Thursday, January 7, 2010
Here's a random list of recent interesting stories:
- More news on the trial of Li Zhuang, the defense lawyer accused of fabricating evidence in the course of defending his client, an accused gangster in Chongqing. The case has drawn a great deal of attention because lawyers frequently complain of persecution by police and prosecutors under this charge. Authorities respond by noting that convictions are few. Lawyers counter by noting that detentions and investigations are many, and that that's where the intimidation and damage is done. Indeed, the low ratio of convictions to charges (relative to other crimes) does suggest that this provision of the Criminal Law is being abused. For more, see this paper by Hualing Fu of Hong Kong University's Faculty of Law.
- An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that Chinese censorship could constitute a form of protectionism that violates WTO rules. I'm not an expert in the WTO, but am in principle a little skeptical of this kind of argument (even though I am against censorship) simply because intention has to count for something in legal interpretation, and I'm pretty sure that a large number of governments would never have signed on to WTO obligations had they imagined it constrained their ability to censor domestically. But there may be good arguments the other way. This is not, incidentally, the first time this argument has been made. US groups have been trying to get the USTR to act for some time. See, for example, this Aug. 2008 report from the Financial Times, which begins: "Since the end of last year, the California First Amendment Coalition, a free speech group with ties to the US tech industry, has been pushing the Bush administration to launch a trade dispute against China on internet censorship."
- Law graduates having a tough time finding jobs, from the China Daily. Not a uniquely Chinese problem, unfortunately.
- Chinese government and computer makers sued by US software developer for piracy in Green Dam (internet filtering software) case. According to the plaintiff, the theft was so clumsy and brazen that some messages directing user's to the US developer's web site remained in Green Dam. Here's the story from the Financial Times.
- In-depth study of corruption in local government: Here's a journalist's summary; here's the academic paper, by someone who spent four years getting to know all the local officials in the county in question.