Sunday, July 22, 2007
Here's an item from the ABA's China Law Committee listserv:
Kara Phillips, a long-time Committee member and contributor to the China Law Reporter, recently coordinated the contribution of over 300 English language law books to Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) Law School. The article at http://www.llrx.com/features/shanghaiexpress.htm describes the process Kara used to coordinate the contribution, and is an excellent primer for those considering similar contributions. Please take a look.
My friend Lester Ross sent me the following tidbit (appended at the end of this post) about the Chinese dairy companies getting together to agree not to engage in certain kinds of competitive activities. According to the report, the five big dairy companies have agreed to exercise "self-discipline" in the Beijing retail market. Fierce competition is driving down profits, and the price of milk is apparently the same as it was in 2005. Moreover, once the dairy companies succeed in driving up retail sale prices, they plan to turn their attention to procurement end of things, and to "standardize" their purchasing activities.
Although China does not yet have an antimonopoly law, this would seem to be a pretty clear violation of the Price Law, which states in Art. 14: 经营者不得有下列不正当价格行为： （一）相互串通，操纵市场价格，损害其他经营者或者消费者的合法权益 ("Operators may not engage in the following acts of improper pricing: (1) colluding with each other to manipulate market prices, harming the lawful rights and interests of other operators or consumers"). Yet the above report was not the result of a muckraking expose; it was the result of an official, public announcement made by the Dairy Industry Association.
This shows in an interesting way, I think, the absence of what might be called a certain culture of the market. I doubt if the Dairy Industry Association had any intention of breaking the law, or even of doing anything legal but improper. It just seemed to them that when profits are going down because of disorderly markets, collective action to maintain profit levels is entirely appropriate. And journalists and the public have not yet learned to be cynical about assertions of the virtues of "orderly" markets.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
In response to the scandal of the Shanxi brick-kiln slaves, lawyer and activist Wu Ge (吴革) has submitted a proposed amendment to the Criminal Law defining and criminalizing slavery. For various reasons as explained in the proposal and in an interview, he believes that existing laws (for example, laws against unlawful detention, assault, etc.) do not in fact adequately cover this phenomenon.
The text of the proposed addition to the Criminal Law is as follows: "以暴力或者暴力威胁，采取诱骗，精神控制，经济控制等方式，意在使他人被役使或役使他人的行为。一般情节判处5年以下有期徒刑，并处罚金；情节严重的，判处5年以上有期徒刑，并处罚金；情节特别严重的，判处无期徒刑，并处没收财产。同时构成其他犯罪的，数罪并罚。" I think there is a slight error in the text as reported; the period should probably be a comma. I would translate roughly as follows: "The act of using means such as trickery, mental control, economic control, etc. with violence or the threat of violence, to compel another to labor or with the intention of causing another to be compelled to labor, shall in ordinary circumstances be punished by up to 5 years of penal servitude and a fine; where the circumstances are serious, a sentence of 5 or more years and a fine shall be imposed; where the circumstances are especially serious, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be imposed and property shall be confiscated. Where the act constitutes another crime, punishment for multiple crimes shall be imposed."
This language is still a bit vague. The key term, yishi (役使), is not defined; since its general meaning is "to compel to labor," using it just shifts the definitional problem from "slavery" to "compelled labor." The use of violence (or the threat thereof) seems to be a parallel requirement with the use of methods such as "trickery, mental control, economic control, etc.," but it's not completely clear. Why, for example, is it not sufficient simply to use violence to compel another to labor? Why do we need the additional language about trickery, mental control, economic control, etc.?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Here's the latest issue (in Word format) of the newsletter of the (German) GTZ Legal Advisory Service. More information is on their web site. Incidentally, they are always looking for interns; see the last page of the newsletter. English is required; Chinese is desirable; German is not required.
Monday, July 9, 2007
I have received the following announcement:
The U.S. - China Legal Cooperation Fund invites proposals seeking grants for projects promoting rule-of-law in China, conducted jointly by American and Chinese participants.
This Fund is a program of the China Business Forum, the education and research arm of the U.S.-China Business Council. The Fund's objective is to support U.S.-China cooperation in strengthening China's legal processes and institutions.
Full information is available at www.uschinalegalcoop.org. The Fall 2007 period for submission of proposals closes September 30, 2007.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Last month, I wrote about the Shanxi brick kiln slave scandal. This story has had quite an impact in China, and has brought forward other even more shocking revelations. The latest is from Li Datong (李大同), a Chinese journalist who was formerly the editor of Freezing Point (冰点), a weekly supplement of China Youth News (中国青年报) that ran into trouble for its too-daring content.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
I have received the following note (slightly edited). The CECC, which in my opinion produces quite good reports, is interested in both undergraduate and graduate students with strong research skills.
July 6, 2007
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) is currently soliciting resumes for fall internships (paid) in Washington, D.C., working on Chinese human rights and rule of law issues. Interns must be U.S. citizens.
Applications for fall 2007 internships must be received by August 1. Further details are available both in this announcement and on the Commission's Web site at www.cecc.gov.
Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to the CECC via e-mail to Judy.Wright@mail.house.gov; or via fax at (202) 226-3804, attention; Judy Wright, Director of Administration.
Director of Administration
Thursday, July 5, 2007
An occasional topic of discussion on the Chinalaw list is whether US (or other foreign) judgments can be enforced in China. I finally decided to investigate this relatively systematically a while ago and came up with this short research note. The basic finding is that there is no record of the kind of judgments people are most interested in - contested judgments in cases involving money - being enforced.
I recently put the question again to members of the Chinalaw list to see if there was any new information about US judgments being enforced in China that met the above conditions; apparently the answer is no. But I did get a note from Graeme Johnston of Herbert Smith about a very interesting German case, which I reproduce below with his kind permission:
Tuesday, July 3, 2007