June 8, 2012
Corruption in China's financial press
For all those (including me) who have ever thought that loosening the bonds on China's financial press would, by improving the quality of information out there, go a long way toward improving China's corporate governance, this Caixin report (in English) makes sobering reading. What the financial press wants in many cases, it seems, is not information but good old baksheesh. They will shake down IPO companies for cash with the threat of publishing negative stories.
Just by coincidence, I heard the same complaint just a few days earlier from a businessman whose company had recently had an IPO. He said that China's financial press was all corrupt (黑). I asked him if that included Caixin, which has always had a good reputation. He said he wouldn't include them in the indictment.
June 7, 2012
Two PTO attache positions open in China
Mark Cohen at the China IPR blog announces that "[w]ith the impending departures of Nancy Kremers in Beijing and Conrad Wong in Guangzhou, two key PTO positions in China are now opening up."
Please go to his blog post for fuller information and links to the official job postings.
Human Rights Watch report on Urban Management (城管) forces
Human Rights Watch has a report out on the generally detested "urban management" (城管) forces, who manage to exhibit the violence of the police without the discipline.
Congressional-Executive Commission on China seeks interns for fall 2012
Here's the announcement:
FALL 2012 INTERNSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT
Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Deadline: July 1, 2012
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (www.cecc.gov) is offering paid internships to qualified undergraduates, graduate students, or recent graduates this coming fall in Washington, D.C. Interns must be U.S. citizens. The application deadline is July 1, 2012 for the Fall 2012 internship that runs from September to December 2012. Fall internships are part-time; interns are expected to work from 15 to 20 hours per week. See application instructions below.
CECC internships provide significant educational and professional experience for undergraduates, graduate students, or recent graduates with a background in Chinese politics, law, and society, and strong Chinese language skills.
Interns work closely with the Commission and its staff on the full array of issues concerning human rights, the rule of law, and governance in China (including criminal justice, democratic governance institutions, environmental problems, religious freedom, freedom of expression, ethnic minority rights, women's rights, etc.).
Interns perform important research support tasks (often in Chinese), attend seminars, meet Members of Congress and experts from the United States and abroad, and draft Commission analyses. Click here for CECC analysis of recent developments in the rule of law and human rights in China. Interns may also be trained to work with the Commission's Political Prisoner Database, which has been accessible by the public since its launch in November 2004 (click here to begin a search).
The CECC staff is committed to interns’ professional development, and holds regular roundtables for interns on important China-related issues.
Fall 2012 interns will be paid $10/hour. Those unable to apply for Fall 2012 internships may apply for the Spring (February-May) or Summer (June-August). Further details are available on the Commission's Web site at http://www.cecc.gov/pages/general/employ.php.
- Interns must be U.S. citizens.
- Interns should have completed at least some China-related coursework. It is also desirable that they have some background in one or more of the specific human rights and rule of law issues in the CECC legislative mandate.
- Interns should be able to read Chinese well enough to assist with research in newspapers, journals, and on Web sites. More advanced Chinese language capability would be a plus. The successful candidate for an internship often will have lived or studied in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.
- Although our interns are generally undergraduates, graduate students, or recent graduates, others are also welcome to apply.
Application Instructions for Fall 2012:
Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information for two references, to the CECC via e-mail to Judy Wright, Director of Administration at email@example.com by July 1, 2012. Applications must be received by our office no later than 11:59 P.M. Eastern Time on July 1. Please discuss in your cover letter how your professional goals, interests, and background relate to the Commission's legislative mandate regarding human rights and the rule of law in China. No phone calls please.
June 6, 2012
Profile of Pu Zhiqiang in Slate
Here's a nice profile of attorney Pu Zhiqiang in Slate.
June 5, 2012
Google has released a feature that allows mainland Chinese users to search for search terms words that will cause their conection to be cut off. The China Digital Times has translated 456 of them. It's like an arms race; netizens search for Zhou Yongkang (the head of the Central Political-Legal Committee and therefore the man in charge of the legal and security apparatus), so that's blocked; then they search for "Master Kang" (康师傅) (because the "kang" character is the same), the brand name of a type of instant noodles, so that's blocked; then they search for "instant noodles" (方便面), so now you can't even search for instant noodles on the Chinese internet. (Don't even get me started on why you can't search for "teletubbies".)
There's a word for this. And it's in the DSM.
June 4, 2012
I don't want to let June 4th pass unnoticed, but neither do I have time to write a blog post that would probably just repeat what others have said many times already. Let me then just link to a good post on the China Law and Policy blog that discusses The Fat Years, a recently-published translation of Chan Koonchung's (陈冠中) 盛世. The novel is (among other things) about forgetting and the complicity of the forgetters in state efforts to get them to forget.
In my little corner of the intellectual universe, where we discuss Chinese law, issues of values are often intertwined with issues of facts and interpretation. One often-voiced mantra is the idea that we mustn't impose our values on others. This idea has too many problems for me to dissect them all in a single post (who are "we"? how do we identify the dividing line between "us" and "others"? what counts as "imposition"?). What I want to do here is point out one particular problem, which is that figuring out the values held by the Other is a difficult project. The Other is rarely homogeneous, and the result is that usually the values of the elite Other get taken for the values of the whole Other, leading of course to profoundly conservative results. (This is why elites love to be able to label someone an outsider and then assert that he may not impose his values.)
The Constitution of Japan turned 65 last month, and so it's a good moment for reflection on this document. It is almost without peer in the length of time it has lasted without formal amendment. Those who want to change it, in particular Article 9 (which commits Japan to pacifism), argue that it was imposed by MacArthur in the post-WW2 occupation. But David Law's argument in the ConstitutionMaking.org blog make a lot of sense to me:
MacArthur definitely did *not* have permission from Washington to write a constitution for Japan, but instead saw and seized an opportunity after the Cabinet proposed a deeply conservative document that the Japanese public rejected, and he ended up proposing something with much stronger popular support than Japan's own government could muster. Its longevity should therefore come as little surprise: what democratic constitution can endure for over six decades unless it enjoys enduring popular support? Therein ought to lie a valuable historical lesson for those who argue that constitution-making in post-occupation settings (Iraq, Afghanistan?) is about cutting deals among elites, popular opinion be damned. The lesson is: actually, the people do matter. If that's too much to ask, then one at least hopes that scholars won't draw from Japan the wrong lessons about the viability of "imposed constitutionalism".
Imposing something that has no local support is, of course, a dead end. But we ought to be cautious about making or accepting assertions that something has no local support, or doesn't resonate with the alleged values of an alleged culture. And of course arguing over whether something was imposed is a good way of deflecting attention from what people ought to be arguing about, which is whether it's actually a good idea.