Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Commentator Liang Jing on the Li Zhuang case

I recently posted about Li Zhuang, the Beijing lawyer convicted in Chongqing of fabricating evidence. Here's a commentary from PRC-based writer Liang Jing (a pseudonym), translated by David Kelly, Professor of China Studies at the China Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney.

Liang Jing, Implications of the Li Zhuang case*

The implications of last week’s sentencing of Li Zhuang were quite profound. In terms of intellectual-led public opinion, Bo Xilai won the case but in moral terms lost. He clearly manipulated the case, unscrupulously framing Li, and his contempt for the concept of the rule of law in particular outraged many legal and otherwise knowledgeable people, damaging his liberal image, and doing his political future no good.

But there is a deeper question: what made him dare to do so? It seems clear now that from the first day he resolved to strike hard at crime in Chongqing, Bo paid no heed to the past three decades of progress in legal procedures, reverting instead to the Cultural Revolution tradition of “handling cases with campaigns.” This decision of Bo Xilai’s reflects his values, and incorporates one of his grand conclusions: namely that the reforms based on fooling oneself in order to fool others can no longer be kept going, and only politicians who “look as if they mean it” stand a chance of coming out on top.

Even prior to the Li Zhuang case, Feng Xiang, a jurist who has lived in America, could see that Bo Xilai’s “singing red while striking at crime” posed an ethical dilemma for professional “legal persons.” Feng Xiang profoundly criticises those “intellectuals” who can have it both ways in China’s “phoney reforms.” He points out that the rule of law and education failed to achieve substantive progress in China for over three decades and have in fact gone backwards, and the intellectuals believe in and promote freedom are to blame. He points out that China’s “pseudo-reforms” have created an overall environment in which “you indicate left while turning right, speech and action are inconsistent, and the apparent slogans are not the actual rules that are in operation.” “Those who are at home in such an environment are people with split personalities,” they “talk a lot about freedom, democracy, constitutionalism, human rights, etc., behind closed doors,” but in life cannot get along without the privileges granted by dictatorship, and hence become its slaves and tools both voluntarily and involuntarily. [1]

Li Zhuang is a typical example of such an intellectual; according to the latest issue of Nanfeng chuang [Southern Window], in recent years, the “Beijing lawyers” with “background” whom he represents “have become an eye-catching ‘brand.’ On the one hand, they come forward to uphold the rule of law in a lot of sensitive cases, striving to promote judicial progress in China, while on the other hand, they are seen as residents of the capital, where they are inextricably linked to the highest judicial authorities, interfering with the judiciary by aggregating expert and media resources.” [2]

Li Zhuang’ being set up for a prison sentence by Bo Xilai was tragic not only for himself, but also his legal colleagues who were ordered to find him guilty. The case confirms in the most dramatic way the plight of China’s jurists and scholars pointed out by Feng Xiang. The greater tragedy for these people lies in the fact that many people have no understanding and less sympathy for what happened to them. In other words, while Bo Xilai was considered by liberal intellectuals to be morally the loser, in the eyes of more people lower lower down in society, he is likely to be morally the winner.

The implications of Li Zhuang case for China's future are very serious if this is so, because it means the emergence of a totally fascist China in the 21st century is indeed possible. The real danger in China's future does not in fact, come from any political ambitions of the likes of Bo Xilai, but from the lack of a sufficient number of intellectuals devoted to the rule of law and justice, who are as resolved as he is to take action to win popular support. [3] 

China does have a number of intellectuals and jurists who are committed to principle and to justice. Xu Zhiyong, mentioned in the Southern Window commentary, is representative of a group of public interest lawyers who threw themselves whole-heartedly into safeguarding the rights of vulnerable groups, and who, low-key but persistent, offered legal services to the most vulnerable groups. There are as well brave souls like Ai Weiwei who make high-profile challenges to the authorities of injustice and at the risk of being “disappeared” “pick fights” with the public security organs. However, having seen Ma’s Hooves produced by Ai Weiwei, I can only sincerely admire his character and courage, but likewise can only worry how, in the face of such a powerful and irrational authoritarian regime, such heroic “hopeless battles” can mobilise countervailing power against it?

Not long ago I read a report by Fan Yafeng, whome the authorities recently removed from his public employment [as a research fellow of the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Science], and found a representative free intellectual of equally firm resolve, as well as ideological influence. Fan argues that China’s “society has entered a stage of collision between the biggest tectonic plate (Christian Family Church) and the party-state”, “if the family church plate can not be controlled by the party-state, it can be said without exagger­ation that it will amount to a breakthrough in China’s democratic transition, which will have a great impact on the whole pattern of Chinese society and the world.”[4]

The Li Zhuang case shows that the game of institutions determining China’s future is being played at different levels. The likes of Bo Xilai use the power resources they control, to set about building an “equitable society” in which there is no rule of law.  more intellectuals and jurists with true faith in the rule of law may win a truly bright future for China only in throwing their lot in with society and resorting to action. [5]

* 梁京:李庄案的深层意义

 [1] “Feng Xiang: Chang hong da hei zheshe chude zhiye lunli kunjing” [The plight of the professional ethics reflected by singing red and hitting black], Gongshi wang, 2 December 2009 [: “冯象:唱红打黑折射出的职业伦理困境”, 共识网, ,2009年12月 2日 (here).].

[2] Tian Lei, “Li Zhuang an de shenceng jiazhi” [the deeper value of the Li Zhuang Case], Nan fengchuang, 17 January 2010 [田磊: “李庄案的深层价值”, 南风窗,2010年1月 17日 (here).].

[3] He Weifang, “Lüshi bei nan ri, guomin zaoyang shi—da ‘xingzhe’ jun wen” [When lawyers are oppressed, the people suffer - reply to ‘Walker’s’ question], He Weifang de bo laodao, 5 January 2010 [贺卫方: “律师被难日 国民遭殃时——答“行者”君问”, 贺卫方的博唠阁,2010年1月 5日 (here).].

[4] Fan Yafeng, “Fazhi yu gongmin shehui—dang yu shehui de hudong (shang)” [Rule of law and civil society—Intereaction between party and society], Gongshi wang, 17 January 2010 [范亚峰: “法治与公民社会——党国与社会的互动(上)”, 共识网,2010年1月 17日 (here).].

[5] Chen Lei, “Li Zhuang an youyin shi Zhao Changqing chenggong bianhu shajihaihou” [Li Zhuang case prompted by Zhao Changqing’s successful defence, killing chicken to scare monkeys], Boxun, 10 January 2010 [陈磊: “李庄案诱因是赵长青成功辩护后杀鸡骇猴”, 博讯,2010年1月 10日 (here).]. 

January 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Government continues to stonewall on Gao Zhisheng's fate

Asked about Gao Zhisheng's whereabouts at a recent press conference, the Foreign Ministry spokesman could offer nothing better than vague nothings: "The relevant judicial authorities have decided this case, and we should say this person, according to Chinese law, is where he should be." This is not quite the same as saying he is alive and in custody. Note how he can't even bring himself to say Gao's name - shades of Bill Clinton and "that woman".

January 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second statement of Liu Xiaobo

I just posted here a statement from Liu Xiaobo entitled "My Self-Defense." Here's another one purporting to be from him. It's from the Radio Free Asia web site and is entitled, "Final Statement that Liu Xiaobo Was Not Permitted to Read at His Trial."

(RFA授权首发)刘晓波一审时不被允许在庭上读出的最后陈述

2010-01-20

我没有敌人——我的最后陈述  刘晓波(2009年12月23日)在我已过半百的人生道路上,1989年6月是我生命的重大转折时刻。那之前,我是文革后恢复高考的第一届大学生(七七级),从学士到硕士再到博士,我的读书生涯是一帆风顺,毕业后留在北京师范大学任教。在讲台上,我是一名颇受学生欢迎的教师。同时,我又是一名公共知识分子,在上世纪八十年代发表过引起轰动的文章与著作,经常受邀去各地演讲,还应欧美国家之邀出国做访问学者。我给自己提出的要求是:无论做人还是为文,都要活得诚实、负责、有尊严。那之后,因从美国回来参加八九运动,我被以“反革命宣传煽动罪”投入监狱,也失去了我酷爱的讲台,再也不能在国内发表文章和演讲。仅仅因为发表不同政见和参加和平民主运动,一名教师就失去了讲台,一个作家就失去了发表的权利,一位公共知识人就失去公开演讲的机会,这,无论之于我个人还是之于改革开放已经三十年的中国,都是一种悲哀。

想起来,六•四后我最富有戏剧性的经历,居然都与法庭相关;我两次面对公众讲话的机会都是北京市中级法院的开庭提供的,一次是1991年1月,一次是现在。虽然两次被指控的罪名不同,但其实质基本相同,皆是因言获罪。 

二十年过去了,六•四冤魂还未瞑目,被六•四情结引向持不同政见者之路的我,在1991年走出秦城监狱之后,就失去了在自己的祖国公开发言的权利,而只能通过境外媒体发言,并因此而被长年监控,被监视居住(1995年5月-1996年1月),被劳动教养(1996年10月-1999年10月),现在又再次被政权的敌人意识推上了被告席,但我仍然要对这个剥夺我自由的政权说,我监守着二十年前我在《六•二绝食宣言》中所表达的信念——我没有敌人,也没有仇恨。所有监控过我,捉捕过我、审讯过我的警察,起诉过我的检察官,判决过我的法官,都不是我的敌人。虽然我无法接受你们的监控、逮捕、起诉和判决,但我尊重你的职业与人格,包括现在代表控方起诉我的张荣革和潘雪晴两位检察官。在12月3日两位对我的询问中,我能感到你们的尊重和诚意。 

因为,仇恨会腐蚀一个人的智慧和良知,敌人意识将毒化一个民族的精神,煽动起你死我活的残酷斗争,毁掉一个社会的宽容和人性,阻碍一个国家走向自由民主的进程。所以,我希望自己能够超越个人的遭遇来看待国家的发展和社会的变化,以最大的善意对待政权的敌意,以爱化解恨。 

众所周知,是改革开放带来了国家的发展和社会的变化。在我看来,改革开放始于放弃毛时代的“以阶级斗争为纲”的执政方针。转而致力于经济发展和社会和谐。放弃“斗争哲学”的过程也是逐步淡化敌人意识、消除仇恨心理的过程,是一个挤掉浸入人性之中的“狼奶”的过程。正是这一进程,为改革开放提供了一个宽松的国内外环境,为恢复人与人之间的互爱,为不同利益不同价值的和平共处提供了柔软的人性土壤,从而为国人的创造力之迸发和爱心之恢复提供了符合人性的激励。可以说,对外放弃“反帝反修”,对内放弃“阶级斗争”,是中国的改革开放得以持续至今的基本前提。经济走向市场,文化趋于多元,秩序逐渐法治,皆受益于“敌人意识”的淡化。即使在进步最为缓慢的政治领域,敌人意识的淡化也让政权对社会的多元化有了日益扩大的包容性,对不同政见者的迫害之力度也大幅度下降,对八九运动的定性也由“动暴乱”改为“政治风波”。敌人意识的淡化让政权逐步接受了人权的普世性,1998年,中国政府向世界做出签署联合国的两大国际人权公约的承诺,标志着中国对普世人权标准的承认;2004年,全国人大修宪首次把“国家尊重和保障人权”写进了宪法,标志着人权已经成为中国法治的根本原则之一。与此同时,现政权又提出“以人为本”、“创建和谐社会”,标志着中共执政理念的进步。 

这些宏观方面的进步,也能从我被捕以来的亲身经历中感受到。 

尽管我坚持认为自己无罪,对我的指控是违宪的,但在我失去自由的一年多时间里,先后经历了两个关押地点、四位预审警官、三位检察官、二位法官,他们的办案,没有不尊重,没有超时,没有逼供。他们的态度平和、理性,且时时流露出善意。6月23日,我被从监视居住处转到北京市公安局第一看守所,,简称“北看”。在北看的半年时间里,我看到了监管上的进步。 

1996年,我曾在老北看(半步桥)呆过,与十几年前半步桥时的北看相比,现在的北看,在硬件设施和软件管理上都有了极大的改善。特别是北看首创的人性化管理,在尊重在押人员的权利和人格的基础上,将柔性化的管理落实到管教们的一言一行中,体现在“温馨广播”、“悔悟”杂志、饭前音乐、起床睡觉的音乐中,这种管理,让在押人员感到了尊严与温暖,激发了他们维持监室秩序和反对牢头狱霸的自觉性,不但为在押人员提供了人性化的生活环境,也极大地改善了在押人员的诉讼环境和心态,我与主管我所在监室的刘峥管教有着近距离的接触,他对在押人员的尊重和关心,体现在管理的每个细节中,渗透到他的一言一行中,让人感到温暖。结识这位真诚、正直、负责、善心的刘管教,也可以算作我在北看的幸运吧。 

政治基于这样的信念和亲历,我坚信中国的政治进步不会停止,我对未来自由中国的降临充满乐观的期待,因为任何力量也无法阻拦心向自由的人性欲求,中国终将变成人权至上的法治国。我也期待这样的进步能体现在此案的审理中,期待合议庭的公正裁决——经得起历史检验的裁决。 

如果让我说出这二十年来最幸运的经历,那就是得到了我的妻子刘霞的无私的爱。今天,我妻子无法到庭旁听,但我还是要对你说,亲爱的,我坚信你对我的爱将一如既往。这么多年来,在我的无自由的生活中,我们的爱饱含着外在环境所强加的苦涩,但回味起来依然无穷。我在有形的监狱中服刑,你在无形的心狱中等待,你的爱,就是超越高墙、穿透铁窗的阳光,扶摸我的每寸皮肤,温暖我的每个细胞,让我始终保有内心的平和、坦荡与明亮,让狱中的每分钟都充满意义。而我对你的爱,充满了负疚和歉意,有时沉重得让我脚步蹒跚。我是荒野中的顽石,任由狂风暴雨的抽打,冷得让人不敢触碰。但我的爱是坚硬的、锋利的,可以穿透任何阻碍。即使我被碾成粉末,我也会用灰烬拥抱你。 

亲爱的,有你的爱,我就会坦然面对即将到来的审判,无悔于自己的选择,乐观地期待着明天。我期待我的国家是一片可以自由表达的土地,在这里,每一位国民的发言都会得到同等的善待;在这里,不同的价值、思想、信仰、政见……既相互竞争又和平共处;在这里,多数的意见和少数的仪意见都会得到平等的保障,特别是那些不同于当权者的政见将得到充分的尊重和保护;在这里,所有的政见都将摊在阳光下接受民众的选择,每个国民都能毫无恐惧地发表政见,决不会因发表不同政见而遭受政治迫害;我期待,我将是中国绵绵不绝的文字狱的最后一个受害者,从此之后不再有人因言获罪。 

表达自由,人权之基,人性之本,真理之母。封杀言论自由,践踏人权,窒息人性,压抑真理。 

为饯行宪法赋予的言论自由之权利,当尽到一个中国公民的社会责任,我的所作所为无罪,即便为此被指控,也无怨言。 

谢谢各位! 

刘晓波(2009年12月23日)

January 22, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Liu Xiaobo: "My self-defense"

I last blogged about Liu Xiaobo here, providing a text of the verdict against him. Here is a statement that purports to be from him entitled "My Defense". It addresses the charges against him. In the next post I provide another statement that has just appeared.

我的自辩

刘晓波

(2009年12月23日)

    《起诉书》(京一分检刑诉[2009]247号)列举了六篇文章和《零八宪章》,并总中引述了三百三十多字据此指控我触犯了《刑法》第105条第2款之规定,犯有“煽动颠覆国家政权罪”,应当追究刑事责任。

    对《起诉书》所列举事实,除了说我“在征集了三百余人的签名后”的事实陈述不准确之外,对其他的事实,我没有异议。那六篇文章是我写的,我参与了《零八宪章》,但我征集的签名只有70人左右,而不是三百多人,其他人的签名不是我征集的。至于据此指控我犯罪,我无法接受。在我失去自由的一年多时间里,面对预审警官、检察官和法官的询问,我一直坚持自己无罪。现在,我将从中国宪法中的有关规定、联合国的国际人权公约、我的政治改革主张、历史潮流等多方面为自己进行无罪辩护。

    一、改革开放带来的重要成果之一,就是国人的人权意识的日益觉醒,民间维权的此起彼伏,推动中国政府在人权观念上的进步。2004年全国人大修宪,把“国家尊重和保障人权”写进了宪法,遂使人权保障成为依法治国的宪法原则。这些国家必须尊重和保障的人权,就是宪法第35条规定的诸项公民权利,言论自由便是基本人权之一。我的言论所表达的不同政见,是一个中国公民在行使宪法所赋予的言论自由权利,非但不能受到政府的限制和任意剥夺,反而必须得到国家的尊重和法律的保护。所以,起诉书对我的指控,侵犯了我作为中国公民的基本人权,违反了中国的根本大法,是典型的因言治罪,是古老的文字狱在当代中国的延续,理应受到道义的谴责和违宪追究。《刑法》第105条第二款也有违宪之嫌,应该提请全国人大对其进行合宪性审查。

    二、《起诉书》根据所引的几段话就指控我“以造谣、诽谤等方式煽动颠覆国家政权,推翻社会主义制度”这是欲加之罪。因为“造谣”是捏造、编造虚假信息,中伤他人。“诽谤”是无中生有地诋毁他人的信誉与人格。二者涉及的都是事实的真假,涉及他人的名誉与利益。而我的言论皆为批评性的评论,是思想观点的表达,是价值判断而非事实判断,也没有对任何人造成伤害。所以,我的言论与造谣、诽谤风马牛不相及。换言之,批评不是造谣,反对更不是诽谤。

    三、《起诉书》根据《零八宪章》的几段言论指控我诬蔑执政党,“试图煽动颠覆现政权”。这指控有断章取义之嫌,它完全无视《零八宪章》的整体表述,无视我所有的文章所表述的一贯观点。

    首先,《零八宪章》指出的“人权灾难”都是发生在当代中国的事实,“反右”错划了五十多万右派,“大跃进”造成了上千万人的非自然死亡,“文革”造成国家的浩劫。“六·四”是血案,许多人死了,许多人被投入监狱。这些事实都是举世公认的“人权灾难”,确实为中国的发展带来危机,“束缚了中华民族的自身发展,制约了人类文明的进步。”至于取消一党垄断执政特权,不过是要求执政党进行还政于民的改革,最终建立“民有、民治、民享”的自由国家。

    其次,《零八宪章》所申明的价值和所提出的政改主张,其长远目标是建成自由民主的联邦共和国,其改革措施是十九条,其改革方式是渐进的和平的方式。这是有感于现行的跛足改革的种种弊端,要求执政党变跛足为双足,即政治与经济同步并进的均衡改革。也就是从民间的角度推动官方尽快启动还政于民的改革,用自下而上的民间压力敦促政府进行自上而下的政治变革,从而形成官民互动的良性合作,以尽早实现国人的百年宪政之梦想。

    再次,从1989年到2009年的二十年里,我所表达的中国政治改革的观点,一直是渐进、和平、有序、可控。我也一贯反对一步到位的激进改革,更反对暴力革命。这种渐进式改革主张,在我的《通过改变社会来改变政权》一文中有着明确的表述:通过致力于民间权利意识的觉醒、民间维权的扩张、民间自主性的上升、民间社会的发展,形成自下而上的压力,以推动自上而下的官方改革。事实上,中国三十年的改革实践证明,每一次具有制度创新性质的改革措施的出台和实施,其最根本的动力皆来自民间的自发改革,民间改革的认同性和影响逐渐扩大,迫使官方接受民间的创新尝试,从而变成自上而下的改革决策。

    总之,渐进、和平、有序、可控,自下而上与自上而下的互动,是我关于中国政治改革的关键词。因为这种方式代价最小,效果最大。我知道政治变革的基本常识,有序、可控的社会变革必定优于无序、失控的变革。坏政府治下的秩序也优于无政府的天下大乱。所以,我反对独裁化或垄断化的执政方式,并不是“煽动颠覆现政权”。换言之,反对并不等于颠覆。

    四、中国有“满招损、谦受益”的古训,西谚有“狂妄必遭天谴”的箴言。我知道自己的局限,所以,我也知道我的公开言论不可能十全十美或完全正确。特别是我的时评类文章,不严谨的论证,情绪化的宣泄,错误的表述,以偏盖全的结论……在所难免。但是,这些有局限性的言论,与犯罪毫无关系,不能作为治罪的依据。因为,言论自由之权利,不仅包括发表正确观点的权利,也包括发表错误言论的权利。正确的言论和多数的意见需要保护;不正确的言论和少数的意见,同样需要权利的保护。正所谓:我可以不赞成或反对你的观点,但我坚决捍卫你公开表达不同观点的权利,哪怕你所表达的观点是错误的,这,才是言论自由的精义。对此,中国古代传统中也有过经典的概括。我把这种概括称为二十四字箴言:知无不言,言无不尽;言者无罪,闻者足戒;有则改之,无则加勉。正因为这二十四字箴言道出了言论自由的要义,才能让每一代国人耳熟能详,流传至今。我认为,其中“言者无罪,闻者足戒”,完全可以作为当代国人对待批评意见的座右铭,更应该成为当权者对待不同政见的警示。

    五、我无罪,因为对我的指控有违国际社会公认的人权准则。早在1948年,中国作为联合国的常任理事国就参与起草了《世界人权宣言》;五十年后的1998年,中国政府又向国际社会作出了签署联合国制定的两大国际人权公约的庄严承诺。其中《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》把言论自由列为最基本的普世人权,要求各国政府必须加以尊重和保障。中国作为联合国常任理事国,也作为联合国人权理事会的成员,有义务遵守联合国制定的人权公约,有责任饯行自己的承诺,也应该模范地执行联合国发布的人权保障条款。惟其如此,中国政府才能切实保障本国国民的人权,为推动国际人权事业做出自己的贡献,从而显示出一个大国的文明风范。

    遗憾的是,中国政府并没有完全履行自己的义务和兑现自己的承诺,并没有把纸上的保证落实为现实的行动,有宪法而无宪政,有承诺而无兑现,仍然是中国政府在应对国际社会的批评时的常态。现在对我的指控就是最新的例证。显然,这样的因言治罪,与中国作为常任理事国和人权理事会的成员的身份相悖,有损于中国的政治形象和国家利益,无法在政治上取信于文明世界。

    六、无论在中国还是在世界,无论是在古代还是现当代,因言治罪的文字狱都是反人道反人权的行为,有悖于大势所趋、人心所向的时代潮流。回顾中国历史,即使在家天下的帝制时代,从秦到清,文字狱的盛行,历来都是一个政权的执政污点,也是中华民族的耻辱。秦始皇有统一中国之功,但其“焚书坑儒”之暴政却遗臭万年。汉武帝雄才大略,但其阉割太史公司马迁之举则倍受病诟。清朝有“康乾盛世”,但其频繁的文字狱也只能留下骂名。相反,汉文帝在二千多年前就废除过因言治罪的“诬谤罪”,由此赢得了开朝仁君的美名和历代推崇的“文景之治”。

    进入现代中国,中国共产党之所以由弱而强,最终战胜国民党,在根本上源自其“反独裁争自由”的道义力量。1949年前,中共的《新华日报》和《解放日报》经常发文抨击蒋家政权对言论自由的压制,为因言获罪的有识之士大声疾呼。毛泽东等中共领袖也多次论及言论自由及基本人权。但1949年后,从反右到文革,林昭被枪毙,张志新被割喉,言论自由在毛时代消失了,国家陷于万马齐喑的死寂。改革以来,执政党拨乱反正,对不同政见的容忍度有大幅度提高,社会的言论空间不断扩大,文字狱大幅度减少,但因言治罪的传统并没有完全灭绝。从四·五到六·四,从民主墙到零八宪章,因言治罪的案例时有发生。我此次获罪,不过是最近的文字狱而已。

    二十一世纪的今天,言论自由早已成为多数国人的共识,文字狱却是千夫所指。从客观效果上看,防民之口甚于防川,监狱的高墙关不住自由的表达。一个政权不可能靠压抑不同政见来建立合法性,也不可能靠文字狱来达成长治久安。因为,笔杆子的问题只能诉诸笔杆子来解决,一旦动用枪杆子解决笔杆子的问题,只能造成人权灾难。只有从制度上根绝文字狱,宪法所规定的言论自由权利才能落实到每一位国民身上;只有当国民的言论自由权利得到制度化的现实保障,文字狱才会在中国大地上灭绝。

    因言治罪,不符合中国宪法所确立的人权原则,违反了联合国发布的国际人权公约,有悖于普世道义与历史潮流。我为自己所做的无罪辩护,希望能够得到法庭的采纳,从而让此案的裁决在中国法治史上具有开先河的意义,经得起中国宪法之人权条款与国际人权公约的审查,也经得起道义的追问和历史的检验。

    谢谢大家!

January 22, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jerome Cohen lecture series at Yale Law School

Prof. Jerome Cohen will deliver a series of lectures at Yale Law School as part of the celebrations of his 80th birthday (coming up this July). The lectures will be on Feb. 2nd, 9th, and 23rd. Here's the announcement.

January 21, 2010 in News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does China need bright-line rules? A response from Professor Raban

On January 8th I posted some comments on a very interesting article by Prof. Ofer Raban of the University of Oregon School of Law. I thought he might like to respond and invited him to do so; here are his remarks, for which I thank him. I have a response to this, which I will post in due course.

I was graciously invited to comment on Professor Clarke entry, so here goes. 

First, my paper not only claims that vague legal standards may produce more certainty and predictability than bright-line rules, but also that in many areas of the law they are bound to do so (and the article goes to explain why).

Although the proper application of vague standards is, by definition, less predictable than the proper application of bright-line rules, the article argues that the predictability that actually matters – which pertains to the ability of real-life actors to predict the consequences of their actions – may still be enhanced by the use of vague standards rather than by clear rules.  The full explanation can be found in the paper (available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1419683).

Now the paper recognizes, as it must, that this proposition depends on the proper application of these standards.  In other words, if lawyers and judges habitually misapplied the concept of “negligence” to perfectly prudent and cautious actions, predictability may certainly suffer.  But that is true, of course, about the predictability of bright-line rules as well.  

This short clarification places Professor Clarke’s claims in the context of the paper’s thesis.  Professor Clarke does not dispute the thesis (which I was happy to learn…); but he does say that adopting vague legal standards in China would not produce more predictability even in those areas where I claim it would, because Chinese courts, unlike, say, American courts, are more likely to misapply (indeed, not to apply at all) vague standards.  And he thinks that my paper pays insufficient attention to this important caveat (that in many countries courts are likely to misapply vague legal standards). 

That claim, however, would hold true only if Chinese courts not only misapplied (or refused to apply altogether) vague standards, but also if they properly applied bright-line rules.  Otherwise there is no basis for the claim that bright-line rules would do better than standards.  Now why would that be the case???

The reluctance of Chinese courts to protect certain individual rights, or their willingness to subject their judgments to the Party’s will, or their rampant corruption, stand neither here nor there on this matter.  If a court refuses to apply a standard of “fairness” because this would result in a politically unpalatable ruling, that very court, it seems to me, would similarly refuse to apply a perfectly clear rule that produces the same result.  And vice-versa: just as Chinese courts may be willing to properly apply bright-line rules that lead to their desired results, they should be similarly willing to apply such vague standards (as in fact they do when convicting dissidents under exceedingly vague and indeterminate definitions of crimes.)

So, to repeat: if Chinese courts are more likely to misapply vague legal standards, they are also more likely to misapply bright-line rules.  (Indeed our own law reports contain innumerable examples of how that is done.)  Either way, the thesis on the predictability of vague legal standards in comparison to bright-line rules remains untouched.

Ofer Raban
University of Oregon School of Law

January 20, 2010 in Commentary | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Huang Songyou convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment

When I last posted about Huang Songyou earlier this month, I quoted a report in the Chinese press saying he was expected to be put on trial in March. Surprise! He was put on trial a short while ago, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Here are reports in English (here) and in Chinese (here and here)

January 20, 2010 in News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Top ten constitutional events: more details

In response to a request from my friend Tom Ginsburg of the Comparative Constitutions blog, here's a list and a few sentences about the top ten events that I blogged about yesterday (at least, in the view of the Procuratorial Daily):

1. The person in Chengdu who committed suicide by self-immolation to protest the forcible tearing-down of her home. This crystallized a lot of discontent of land requisitioning for redevelopment. I won't say "takings of property" because in many cases it's not clear how exactly we should characterize the interests that are being taken. In this case, for example, it may be that the structure in question was built without proper permission, and that knocking it down was no more than would have happened in any jurisdiction that enforces its urban planning laws. But as with the Deng Yujiao case, what actually happened is of less interest to a lot of people than the symbolic use to which an event can be put. The constitutional-type issues associated with this case are those of takings, proper compensation and procedure, etc., even though they may not actually have had much relevance to this particular case.

2. The Yunnan hide-and-seek case. A prisoner was beaten to death in jail; the police explained his head injuries by saying he had accidentally run into a wall while playing a Chinese version of hide-and-seek (it involves being blindfolded). When this explanation came out, it was appropriately ridiculed and popular pressure led to a second investigation. The constitutional-type issues are those of transparency, accountability, etc.

3. The Shanxi coal mine nationalization case. The Shanxi provincial government required privately operated mines to be taken over by state-owned firms. Ostensibly this was in response to bad practices in the privately operated mines. Maybe. Commentators have suggested that these problems could be dealt with through regulation. Again, maybe. The mine owners are fighting for compensation. The matter is still unsettled and politically very sensitive; hence its removal from the "top ten" list after publication.

4.The Shanghai "law enforcement by fishing" case. This case involved entrapment - in fact, outright framing - by Shanghai law enforcement authorities. In one example of what was apparently a pattern, a driver was flagged down by someone who appeared to be injured and wanted to be driven somewhere (I forget the exact details). The man offered money, but the driver didn't take it. A few minutes later, the car was surrounded by other cars with officials from the bureau in charge of overseeing taxis, who charged him with operating an illegal taxi service. He was forced to pay a fine of 10,000 yuan. Outraged at his treatment and unable to get justice, the driver ultimately cut off one little finger to show his innocence. That got attention, and a subsequent investigation brought the malpractice to light. The case is a bit reminiscent of the Beijing Traffic Police practice of maximizing fines that I blogged about in 2005 (here and here), but of course vastly more egregious.

5.The Hebei "political test-gate" affair. A young woman in Hebei applied for admission to a military college. Part of the process involves getting the local police station to stamp a form indicating that you don' have political problems. The local police refused to do this for her, stating that it was because her parents had been detained for 15 days in 2007 for getting involved in a fight. The police later changed their story to say it was because they had never received the proper documents. I'm not sure what this case is supposed to show, and the commentary in the article doesn't really make it clear. I don't think anyone is suggesting the political tests for people in the organs of state coercion should  be abolished.

6. The Chongqing student who faked his ethnicity. A top scorer in the university entrance exam from Chongqing was rejected (after initial admission) by Beijing University on the grounds that he wasn't really of minority nationality (for which he would have been given extra points). Thirty-one test-takers were found to have done the same thing, and fifteen officials involved in the fraud were disciplined. The constitutional significance lies in the questions this case raised about equal treatment, affirmative action, etc.

7.Cession to Macau of mainland territory. Here's the story that I find most amazing. China has carved out one square kilometer of Hengqin Island (contiguous to Macau) and leased it to Macau until 2049 for use as a campus of the University of Macau. The remarkable thing is that this territory will be under the legal jurisdiction of Macau; in other words, PRC law - the Criminal Law, the State Secrets Law, etc. - will not apply there any more than it applies in Macau. You would think that declaring PRC law inapplicable over any part of PRC territory would be a pretty big deal - the kind of thing reserved constitutionally for the National People's Congress. But no - this was authorized by the NPC's Standing Committee. I may blog more about this later; to me, it's one more piece of evidence of the essentially advisory nature of the Constitution and its insignificance as a legal document (unless "legal" is defined very broadly).

8.Crackdown by the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television on audio-visual web sites and web sites providing quick downloads of AV material (bit-torrent sites). The ostensible reason was to crack down on piracy and pornography. The issue seems to be that there was no individualized determination of violations. I haven't looked closely at this matter (and don't have time to do so right now), so don't take my word for it.

9. Jiangsu woman rejected for civil service post because she was an unwed mother. Because she had had a child out of wedlock, a woman failed to pass her test of political reliability and was not allowed to take a civil service post for which she otherwise qualified. She brought an administrative lawsuit against the local county Party organizational department that made the decision and against the local population/family planning bureau. Predictably, the court rejected the suit against the Party body because it's not a proper defendant in administrative litigation. It advised her to sue the government body in a different court. The commentary suggests that the decision to reject her was improper because it took into account moral views about her private life. It's not clear to me that this objection stands up legally, though. Rightly or wrongly, the political test takes into account lots of things that people have a lawful right to do in their private lives, and yet are considered inappropriate if in public office. Short of abolishing the political test, it's hard to argue that the testers can't impose their views about proper morals. Perhaps underlying the objections is something else: the idea that having a baby out of wedlock should not be considered evidence of bad morals.

10. Sichuan peasant deprived of villager status by village vote. A man in Sichuan was a factory worker but apparently had rural roots. In 1993, in line with policy, he gave up his factory job to his daughter and went back to his village. In 1998, he began receiving his pension (from the factory). In 2003, village land was requisitioned with compensation, and it came time to share out the spoils among the villagers. Saying, "Since when do villagers get pensions?" (which are reserved for urban workers), the other villagers voted in effect to deprive him of his villager status and therefore his entitlement to part of the compensation. He sued and won in the first instance and lost on appeal. After a protest by the procuracy, the provincial high court sent the case back for re-trial. It's now being heard by the Intermediate Court in Leshan; no result as yet. This is a case worth watching; it implicates very interesting issues.

January 17, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)