Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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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。

耶鲁大学法学院波特·斯图尔特宪法学教席教授
中国法律中心主任
葛维宝教授
2009年7月18日

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 (Sina.com), 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 Sina.com 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 Sina.com 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)

苍天在上----公盟要被处罚142万多元

2009年7月14日,公盟接到北京市国家税务局和地方税务局同时送来的《税务行政处罚事项告知书》,拟于7月24日之前做出行政处罚,地税拟处罚30多万元,国税拟追缴18万多元所得税并处93万多元罚款,两项加起来一共是142万多元。

其中,地税的30万元处罚是针对耶鲁大学法学院自2006年以来的四笔资助以及公盟研究员王功权先生于2009年4月的资助,耶鲁大学的四笔资助我们于2009年5月已经交了税,功权的资助刚刚报给会计还没有来得及上税就被查了。国税的处罚同样是针对耶鲁大学法学院的合作项目,我们努力解释过,2007到2008年度的合作合同直到2009年初才确认完成,2008到2009年度的合作项目还没有完成,给我们的钱只能算是预付款,而且,公盟得到的捐助全部用于法律研究和弱势群体的法律援助等事项,没有任何剩余,哪里来18万多元的所得税并处93万多元的罚款?

公盟是一家公益组织,无奈注册成公司,我们一直在申请民政注册。我们认识到了管理确实不够规范,我们都不太懂工商税务,尽管我一再强调过我们的税务不能出现法律问题,但我们聘请的专业会计没有及时帮助我们。在税务稽查的时候,我们默默尽力配合,主动更正一些过错。但是,在丑陋的敌意面前,所有这一切努力都已经没有意义。我们已经缴纳的营业税还是被处罚,我们没有任何盈余还是被处罚所得税,而且,根据法律处罚额度在50%到5倍之间,税务部门没有任何理由一律按最重的5倍处罚。

142万的处罚,也许对很多企业而言都算不得什么,可是对于公盟而言,这是残忍而邪恶的,这不是对公盟的处罚,这是对毒奶粉受害的孩子、打工子弟学校的孩子、遭遇物业公司欺负的业主、为内心正义奔走呼号的上访者......是对千千万万最需要帮助的无权无势者的处罚,这处罚丧尽天良!

我们已经很谨慎了,考虑到一些没有良心的畜生们说三道四,我们拒绝接受一些基金会资助,我们选择了耶鲁大学法学院是因为他们也给一些政府部门资助,我了解他们,他们爱中国。公盟与耶鲁大学法学院的合作项目包括北京户籍制度改革研究,提出新移民准入制度的建议;就钉子户问题、西丰县委书记进京抓记者等问题召开研讨会;为小区业主维权呼吁;反对打工子弟学校强制拆迁;为河北承德五次被判处死刑的无辜公民、为被警方打死的杜学磊等一些列极端的冤案提供法律援助;提出司法改革建议;两会期间提出给人大代表的建议,等等。我们所有的努力都是理性的建设性的,我们怀着善良的愿望推动民主法治公平正义,我们从来都是这样怀着纯真的愿望。

合作项目的钱已经用完了。公盟是一个志愿者团队,我们所有的成员是凭内心的良知和正义感做事,除了很少的办公室专职人员外,我们大部分成员不拿工资,我们把所有的钱都用于良心和正义的事业,我们没有任何利润,从来也没有打算获得利润,我们的收获只是感动。现在如果税务部门要公盟补18万多元的所得税并作出93万多元的处罚,这巨额的罚款只能来自公盟现有的钱----素不相识的朋友们那100元、200元甚至5元、10元的捐助。

这是不可能的!作为公盟的法定代表人,我宁愿接受七年的刑事处罚,也绝不会把这些5元、10元的捐助交给丧尽天良的畜生们。说我许志永犯了偷税罪,就像临沂的警察指控我是小偷一样,可笑!

也许有人在背后恶狠狠地说,公盟有政治目的,我对这种说法报以同情。我们的政治目的很清楚,是为了这个国家民主法治公平正义,为了每一个人的自由和幸福,不仅为了我们具体帮助的个体,更是为了建立民主法治健全的制度,让所有的人,包括那些至今仍然对我们怀有敌意的同胞也能获得正义、自由和尊严。

有人说,公盟就是为社会制造麻烦。我仿佛看到了一张被仇恨和猥琐弄脏了的脸,说,终于逮到了,罚,给我狠狠地罚,只要沾一点边的都给我罚,让你们再给我制造麻烦!不是我们制造麻烦,一年数万起群体性事件不是我们制造的,杨佳不是我们制造的,相反,我们努力把贪官污吏制造的矛盾纳入法治轨道,我们倡导绝对的非暴力,希望我们的社会没完没了的仇恨和冲突能够用爱化解。我们不仅是为了那些遭遇邪恶不公正的受难者,也是为了高高在上的肉食者,我们对这个民族怀有深深的责任----不要让这个国家再出现动荡以至于权贵们死无葬身之地,不要让我们民族的悲剧重演。

为什么,为什么我们要遭到如此报应?因为我们一身浩然正气,因为我们倡导美好的政治,因为我们的愿望太美好了,因为我们对这个民族从没有放弃希望,因为无论遭遇什么我们内心从来充满希望的阳光。

我很荣幸再次成为小偷。第一次是在临沂,我被指控为小偷并被带到派出所,在没有辩护人的情况下我的朋友----一个从小双目失明为当地村民的尊严而奔走呼号的中国人以故意毁坏财物罪判处四年徒刑。这次是在北京,我偷税,哈----哈----哈----!我是一个穷人,穷的只剩下信仰了。大人,把我的美好的信仰贡献给您一点行吗?你们应该需要这种信仰,你们应该有能力像我一样心怀慈悲,慈悲地看着鬼魅魍魉们不安的灵魂。

我是一个穷人,我们是一群穷人,你们不能从我们这里敲诈钱财,也夺不去我们执着的信念。我们没有愤怒,更没有仇恨,我们满怀慈悲,继续走自己的路。公盟不会灭亡的,这个民族的良心和正义的希望不会灭亡的。

许志永2009年7月15日

Statement of Beijing NGOs (July 16, 2009)

北京民间机构对公盟被税务机关处罚的联合声明

今日从公盟法定代表人许志永处惊闻,公盟研究所,工商注册为北京公盟咨询有限责任公司,被北京市海淀区地税局和国税局征税加处罚,金额合计142万余元。民间组织呼吁税务部门重新考虑对于工商注册的民间组织的选择性处罚。

在中国想以民间的力量服务社会,成立不盈利的组织,迫于现行法律规定,最佳的渠道竟然是成立盈利性质的公司。目前,大量机构不得不在筹资、服务社会之余,还面临巨额的赋税压力。近期,北京市税务部门对于部分从事人权工作的非盈利机构进行了选择性的税务检查,包括北京知爱行信息咨询有限责任公司,北京京鼎律师事务所,北京传知行社会经济咨询有限公司等等。公盟很不幸在今年的税务稽查中被处以高额的罚款。无论如何,今日对于公盟的选择性处罚,明日即可能落在任何一家工商注册的民间组织身上。这种选择性的高额处罚,堵死了民间机构服务社会的最后一条路。

为此,我们呼吁:

1,北京市海淀区税务机关重新考虑对于工商注册的非盈利组织的选择性处罚;
2,企业管理机构取消对于工商注册的民间机构的歧视性执法;
3,开放民间机构的注册工作,从根子上消除非盈利机构注册成盈利性机构的的尴尬现状,
4,向国际接轨,为非盈利组织提供财政支持。

联署人:

北京慧灵
北京益仁平中心
无国界爱心
德先生研究所
打工之友
中国律师观察网
北京爱知行研究所
NGO诚信网

2009年7月16日

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)