Wednesday, April 30, 2008
International Trade Commission releases report finding decreased Chinese governmental involvement in economic decision-making
The BNA's WTO Reporter reports as follows (below is just an excerpt):
China's government is less involved now than in the past in attempting to influence decisionmaking in various sectors of the economy, the International Trade Commission found in a report released April 10.
The report, China: Description of Selected Government Practices and Policies Affecting Decision Making in the Economy, is the first of three requested by the House Ways and Means Committee. In the first report, the committee asked the ITC to describe practices and policies China's central, provincial, and local government bodies use to influence decisionmaking in the economy, including in the manufacturing, agricultural, and services sectors.
"The pace and magnitude of China's economic changes create challenges to understanding the role of the government in firm-level decisionmaking in China's manufacturing, agricultural, and services sectors. Although the extent of government involvement varies by sector in China's economy, the government is less involved than in the past," the ITC report found.
A PDF copy of the report (Investigation No. 332-492, USITC Publication 3978, December 2007) is available here. You can also get a copy by sending an e-mail request to Pubrequest@usitc.gov.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
CNN has now been sued in China over Jack Cafferty's now-famous "thugs and goons" comments. Lawsuits have been brought in both Beijing and Luoyang. According to news reports, the Beijing court has not yet "accepted" the case (this might refer to formal docketing (li'an 立案)); the Zhengzhou court has "accepted" (接受) the complaint (in this case, presumably meaning it has agreed to read it and think more about it), but has not yet decided whether to docket it.
Here's my quick-and-dirty analysis (I'm busy preparing for a class):
Chinese law does allow damages for what under US law would be considered merely insulting expressions of opinion (and therefore non-actionable) - I'm thinking of the case in which a journalism professor sued a web site for posting a student's derogatory opinions about him and his teaching materials. (Discussed here.) Thus, under existing Chinese law, I think the Dalai Lama, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Patten, and Chen Shuibian might have a good case against Xinhua and various Chinese government officials (although of course the prospects of their being allowed to sue and win are, to say the least, remote). The problem here, though, is different: can individuals who feel offended by a general derogatory reference about their group do anything about it? (Let's assume for the sake of argument that Cafferty was including all Chinese, and not just the government.) To allow this kind of suit is opening a real can of worms. The relevant precedent in this case might be the Zhengzhou lawyers who sued the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau because they were offended at the PSB's insulting banner about Henan criminal gangs. (Discussed here.) That case ended in a mediated settlement, though, so we don't have a court ruling. Still, I guess it's significant that the court accepted the case in the first place, and didn't throw it out immediately as not stating a claim. At the same time, though, the court in question was a Zhengzhou court, and in any case may not have analyzed the complaint in terms of whether or not it stated a claim for which relief could be granted.
SUPPLEMENTAL POST: Prof. Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment expert at UCLA School of Law, has very kindly responded to my invitation to comment on US law aspects as follows:
Indeed, under U.S. law the "thugs and goons" comment would be clearly constitutionally protected opinion. Even under Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952), which upheld some sorts of group libel laws, such a statement about a foreign country would likely be protected. But Beauharnais is widely (and correctly, I think) viewed as having been implicitly overturned by New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) and later libel cases.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
In this article in the Legal Daily (法制日报), three expert commentators (Hu Yunteng of the SPC research department, Chen Weidong of the Renda Law School, and Liu Renwen of CASS Law Institute) look back on the first year of the Supreme People's Court's exercise of its exclusive review power over death penalty cases.
HT: Joshua Rosenzweig
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Hu Jia's lawyer Li Fangping states that following his conviction, Hu Jia was held incommunicado and barred from consulting with his legal team to discuss an appeal. The period for lodging an appeal has now expired. Here's the AFP report.
Here's my previous post on this subject.
On March 31st, the Beijing municipal government promulgated a set of rules, effective May 1st, that banned smoking in many public places, including restaurants. My thought at the time was that if they could really make this ban stick, we would have to rethink many of our ideas about Chinese state capacity. It looks like we can postpone the rethinking: the China Daily reports that "Beijing restaurants, bars and Internet cafes have been exempted from a proposed smoking ban at public venues in response to concerns expressed by business owners." Here's the Associated Press report.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Here's a list (possibly incomplete), courtesy of Neysun Mahboubi, of China-related presentations at the upcoming annual meeting in Montreal of the Law and Society Association:
Thursday 12:30 - 2:15 pm 1310 Death and Other Penalties 1310
conference RM 10 Chia-Wen Lee, National Cheng-Kung University Understanding Capital Punishment in Taiwan
Thursday 2:30 - 4:15 pm 1407 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Law and Human Rights and Social Movements in East Asia 1407
conference RM 07 Holning Lau, Hofstra University Economic Arguments for Human Rights: The Case of Sexual Orientation Rights
Friday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 2206 The Roles and Perceptions of Crime Victims in National and International Settings 2206
conference RM 06 George Zheng, University of Hong Hong Which Kind of Party? The Role of Crime Victims in the Criminal Procedure in China
Friday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 2212 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Theoretical Issues in East Asian Law and Politics 2212
conference RM 12 Simon-Hoey Lee, Tsinghua University The Chinese Way of "Market" Reform in Search: A Study from the Property Law Legislature
Friday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 2226 Globalization, Crime, and Human Rights 2226
conference RM 26 Patrick Keenan, University of Illinois China, Africa, and Human Rights: A Theory of Wealth and Conditions
Friday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 2228 Legal Pluralism as Mediation between Traditional and Modern Legal Cultures 2228
conference RM 28 Qinglan Long, University of Hong Kong Relevancy between Corporations and Clans: Ideologies behind Comparative Law
Friday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 2229 Empirical Research on Cause Lawyers in the U.S. and Asia 2229
conference RM 29 1. Sida Liu, University of Chicago and Terence Halliday, American BarFoundation Dancing Handcuffed in a Mine Field: Survival Strategies of Defense Lawyers in China's Legal Complex 2. Waikeung Tam, University of Chicago The Rise of Liberal Cause Lawyering in Hong Kong: Roles, Opportunities, and Constraints
Friday 12:30 - 2:15 pm 2311 Managing Health as a Public Good: Risks, Panics, and Accountabilities 2311
conference RM 11 Wei-Hong Wang, National Taiwan Normal University A Comparative Study on Human Right Protection in the Post-SARS Public Health Laws in Taiwan and China
Friday 2:30 - 4:15 pm 2406 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Police, Confessions, and Criminal Justice in East Asia 2406
conference RM 06 Li Chen, Columbia University History and Politics of China's Legal Reform in Summary Criminal Procedures, 1997-2007
Friday 4:30 - 6:15 pm 2513 Roundtable: The Role of Law in Contemporary Russia and China--A Comparative Approach 2513
conference RM 13 Mary E. Gallagher, University of Michigan Participant Randall Peerenboom, Foundation for Law Justice and Society Participant
Saturday 2:30 - 4:15 pm 3415 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Roundtable--Gender and Law in East Asia 3415
conference RM 15 Xiaonan Liu, China University of Political Science and Law Participant
Saturday 4:30 - 6:15 pm 3504 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Transformation of Professional Legal Education in East Asia 3504
conference RM 04 Richard Wu, University of Hong Kong Significance of Professional Legal Education Reform in Hong Kong to Practical Skill Training in Chinese Law Schools: A Critical Assessment
Saturday 4:30 - 6:15 pm 3510 CRN24 Rule of Law, State Building, and Transition--Regulatory Perspectives on the Rule of Law 3510
conference RM 10 Michael W. Dowdle, Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) China and the Post-Regulatory State
Sunday 8:15 - 10:00 am 4103 CRN24 Rule of Law, State Building, and Transition--The Post-Developmental State 4103
conference RM 03 Michael W. Dowdle, Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) Chair/Discussant 1. Fuyong Chen, Tsinghua University / UC Berkeley Striving for Independence, Competence, and Fairness: A Case Study of Beijing Arbitration Commission 2. Yue Niu, University of Hong Kong The HKSAR Basic Law and Universal Suffrage for the Legislative Council
Sunday 8:15 - 10:00 am 4117 New Forms of Property: Legal and Economic Consequences 4117
conference RM 17 Haiyan Liu, Indiana University Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement and Criminalization in the US, Taiwan and Mainland, China
Sunday 8:15 - 10:00 am 4123 Symbolic and Legal Effects of Courts in Political Change and Transitions 4123
conference RM 23 Neysun Mahboubi, Yale University Suing Government in China
Sunday 10:15 - 12:00 pm 4204 CRN33 East Asian Law and Society--Women in Law and Legal Education in East Asia 4204
conference RM 04 Xiaonan Liu, China University of Political Science and Law Getting Away from Private Sphere: Women in Legal Education and Profession
Monday, April 7, 2008
The State Compensation Law provides (Art. 26) that "If a citizen's freedom of the person is infringed, compensatory payment for each day shall be assessed in accordance with the state average daily pay of staff and workers in the previous year." For better or for worse, this establishes a uniform national standard of compensation for lost freedom, no matter where you are or what your earning power is. (Better, because surely a poor person's freedom in subjective terms cannot be said to be systematically less valuable to him or her than a rich person's; worse, because in terms of actual lost earnings of which the wrongfully imprisoned person and his or her dependents are deprived, the poor person's freedom really is less valuable.) The Supreme People's Procuracy has just told us what the number is for 2007 (and hence will be used in 2008): 99.31 yuan (US$14.17) per day.
Incidentally, this way of measuring damages - that is, with reference to average values instead of being precisely tailored to the person in question - is not limited to state compensation; it's found in wrongful death damages as well.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Here are some observations on the conviction of Hu Jia from the Dui Hua Foundation. The article compares the time taken to process Hu's case and finds it extraordinarily fast, compared with other similar cases in Dui Hua's database. It concludes that one "cannot help but suspect that the relevant authorities were reluctant to announce a judgment against Hu too close to the Olympics (where it might cause image problems), preferring instead to send an early warning to other activists not to make trouble." It also suggests that based on what we know of sentences in similar cases, there is no reason to consider Hu's sentence particularly lenient, contrary to Xinhua's claim.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Fresh from his kidnapping by the police, Teng Biao has now joined an effort to offer legal assistance to Tibetans detained in the recent unrest. Here is the open letter in which he and several other signatories offer assistance. Teng is a brave man; the rabid nationalists - and there sure seem to be a lot of them - may be less polite to him than the police were.