Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Where is Xu Zhiyong?" Evan Osnos in the New Yorker

Here's a fine short essay by the New Yorker's Evan Osnos on the detention (or disappearance, if you prefer, since the police haven't admitted they've got him) of Xu Zhiyong. It's the kind of event that normally calls out for an adjective like "shameful," but that might imply that previous detentions of people like him were not.

My friend Jeffrey Prescott of Yale's China Law Center is quoted in the essay as saying, "He is someone of rare idealism, judgment, commitment to law, selfless dedication, and fundamental decency. So that makes his detention very hard to understand." I disagree with Jeff. All those things make his detention that much easier to understand.

July 31, 2009 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Republic of China's legal team at the Tokyo War Crimes trials

Chinalaw list member Glenn Tiffert writes (I quote with his permission):

I finally carved out the time to watch 《丧钟为谁而鸣》(For Whom Does the Death Knell Toll), a very well-done PRC documentary on the Tokyo War Crimes trials, the impressive (Republican) Chinese legal team that took part and the background to some of the crimes charged.  It includes outstanding historical footage.  I highly recommend it.  For those interested, all seven parts are on, the first here:

July 30, 2009 in Commentary, Research Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"How to Avoid Getting Kidnapped in China"

Has it really come to the point where it's normal to have articles with headlines like this? Anyway, here's the article from with advice on the right and wrong way to handle business disputes in China and the value of legal remedies.

July 29, 2009 in Commentary | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Job opening: Trade Compliance Officer, US Dep't of Commerce (Beijing)

Details are here. Don't delay if interested - the application deadline is July 31st.

July 28, 2009 in Internships/Employment Opportunities | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Suing Chinese drywall manufacturers in the US: why bother?

Anyone who reads this blog should also be reading the China Law Blog, but just in case you're not, here's a nice post on US lawyers suing Chinese drywall manufacturers.

July 25, 2009 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Information about presidents of provincial-level courts (Higher-Level People's Courts)

From David Cowhig comes the following comment:

The electronic edition of today's Chengdu Shangbao runs the numbers on Chinese provincial supreme court chief presiding judges.  Fourteen are from the party system -- government or party careers, some never having had a job in the justice system.  Some have law degrees though. Fourteen are from the justice system -- they came up through the courts or from among the ranks of lawyers. According to the article, both types of judges have their strengths. Government and party -system judges are politically sensitive and are good are coordinating various interests. Moreover with all their party and government connections, they are better at getting money for the courts that judges who have come up through the justice system. Judges from the legal system have greater experience.  Though the party and government system presiding judges sometimes don't have a lot of legal knowledge, the deputy presiding judge who manages court operations assigns them a good assistant, and so the quality of legal judgments is just as good as other judges.

July 20, 2009 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Statement of support for Xu Zhiyong and the Open Constitution Initiative

Here's a statement in support of OCI and Xu Zhiyong, in English and Chinese, from Prof. Paul Gewirtz of Yale Law School, the director of Yale's China Law Center:

I am very concerned to learn that the Open Constitution Initiative (OCI, also known as Gongmeng) has been ordered closed by Beijing’s Civil Affairs Bureau and has been preliminarily assessed punitive tax-related fines.

OCI and its founder and director Professor Xu Zhiyong, a PhD graduate of Peking University Law School, have worked with Yale Law School’s China Law Center (CLC) on a continuing basis for several years.  Yale’s CLC undertakes cooperative research and exchanges with a wide variety of institutions in China, including many Chinese government entities, leading law schools, scholars, and lawyers.  Our cooperative research and exchanges with OCI have focused on legal issues of importance in both China and the United States, and we have found OCI’s work to be of high caliber and professionalism.  We hope that its valuable work can continue.  We also hope that the relevant Chinese authorities will reconsider these penalties and decisions once they have obtained additional information from OCI at the requested hearings.

Professor Paul Gewirtz
Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law, and
Director, The China Law Center
Yale Law School
July 18, 2009

我十分关注公盟(英文名称Open Constitution Initiative)被北京民政局勒令关闭,并初步处以税务罚款一事。

多年以来,公盟与它的法定代表人许志永博士(北京大学法学院博士)与耶鲁大学法学院中国法律中心有着长期连续的合作。耶鲁中国法律中心与中国的各个团体在多个研究课题上有广泛的合作和交流,其中包括许多中国政府部门、一流的法学院、法学学者和律师。我们与公盟的研究合作和交流着眼于中美两国重要的法律问题。我们一直以来都认为公盟的研究成果是高质量和专业的。 我们期待公盟能够继续开展它的宝贵工作。 我们也希望中国相关部门能够在公盟所申请的听证会中获得更多的信息,并重新考虑初步处以罚款、勒令关闭等决定。


July 18, 2009 in Commentary, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chinese government censors my blog post on Xu Zhiyong

I guess it is some sort of distinction that the Chinese government thinks my posts are worth censoring. My US-based blog (at Typepad) is blocked in China, but I always figured that was because some enthusiastic official saw some transgressive post years ago and nobody has ever bothered to take another look since.

In response to the blocking of the US-based blog, I set up another blog inside the Great Firewall, and simply copy all my posts here onto that one. This makes the blog easily readable inside China. Very occasionally blog posts get deleted by the blog host (, and the one I posted recently on the tax fine levied on Xu Zhiyong's Open Constitution Initiative was one such post. I don't know if did it themselves out of an excess of caution or whether they were told to do so.

Anyway, an interesting straw in the wind.

UPDATE July 19, 2009: A commentator correctly points out that the deletion may have been made by on its own initiative without waiting for an order from some authority. Thus, the attribution of this action to the government may not, strictly speaking, be correct. On the other hand, the government does not escape responsibility. The action took place within a system where blog hosts are supposed to judge which posts are likely to be deemed unacceptable and delete them, or else face consequences later.

July 18, 2009 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beijing rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong's Open Constitution Initiative slapped with 1.42 million yuan tax fine

Take a good look at the Open Constitution Initiative's web site; it may not be around much longer. This organization - in substance, a non-profit NGO but technically a company, since organizing as a non-profit NGO is extremely difficult in China - was just slapped with a gigantic 1.42 million yuan fine by the tax authorities for alleged tax violations. While the OCI's leader Xu Zhiyong does not deny the possibility of minor violations, one can reasonably suspect that more is going on here that just tax problems. I'm reproducing below two documents: (1) a statement from Xu Zhiyong on this matter; and (2) a joint statement from several Beijing NGOs.

Statement of Xu Zhiyong (July 15, 2009)















Statement of Beijing NGOs (July 16, 2009)









July 15, 2009 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enforcement of Chinese-foreign contracts: some counterintuitive views

Here's a nicely paired set of posts from the China Law Blog:

1. Foreigners can often ignore their contractual obligations to Chinese companies, because Chinese companies (at least in some circumstances - read the post) have a strange reluctance to sue even where they'd almost certainly win.

2. Chinese companies can not ignore their contractual obligations to foreigners (or others), because Chinese courts really will enforce, with reasonable effectiveness, well written and not-too-complicated contracts.

I'm simplifying, of course; read the posts.

July 14, 2009 in Commentary | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Australia's Rio Tinto employees detained in Shanghai

The use of state power to back up one side in commercial disputes is not uncommon in China. In what may be another example (too soon to tell), the Financial Times reports that four employees of Rio Tinto, currently in bad odor in China for reasons explained in the article (as well as being in the middle of tough negotiations with Chinese iron ore buyers), were detained in Shanghai without explanation. Subsequent information is that at least one employee will be charged with espionage and theft of state secrets.

This is pretty serious. Typically in commercial disputes, the criminal charge is one of fraud or something similar, whereas espionage and state secrets charges are used in political cases (as they probably are, of course, where actual espionage and state secrets are involved - but overuse breeds skepticism). Here, however, we have a company involved in tense commercial negotiations and these very serious charges against employees - it's unusual.

July 8, 2009 in News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 6, 2009

When (and why) to have your contract in Chinese

Here's a good post on the subject from Dan Harris at the Chinalaw blog.

July 6, 2009 in Commentary | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Prof. Benjamin Liebman and Chinese courts

Here's a nice profile of Ben Liebman, a fellow Chinese law professor at Columbia. It has some interesting points about Ben's work on Chinese courts.

July 4, 2009 in People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)