Saturday, November 29, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I recently discovered a good resource on Chinese bankruptcy law (in English) that is probably not well known: the web site of the International Insolvency Institute. They have a page full of papers by scholars such as Shi Jingxia and Wang Weiguo.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I have been asked to post the following:
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) is currently soliciting resumes for spring internships (paid) in Washington D.C., working on Chinese human rights and rule of law issues. Interns must be U.S. citizens.
Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to the CECC via e-mail to Judy Wright or via fax at (202) 226-3804, attention: Judy Wright, Director of Administration.
Please forward the enclosed attachment to interested students (both undergraduate and graduate), particularly those with strong research and language skills.
Director of Administration
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The "urban management" (城管) (UM) authorities have been in the news (and not in a good way) many times over the past several years. UM is a branch of municipal government established to deal in a forceful way with unlicensed peddlers and other blights on the urban landscape - sort of like the Administration of Industry and Commerce with truncheons. The latest outrage is reported by ChinaSMACK here; previous incidents are rounded up by the China Digital Times here.
UM is interesting because of its only quasi-legal status - a status that's especially dicey given the extra desirability of a sound legal basis when you are authorizing people to beat up other people. I'm told that UM operates on an eat-what-you-kill basis, meaning they don't get funding, but can keep what they fine and confiscate.
The shakiness of UM's legal status is further shown by the case of Cui Yingjie (崔英杰), an ex-soldier who killed a UM officer in a dispute. His legal team based their defense among other things on an argument (apparently irrefutable in its factual premises, although not necessarily relevant) that the whole UM system lacked a proper legal basis for its powers: there was no appropriate authorization from the State Council and other problems. After behind-the-scenes negotiations, his lawyers agreed not to press this argument in exchange for a suspended death sentence (such sentences are typically commuted after the two-year suspension period). This would explain the somewhat miraculous outcome in this case: the killer of a quasi-official immediately labeled a "revolutionary martyr" after his death by the municipal Party secretary managed to escape execution.
I have been asked to post the following announcement:
Call for papers: Second Biennial General Conference of the Asian Society of
International Law (Tokyo, 1-2 August 2009)
The Second Biennial General Conference of the Asian Society of International
Law (following its inaugural conference in Singapore in 2007) will take up
the important issue of Asia's relationship with the international legal
order under the main theme of "International Law in a Multi-polar and
Multi-civilizational World - Asian Perspectives, Challenges and
Contributions." The Organizing Committee cordially invites paper proposals
and/or submissions for the event which will be held on 1-2 August 2009 at
the University of Tokyo, Japan. The deadline for panel proposals is 31
December 2008; the deadline for papers for "regular" panels is 31 January
2009; and the deadline for discussant papers in the plenary session and
agorae papers is 28 February 2009.
Please visit the following website for details of the Tokyo Conference 2009.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Here's a report from the Financial Times about proceedings at the Xicheng District court in Beijing in a case involving objections to forced demolition. Although none of the grounds for not opening the proceedings to the public would seem to apply, the court closed them anyway.
It's not difficult to find reports of court proceedings in politically sensitive cases being closed even where the conditions for closing aren't met. Article 7 of the Court Organization Law, passed in 1979, says: "The hearing of all cases by People's Courts shall be public, with the exception of cases involving state secrets, private personal matters, and minors." (人民法院审理案件，除涉及国家机密、个人阴私和未成年人犯罪案件外，一律公开进行。) And this rule has been repeated in other regulations at other times since then (Article 120 of the Civil Procedure Law, for example, has called for open trials since 1991, and there are many, many Supreme People's Court notices and rules on this subject, including this one from 1999). But almost three decades later - a very long time in the history of the PRC, and a period in which other features of Chinese society have changed unrecognizably - courts regularly ignore their own rules, and the promise of truly open court proceedings remains unfulfilled. Kind of remarkable.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Here's an interesting case: 104 writers of master's and doctoral thesis are suing the China National Knowledge Infrastructure database (CNKI) [China | US mirror site] in Chaoyang District, Beijing for putting their theses on line without their permission. According to the plaintiffs, CNKI (operated by a company called Tong Fang, which to the best of my knowledge is owned by Tsinghua University), obtained copies of their theses, scanned and digitized them, and made them available for downloading, all in order to make high profits. They are seeking an apology and compensation.
I'm not an expert in copyright law, but if CNKI didn't get the authors' permission, it looks like a pretty open-and-shut case to me. But I want to talk about the business issue, not the legal one. It seems obvious to me that CNKI should have adopted a different business model. Instead of publishing the theses without seeking permission or paying for them, CNKI should have contacted the authors and offered to put the theses on line if the authors paid CNKI. Let's face it: very few master's and doctoral theses are really worth publishing. Academic authors in China regularly pay to get published in certain journals. If CNKI had treated its web site as a publication opportunity for the authors, to be withheld from them unless they paid, the authors probably would have done so happily - especially given that the database for master's theses was called "Full-Text Database of Outstanding Chinese Master's Theses" (中国优秀硕士学位论文全文数据库). That's exactly the kind of thing people are often willing to pay for.
I'm curious - do my Chinese readers agree with this analysis?
Monday, November 3, 2008
I have received the following announcement:
RWI is currently seeking a Programme Officer at RWI’s Field Office in Beijing for an initial time period of twelve months starting in January 2009, at the earliest. The Programme Officer’s primary responsibilities are to ensure that RWI’s international programmes in China are planned, implemented and followed up so as to achieve expected results enhancing the overall impact, quality and coordination of RWI’s activities in the country.
Full details here.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Here's a report from the Beijing News (新京报) on the switch over to death by lethal injection in China. (The traditional technique has been a bullet in the back of the head.) interesting photographs and quotations. Thanks to Otto Malmgren for the pointer.
Here are two good web sites for information on lethal injection in the US (I suspect anti-death-penalty in orientation), with lots of good links further sources: