Saturday, September 27, 2008
Here's the story from Caijing; here's the AFP report. He got two years for fraud and 18 months for unlawful possession of ammunition; the two sentences were combined to a single term of two and a half years.
One issue was where exactly the fraud occurred. The defendant, Zhou Zhenglong, apparently received a reward of 20,000 yuan from the Shaanxi provincial forestry department, but this seems to have been an ex gratia payment, not a payment on a pre-existing reward promise. It seems likely to me that Zhou is just a dumb schmuck who one day woke up and acted on a bad and poorly thought-through idea, and then got caught up in something way beyond his imagination and control. Now he has lost two years from his life for embarrassing provincial officials.
Here's a new report [English|French|Chinese] from China Labour Bulletin, Han Dongfang's Hong-Kong based labor rights organization. It's called "No Way Out: Worker Activism in China's State-Owned Enterprise Reforms". A blurb describing the report is here; it states that the report
is based on five years of research, and draws extensively on CLB’s litigation in defence of worker’s rights. The report uses five illustrative cases to explore the many ways in which enterprise restructuring and privatization violated the human rights of laid-off workers; including their systematic exclusion from official channels of redress, the criminalization of labour protests, and the denial of workers’ rights to social security, to an adequate standard of living, to freedom of association and to freedom from arbitrary detention.
I have received the following announcement:
On Friday October 3, 2008, the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School will present a full-day colloquium on the Rule of Law and Human Rights in China. This is an invitational program to be attended by academics, lawyers, members of the diplomatic community, and other experts on human rights, civil society, and the rule of law in China. It will consider these issues in light of the impact of the Olympics, as well as prospects for moving forward in a post-Olympics China. Principal speakers will open each panel with their remarks, followed by a moderated discussion for all attendees.
RSVP to the colloquium is required. Please contact Elisabeth Wickeri at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.
Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham Law School | 33 West 60th Street | 2nd Floor | New York, NY 10023
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The request for consultations, dated Sept. 22, 2008, was made under Art. 4.4 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding and is the first step toward a proceeding before the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body. Here's the text in English: HTML | Word.
China may request the establishment of a dispute settlement panel 60 days after the request for consultations if a settlement hasn't been reached (earlier if both parties agree).
Monday, September 22, 2008
There was a very good discussion on the Chinalaw list earlier this month of the many issues involved in China's first private lawsuit under the Antimonopoly Law. I have edited some of the contributions and put them in an easy-to-follow format for anyone who's interested. The document is here.
Tseming Yang of Vermont Law School sends the following announcement:
We have a job opening for a deputy director of Vermont Law School's Partnership for Environmental Law in China. The position description is below.
We are considering applications as we receive them, and the position will remain open until filled.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I've been asked to circulate this advertisement concerning a new research post in competition/antitrust law and policy to be based at the School of Accounting and Finance, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The relevant web link is http://www.polyu.edu.hk/hro/job_external.htm#rese.
The Sanlu milk power scandal raises interesting issues relating to foreign investment in China, as Sanlu is 43% owned by Fonterra, a New Zealand-based dairy conglomerate. What did Fonterra know and when did it know it; what did it do and what should it have done? These questions are addressed in this article from the New Zealand Herald. But there are other angles to the story as well. The purpose of this post is to offer perspectives from two experienced China hands - Jerome Cohen and Sidney Rittenberg - on the problems of management faced by foreign investors in China. The comments below are reproduced with their permission (and my thanks).
All foreign investors had better review the adequacy of their representation in the management of PRC joint ventures in light of the milk tragedy. What kind of person to post to a China venture's day-to-day management has been a problem from the day Schindler Elevator and Jardine's started the very first industrial JV in 1980. Finding the right people to take on this delicate and responsible task has never been easy. If the designee is not fluent in Chinese and a clever observer and diplomat, as well as someone who has previously worked for the foreign investor or otherwise enjoys its confidence, he or she will not be effective. I have been involved in ventures where even skilled PRC nationals who have been posted to a JV by the foreign investor have been shut out of the inner workings of the enterprise because they were not part of the local partner's "system". In some other cases, even when the foreign company's rep knows that something improper is going on, he or she, especially if a PRC Chinese or ethnically Chinese, is subjected to heavy local pressures and incentives to "go along" and not report it to headquarters back home. This has often posed severe moral and even legal dilemmas for the foreign company's rep and eventually the company itself.
One problem in appointing competent joint venture personnel is that PRC Chinese usually are in the best position, other things being equal - especially if they have been trained in the USA and are clued in to the corporate culture. "Clued in" here means that they do not have an "us and them" attitude towards foreigners. We have had cases where a Chinese staffer who protects the legitimate interests of the American corporation will be called a "traitor" by the same corporation's Chinese representatives.
At the end of the day, everything depends on having the right people. We say, "the Three Cs" - Character, Competence, Connections. Strange though it may seem, some of our excellent corporations overlook the primary issue of character when picking either foreign or Chinese personnel for China. What is their track record? Are they loyal to their commitments? Can you depend on their word? Are they good to work with? This is an important (and challenging) part of due diligence, and due diligence is the name of the game. Sometimes, even the country general manager is picked because he has workable English, shoots an impressive line of self-recommendation, lays on a great banquet (or even a massage parlor), and enthusiastically agrees with everything you say. The hardest kind of case that we get, as consultants, is when the American corporation is already plagued with the wrong hire and has to get rid of him without seriously damaging the company in China.