Saturday, May 17, 2008
Here's a note on libel cases in China from the China's Scientific & Academic Integrity Watch blog. In a recent case, a manufacturer sued CCTV for a report it had made criticizing its products. Although apparently part of the CCTV report was factually false, it won on the grounds that manufacturers should put up with sharp criticism from the media. This is similar to the principle enunciated in a 2003 case from Guangzhou: that journalists should be immune from suit if their is backed by a source that is reasonable and credible and not based simply on rumors. (Text of judgment and commentary by Pu Zhiqiang here.) Can citizen critics benefit from these court decisions in favor of media defendants with government connections? China does not of course have a system of precedent (even if it did, these lower-court decisions wouldn't bind other courts), but judges do look at what other judges are doing.