nanjing University
6. Fudan University (Shanghai)
7. Huazhong University of Science and Technology
8. Wuhan University
9. Jilin University (Changchun)
10. Xi'an Jiaotong University
1. A++ Beijing University
2. A++ People's University (Beijing)
3. A++ Wuhan University
4. A++ Tsinghua University
5. A+ China University of Political Science and Law (Zhengfa Daxue)
6. A+ Jilin University
7. A+ Fudan University
8. A+ Southwest University of Political Science and Law (Xinan Zhengfa Daxue)(Chongqing)
9. A Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (Zhongnan Caijing Zhengfa Daxue)
10. A Zhejiang University
11. A Xiamen University
12. A Zhongshan University
13. A East China University of Politics and Law
14. A Nanjing University
15. A Nankai University (Tianjin)
16. A Huazhong Normal University
17. A Suzhou University
18. A East China Normal University
19. A Shandong University
Sunday, February 11, 2007
What is surprising is the surprise that sophisticated people show over the fact that China's stock market behaves like an emerging market. China's stock markets were founded exactly 15 years ago, which means theat they are in their infancy. It would be useful for someone to benchmark the development of China's stock market against other emerging markets. In Hong Kong, big families like Li Kashing often control two-thirds of the voting shares, with consequences for minority shareholders very similar to what happens in China when listed companies remain 2/3 state controlled; that's gradually ending in China, but not in Hong Kong. In Taiwan it is common for company founders to take out huge bank loans, collateralized with shares of their companies, to boost their own stock prices; this has a marvelous effect on both their stock options and their ability to borrow more money from the banks (collateralized by even more inflated stock prices). Such practices are analogous to the common Chinese practice of managements taking out bank loans to buy their own stock and bid it up to lure unsuspecting investors until they can very profitably dump their own shares. In Indonesia and Thailand, far older markets have lax acounting standards even by comparison with China. One of my more endearing experiences with the Thai stock market was when my youngest analyst called me up at 2:00am one morning during a hectic roadshow to tell me that he'd caught the old CFO of Alphatech, Thailand's most prestigious high tech company, lying about the funds available for their next bond payment. When we tried to notify our customers, Swiss lawyers tied us up until the scandal hit the front page of the Financial Times; Alphatech had reported a very good profit when its actual result was a $128 million loss. (Swiss law, by the way, sternly enforces the rules that make such opacity possible for any company that has issued a Swiss franc convertible bond.) That sort of thing was more common than not in Thailand and contributed greatly to the extent of the collapse in 1997. The big Chinese companies mostly seem to be adhering to considerably higher standards, to an extent that makes a Thai-scale crisis unlikely, although their standards are woefully low by comparison to the U.S. and U.K.
Although I haven't done the benchmarking study, I spent enough years earning my living from watching the pratfalls of Asian markets to be quite confident that the rate of improvement of China's stock market greatly exceeds that of most of its emerging market competitors. The regulators are among the most determined reformers I've ever known. Precisely because of determination to improve things, the Chinese leadership imports a good many of them from Hong Kong; many of them, like Laura Cha, find it exasperating to try to move things forward rapidly despite the interest group pressures and the government's fears that reform will deprive it of the ability to fund the pension system by selling SOE shares. But on balance things move forward a heck of a lot faster than is typical elsewhere.
Having said that, unless you're well plugged in it's very easy to end up, as [deleted] says, as a donor rather than an owner.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Here's the latest newsletter of the GTZ Legal Advisory Service (a German organization working in China). Please note that at the end of the newsletter they have a notice about internships with them in Beijing.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
I have received the following announcement:
The China Law Center of Yale Law School is seeking a graduating student or recent university graduate for a Research Associate position based in Beijing. The Research Associate will support Center projects in China by providing administrative and logistical support; conducting research and writing on issues related to legal reform; and communicating with scholars, officials, and lawyers.
Ideal candidates will have fluent English; proficiency in written and spoken Mandarin Chinese; strong research, writing, analytical, and communication skills; an interest in law and legal reform; and a commitment to public interest service. The Research Associate will receive a competitive one-year fellowship stipend for the 2007-2008 year.
Interested students and recent graduates should submit a CV and cover letter to the Center’s staff at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The VOA reports that Dr. Gao Yaojie has been placed under "house arrest" by authorities in Henan, and thus prevented from traveling to the US to receive an award for supporting the rights of women in China. [VOA report | NYT profile of Gao Yaojie]. I use quotation marks around the word "house arrest" because I don't actually know of any legal basis for the actions taken here (and often in other cases as well). Typically, the police simply surround the residence of the person in question and refuse to let anyone in; the person under house arrest may be allowed out to go shopping or something like that, but accompanied by a police officer. Under Chinese law as I understand it, if people are suspected of criminal activity in China, they can be questioned inside or outside of a custodial setting. Once charged, they can continue in custody or can be allowed to await trial outside of custody. These procedures are all in the Criminal Procedure Law and associated documents. There is a procedure called "supervised residence," but this again is supposed to be pursuant to criminal charges and there's no indication that Gao has been charged with anything.
Thus, my tentative conclusion is that the measures adopted here and in similar cases (for example, the long house arrest of Zhao Ziyang) represent actions by authorities who simply do not care what the law may or may not demand or allow. The central government could if it wished pass regulations to allow for this type of thing (since this involves coercive measures, it should be at the NPC or NPC Standing Committee level), but to the best of my knowledge it has not. My guess is that spelling out the conditions under which this kind of house arrest would be allowed would be unsatisfactory: they would either be too narrow to be useful or so broad as to attract substantial criticism, not just outside China but inside it as well.
I think the best term for this kind of action might be "extralegal"; "unlawful", if I'm right about the lack of justifying legislation, is also accurate as far as it goes, but it fails to capture the notion that the legal system is simply irrelevant in the view of the authorities. And if that view can be made to stick, then we have to take it seriously in understanding how the system works.
My premise may of course be wrong; if readers do know of any legal basis for this kind of action, please explain in the comments.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
The latest newsletter of the Duihua Foundation has a good report on recent reforms in the death penalty regime, as well as some interesting statistics from Yunnan. Among other things, the report estimates (unfortunately without citing a source) that there were only one or two thousand executions in the early 1980s; informed estimates (cited in the report) for 2005 and 2006 put the numbers at about 8000 and 7000 respectively.
Monday, February 5, 2007
That's the title of this interesting article by Liang Jing (梁京), the nom de plume of a Chinese economist who is a frequent commentator on PRC affairs in various media. Translation courtesy of David Kelly, with modest editorial input from me.
Friday, February 2, 2007
The Party's top official in charge of legal matters and Politburo Standing Committee member Luo Gan (罗干) has issued a call for legal departments to be on guard against enemy forces seeking to use the legal system to Westernize and divide the country. The speech was published in the Party journal Qiu Shi (Seeking Truth); it's called "The Political Responsibility of Political-Legal Organs in Constructing a Harmonious Society" (政法机关在构建和谐社会中的政治责任). Here's the speech as published; here's the New York Times article by Joe Kahn.