Thursday, August 28, 2008
I started this blog with the intention of making and keeping a promise to readers that I would blog only about Chinese law and not waste their time with self-indulgent ramblings on other topics. I'm going to go off topic here, but only to present something that will be of interest to all sinologists: a marvelous account of the origins of ping pong by Alice Lyman Miller of the Hoover Institution (posted here with permission) that might otherwise never be broadly circulated.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Here's an announcement from the US-China Business Council:
The U.S.-China Legal Cooperation Fund invites proposals seeking grants to fund projects fostering rule of law in China, to be carried out jointly by American and Chinese not-for-profit participants.
The Fund's objective is to promote respected, transparent, impartial and equitable legal processes and institutions through U.S.-China bilateral cooperation.
The Fall 2008 deadline for submission of proposals is October 1, 2008.
Further information is available at www.uschinalegalcoop.org.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The July 15, 2008 issue of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) (No. 20/297) has several articles on petitioning, including a good one on "petition cut-off economics" (截访经济) described by Michael Anti as follows:
[It] depicts how local governments hire some "Petition Cut-off Agents" in Beijing, who help to persuade the petitioners in front of the central ministries to go back home and try to reduce the "petition figures" in the National Petition Ranking System for his province or city. In this ranking system, if a province or city's score gets a rise, it will be regarded as a failed political governing, where the top officials would get fewer chances of promotion.
So local governments just send those paid agents to Beijing, to cut off the petitioners from their places. Cut-off may mean persuasion, coercion, cheat or just kidnap. Sometime they need to pretend to be a central official to convince the petitioners, so many of them could speak very good Mandarin. It is a serious job. Even in a remote, poor and tiny county in Shaanxi Province, these petition cut-off payment in 2007 was totally RMB 150000. This economy has a volumn of billions. A cut-off agent even becomes friend of top officials in his province, for their political careers are just on his hand.
The main article is entitled 大陆“截访”链条调查 (sorry, it's not available on line), and there's another one by Yu Jianrong (于建嵘) entitled 谁在承受截访的成本? (Who Bears the Cost of Cutting Off Petitions?) that's available here.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Journal of Asian Studies has just published a favorable review of the following book; looks interesting.
Writing and Law in Late Imperial China: Crime, Conflict, and Judgment. Edited by Robert E. Hegel and Katherine Carlitz. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007. xv, 343 pp. $65.00 (cloth)
Monday, August 4, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The EastWestNorthSouth blog has an English-language report (with a link to the Chinese-language report) on the first lawsuit against web sites for publishing personal information about the plaintiff in the "human flesh search engine" (HFSE) context. HFSE refers to a phenomenon in China something like an electronic lynching: a victim is identified for various reasons, and then people find out personal information about him or her and post it on line, leading to real-world harassment that can be quite serious (death threats, vandalism to property, getting fired, etc.). In this case, the husband of a woman who committed suicide was the victim; he was thought by the e-mob (correctly or not, I don't know) to have driven her to suicide by his infidelity.
It's kind of depressing that the Chinese term for this should be "human flesh search engine". Those who enthusiastically participate seem unaware of a certain irony: 90 years ago Lu Xun published "Diary of a Madman", which condemned Chinese society for its (metaphorically) cannibalistic tendencies.
This is a bit belated; the Antimonopoly Law came into effect on Aug. 1. Many of the necessary accompanying regulations remain unissued, however, and the antimonopoly authority contemplated by the law remains undesignated. Here's a good article from Caijing on the problems (subscription required to read it all). And here's a comment from attorney Paul Jones, who's been following it:
It is now August 1, 2008 in China and thus the new 反垄断法 or Anti-Monopoly Law has come into effect.
Unfortunately none of the 40 odd regulations or guidelines that are rumored to have been drafted has been adopted yet, and only one, the Merger Notification Regulation, has even been released for consultation. Some Chinese commentators have described this situation as “embarrassing.”
The web site Of the Supreme People’s Court even carries an article regarding a Notice or Circular from the SPC to China’s courts advising them on how to deal with proceedings to enforce provisions of the new law:
But the Notice or Circular itself is still not available online. That is a shame because it raises some interesting issues. It has been known for some time that the Intellectual Property sections of China’s courts would be assigned to also deal with AML cases, but the article further states that this is because intellectual property and AML cases are “related” and these benches will be hearing cases about the abuse of intellectual property rights. Having the actual wording of the Notice would help to understand this position.
See this article from today’s (July31st) Caijing Magazine: http://www.caijing.com.cn/2008-07-31/110001723.html
One foreign lawyer who attended the seminar on the AML and IP rights in April remarked that he was surprised at how convinced the Chinese participants were that abuse of IP rights was common and that the AML would be used to deal with it.
Many commentators in China are unhappy that the enforcement of the AML has been divided among the Ministry of Commerce (mergers), the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (monopoly agreements and abuse of dominant position), and the National Development and Research Commission (price related matters). No one is quite sure how this is going to work and some are hoping that it is just a temporary situation.
Several articles have mentioned candidates for early enforcement and of course Microsoft is regularly mentioned. But so is Tetra Pak of Sweden. And there has been considerable discussion of the possible application of the AML to foreign car dealerships.
In my view there are interesting times ahead, but they may take longer than expected to emerge.