Sunday, January 29, 2012
There is a certain type of person who likes to criticize the arrogance of "the West" or "us" or "the U.S." in always lecturing China and being unwilling to consider what the lecturer might learn from China. (I've always found this line of argument annoying because it insists that when I open my mouth, I must be speaking for some larger collectivity instead of just myself, and then believes me adequately refuted if some weakness in the collectivity's case can be shown.) I see that at least in the realm of solitary confinement of prisoners, the United States, and in particular the Commonwealth of Virginia, has confounded these critics by going China one better.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Amsterdam Law School has ten (salaried) PhD positions open, and applicants interested in China with excellent legal and language skills are encouraged to apply. You would have the privilege of working with Benjamin van Rooij, author (among other things) of a terrific book on Chinese environmental law that combines unique fieldwork with theoretical sophistication.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Ultra-nationalist Peking University professor Kong Qingdong (孔庆东), who boasts of being a direct descendant of Confucius, stirred up a controversy the other day with televised insults to the people of Hong Kong - mocking their accent, calling them dogs (he later claimed he only meant some of them), and declaring that all Chinese had a duty to be able to speak Mandarin. (Here's a video of his remarks and the Hong Kong subway incident that prompted them.)
I want to look particularly at his claim that all Chinese have a duty to speak Mandarin. Here's what he said, in the original and in translation: "说普通话的人没有义务、没有必要掌握任何一种方言。中国人有义务说普通话。. . . 当你遇到一个人，他所操的方言跟你不一样的时候，怎么办？双方都应该说普通话。故意不说普通话是什么人？王八蛋！" ("People who speak Mandarin have no duty and no need to speak any other dialect. Chinese have a duty to speak Mandarin. . . . When you meet with someone and his dialect is different from yours, what should be done? Both parties should speak Mandarin. What kind of person would deliberately not speak Mandarin? A bastard!")
This is where Prof. Kong may get himself in trouble, and not just for his un-Confucian way of expressing himself, which would seem more suited to a Legalist book-burning. In the trial of Li QInghong (黎庆洪) just conducted in Guiyang, the presiding judge decided on the third day of proceedings to stop speaking in Mandarin and began instead to speak on in local Guiyang dialect, making it difficult for Li's lawyer to understand the proceedings. When Li's lawyer objected and said that the judge was required under relevant law to speak Mandarin, the judge said that it was his right to use Mandarin or Guiyang dialect as he pleased. But perhaps Prof. Kong will surprise me and denounce the presiding judge as a bastard.
Thanks for Flora Sapio for bringing this interesting aspect of the Li Qinghong case to my attention.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
Here's a fascinating article on the subject from the Danwei blog. Among other things, it discusses the case-cracking incentives faced by police. Non-political offenses are rarely the subject of central government attention; crimes like serial murder are generally left to local police, who get no points for solving crimes committed in someone else's jurisdiction, and may indeed have to pay the cost of feeding and housing the suspect until he is sent back (also at their expense) to the jurisdiction that wants him.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Fresh from its triumph over the dark forces of Hollywood in their attempt to topple the state by shaking the hand of a blind man, the people's democratic dictatorship has now set its sights, once again, on Ni Yulan, already crippled by earlier police beatings. Apparently she and her husband have been "picking quarrels" and "disturbing public order", both criminal offenses. The New York Times story is here. Apparently the leaders have not been reading books about how China is destined to take over the world. They seem extraordinarily unconfident and fearful.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Chinese prison authorities have apparently notified Gao Zhisheng's brother that he is being held in a prison in Xinjiang. Here's the report from China Aid Association (I added the link about the alleged probation violation):
China Aid Association
(Washington, D.C. – Jan. 1, 2012) For the first time since his most recent forced disappearance 20 months ago, the whereabouts of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng were confirmed on Sunday.
ChinaAid learned that Gao Zhisheng’s older brother, Gao Zhiyi, received written notification on Sunday of Gao’s incarceration in Shaya Prison in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in far western China. The notification was signed and dated on Dec. 19 by the prison.
Gao disappeared into police custody in April 2010, the most recent in a series of forced disappearances since his 2006 conviction on a subversion charge. On Dec. 16, just days before his five-year probation period was to have ended, the Chinese government announced that it was sending him to prison for three years for violating his probation. It was the first word that he was still alive, but no information of his whereabouts or condition was released.
Shaya (Xayar) Prison is located in Aksu Prefecture, about 1,130 kilometers (700 miles) southwest of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.
"Gao's internal exile reminds the world of how former Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov was cruelly treated in Siberia in the 1980s," said ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, a friend of Gao. “The Chinese government can use this remote jail to prevent concerned people from visiting Attorney Gao, but just like Sakharov, Gao's courageous voice can never be silenced by the four walls of his prison cell."
Gao Zhiyi is planning to visit Gao Zhisheng as soon as he gets a physical address of the prison.
The prison’s mailing address is : Shaya Prison, Shaya county, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Postal code: 842208
Prison phone number: +86-997-8402100.
Gao Zhiyi’s phone number: +86-151-9198-5726