December 1, 2007
Criminal procedure in the Qing: an eyewitness report
When Enlightenment Europeans such as Voltaire first encountered Chinese civilization, they were impressed by its rationality. Later visitors during and after the suppression of the Taiping Rebellion were horrified by what they witnessed. Here's an interesting eyewitness account of late 19th-century Qing criminal procedure I recently ran across in a book published in 1877. It is on the whole quite sympathetic - although one wonders whether the author would have recommended the same system for his own country.
November 30, 2007
EPA - China Environmental Law Initiative Web site
Here's the first paragraph of the EPA's press release:
In an effort to strengthen the legal framework for environmental protection in China, EPA today launched the EPA - China Environmental Law Initiative Web site. The Web site, announced by EPA General Counsel Roger R. Martella, will provide a forum for sharing information and fostering an ongoing dialogue with China on environmental law.
Full text here.
A conversation between the ruler and the ruled
Here's an interesting account by Ma Shaofang, one of the student organizers of the 1989 Tiananmen hunger strike and now a businessman in Shenzhen, of a recent conversation over a mandatory "tea" with some agents of the Ministry of State Security. Thanks to China Digital Times for the translation.
November 26, 2007
Will death penalty review overwhelm the Supreme People's Court?
Here's their introduction:
The following opinion piece, which appeared on November 21, 2007 in The Beijing News (新京报, Chinese original in PDF) and was then translated by Dui Hua, raises concerns about the future of China’s Supreme People’s Court. Faced with an "extremely large number" of death sentences to review, the SPC has been forced to take on hundreds of new criminal court judges, many of whom have lower qualifications than judges in the past. The author suggests this influx of less-qualified judges who focus on reviewing individual capital cases presents an obstacle to the SPC’s progress toward a more ideal goal, one in which high-court decisions contribute to the nation’s social and economic development. At stake, he warns, is the court's ultimate ability to ensure judicial authority.
It’s unclear how much consideration the author (who is very likely writing under a pseudonym) has given to the most obvious solution: a substantial reduction in the application of the death penalty in China. If, as he argues, the burdens of death-penalty review are hindering the efficiency of China’s legal institutions, this could be yet another argument in favor of further reducing the use of capital punishment.