Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Here's an announcement from NYU Law School's U.S.-Asia Law Institute. I attended this discussion and it was very good. All the participants are doing very interesting research on China's courts.
Now showing on the US-Asia Law Institute’s website is the webcast of “China’s Changing Courts: Populist Vehicle or Party Puppet?” from Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 and featuring a panel of China law scholars, including Prof. Ben Liebman of Columbia Law School, Prof. Xin “Frank” He of the City University of Hong Kong School of Law, Prof. Nicholas C. Howson of the University of Michigan School of Law, Prof. Carl Minzner of Washington University School of Law, and Rachel E. Stern, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.
We invite you to watch the webcast here: http://www.usasialaw.org/
After watching, please submit questions to the panelists.
The panelists will be taking questions from the web audience; 10 questions will be answered on our website. Please submit questions by Wednesday, February 25, 2009 via email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Court Panel Question."
We will post the answers by Monday, March 2, 2009.
Note that you will need RealPlayer to watch the webcast. RealPlayer can be downloaded for free: www.real.com
Monday, February 16, 2009
Self-described barefoot scholar David Cowhig (currently living in Chengdu) offers this very interesting review and summary of one of two books he recently came across on customary law among the Miao (known outside China as the Hmong). I've made a few minor editorial changes.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Here's an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Jerome Cohen and Eva Pils on the continuing disappearance of Gao Zhisheng (高智晟). Actions like this are the most convincing refutations of the "Asian values" thesis that holds that human rights violations are just manifestations of differing values conscientiously held.
If you want to see differing values (differing from mine, at least) conscientiously held, look at capital punishment in Texas, where one gubernatorial race (known locally as the "fry-off") had candidates arguing about who could take credit for more death sentences during their respective previous terms as governor and attorney-general. They weren't trying to hide anything.
Gao Zhisheng's case is obviously different. Here we have a government that is unwilling to say, "Yes, this man did X, we believe it's wrong, and we're going to punish him for it." In effect, they are acknowledging the validity of a value system under which Gao (apparently) isn't punishable. They say that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. The same thing is going on here: concealment and lies are the acknowledgment that what's going on here is not some civilizational clash of values at all.
Even if I'm right, of course, this incident logically refutes the Asian values thesis only in this particular instance, not in all cases at all times. (There are other weaknesses of the thesis that I won't go into here in this short post.) But cases like this are pretty common; the typical response of human rights violators is not to justify the violation but to deny it. (Take this recent report: the Chinese delegation to the UN solemny declared that China does not engage in press censorship!)