September 2, 2009
Update on Gao ZhishengGao Zhisheng was "disappeared" by the security forces in February, and it's been speculated he may in fact be dead, given his savage treatment before and the fact that the authorities still refuse to acknowledge they have him (to say nothing of providing a legal justification for the manner and length of his detention). But apparently he called family in July. Here's an update from the blogger Siweiluozi.
Shijiazhuang Administration of Industry and Commerce sued for failing to allow access to corporate recordsHere's an interesting story from Caijing. Plaintiff wanted access to corporate records held by the local AIC (whose job it is to hold such records) in order to help resolve a dispute over stock ownership. The AIC refused to give access, claiming that it had lost the records in a move, and that in any case the type of records it held could not prove her case. Corporate records are supposed to be public, but I'm told (I've never tried) that in fact you can't just walk in and get access; you need to satisfy the AIC that you have some legitimate need. The plaintiff here is claiming a violation of both the Company Law and the Regulations on Open Government Information. No judgment yet.
September 1, 2009
A real-time account of a wife's effort to get her husband out of administrative detentionIt's going on right now and she's blogging about it. It's best to start with the first entry here. The wife is a US citizen; the husband is a Chinese citizen. (I mention this only because she reveals this in one of the blog entries.)
The end of an era
The Procuratorial Daily (检察日报) reports on the imminent removal from the corpus of Chinese law (it appears in a few places) of the crime of "speculation" (投机倒把). This crime is a typical feature of planned economies, but because it often means nothing more than buying low and selling high (and it is typically not strictly defined), is obviously unsuited for the current Chinese economy. The resolution now before the NPC Standing Committee amending various laws reflects that fact.
My sense is that there have been very few prosecutions for speculation in the last several years, and what there has been has not been for acts such as buying low in place X and selling high in place Y. Instead, they have been for acts that were administratively prohibited but not explicitly criminalized. For example, many years ago the Chen brothers started an IP telephony service in Fujian that irritated the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications; they were raided and convicted (possibly later reversed - I don't recall) on speculation charges. (Memo to pack rats: keep the faith! I stored materials on this case for years and finally seem to have thrown them out last spring, thinking I would never use them, in a general office clean-up.) More details here.
Thus, what we're seeing here is more a legislative tidying-up than a major shift in policy.