March 28, 2012
English translation of revised Criminal Procedure Law
Here's an English translation of the revised Criminal Procedure Law, courtesy of the Danish Institute for Human Rights.
I have posted twice before on the revisions, with links to Chinese and English texts of the old law, the revised law, and the resolution setting forth the revisions. Here are the links:
March 27, 2012
Gao Zhisheng reported alive
It is a sign of the absurd and cruel vendetta that the Chinese government has carried out against Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) that his being seen alive should be headline news. After all, he has been in the custody, acknowledged or not, of that same government more or less constantly since February 2009. He was last seen alive by family members in April 2010.
His wife now reports that his father father-in-law and brother were able to visit him in prison on March 24. His brother has confirmed the meeting. Here's the Radio Free Asia report.
[March 30 correction indicated above.]
March 26, 2012
Fordham conference on intellectual property in China
Fordham Law School in New York City will be hosting a conference on April 11th entitled "Understanding China's New Environment for Intellectual Property." Registration is free for academics and students. More details here.
March 25, 2012
What's the deal with Beijing taxis?
Anyone who spends much time in Beijing knows that in the last few years, it's been harder and harder to find a cab. The reason is much less hard to find: more Beijingers are able to afford cabs, and the rate, fixed by law, has not been changed since 2006. Yes, 2006! And this despite the fact that fuel costs have risen from 5.09 yuan/liter to 8.33 yuan/liter. Moreover, the rate for sitting still in traffic hasn't changed, either, even though taxis spend a lot more time sitting still in traffic now than they did in 2006. So: demand up, supply down.
The Beijing government has taken a few steps to fix the problem. In 2009, they allowed a 1-yuan fuel surcharge for rides of over some short distance (I forget how far - basically, the distance covered by the flag-drop fare), and in 2011 that went up to 2 yuan. Needless to say, this is a very crude way of compensating for higher fuel costs, since it is almost unrelated to distance driven. Still, it meant an extra 1 and later 2 yuan per trip for most trips, and was collected in a per-trip basis, thus operating as an incentive to drivers to get out there and drive.
This is, alas, exactly what the latest measure to cure Beijing's cab crisis does not do. The National Development and Reform Commission has announced that all cab drivers will be given a fuel subsidy of approximately 300 yuan per month. As far as I can tell from the news report, this will just be handed out to all taxi drivers regardless of how much they drive.
I'm happy to see taxi drivers earn more, but this subsidy, since it doesn't change incentives at the margin, will do nothing to get cab drivers to spend more time on the street picking up fares. Whatever economic calculations were driving their behavior before will not change. Just as before, taking your cab out to pick up passengers on any given day presents the cab driver with the prospects of earning X yuan and spending Y yuan. The fact that the NDRC cuts you a check for 300 yuan at the end of each month doesn't change that at all.
The real question is, why doesn't the government adopt the obvious solution of simply raising cab fares until increasing supply meets decreasing demand (technically, quantity supplied and quantity demanded respectively)? Why all this monkeying around with clumsy fuel surcharges and subsidies that won't change behavior? The only plausible answer I've heard proposed is that this is a way to keep official inflation figures down; if the inflation index measures cab fares, they will appear not to have changed in six years. I suppose it's also possible that it's a scheme by the auto industry lobby to get people to buy cars, since it's ever more dicey to rely on taxis to get around.
The one thing that to my mind really prevents New York from being a world-class city is its ridiculous taxi system that makes it often hard to get a cab; Beijing used to be terrific in this respect, and it's sad to see it going downhill.
CECC seeks professional staff
I have received the following announcement:
CECC Employment Announcement--Professional Staff Members
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China is a bipartisan commission created by Congress in 2000 to monitor and report on human rights and rule of law developments in China. The Commission consists of Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and senior officials from the Administration. The Commission holds hearings, issues an Annual Report, and maintains a database of political prisoners in China, among other activities. For more information on the Commission, see www.cecc.gov.
The Commission is seeking professional staff members to assist in monitoring and reporting on substantive issues, including worker rights, criminal justice, freedom of residence and movement, access to justice, Xinjiang, ethnic minority rights, freedom of religion, civil society, North Korean Refugees in China, and property in China. The professional staff member will assist in assessing China's compliance or noncompliance with international human rights standards and Chinese domestic law. Successful candidates should have substantive background and/or an interest in one or more of these issue areas. Successful candidates should also possess the necessary Chinese language, English writing, and communication skills to effectively research, analyze, and explain such developments to U.S. policymakers and the broader public.
- Monitoring and researching Chinese and English language sources (media, government, NGO) for developments relating to their issue area.
- Identifying and analyzing key developments and reporting their significance orally and in writing, including through drafting sections of the Commission's Annual Reports, short analysis pieces, public statements, and press releases.
- Researching political prisoner cases and creating and maintaining case records in the CECC Political Prisoner Database.
- Assisting in organizing CECC public hearings and roundtables.
- Staff member also may be asked to travel to U.S. cities, China or other foreign locations on official business.
- Candidates must be a U.S. citizen.
- Very strong demonstrated ability to speak, read, write, and perform research in Chinese (Mandarin) is required.
- The successful candidate will likely have worked or studied in mainland China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.
- Candidates will preferably have a law degree or a Ph.D. or M.A. in political science, history, business, economics, or other social sciences. B.A. candidates with very strong credentials will also be considered.
- Strong oral and written communication skills, and the interpersonal skills and enthusiasm to work under tight deadlines and as part of a team.
- Please submit a brief cover letter, resume, short writing sample (10 pages or less), and the names and contact information for two references to Judy Wright, CECC Director of Administration, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via FAX at 202-226-3804. PLEASE NO PHONE CALLS. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, April 10, 2012 by 11:59 PM, EST. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered.
- The Congressional-Executive Commission on China is an equal opportunity employer.
Shanghai mulls law to reward "heroic deeds"
Here's the scoop from the China Hearsay blog.