Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

An interesting take on China's solar subsidies

Here's an interesting take on China's solar subsidies from Bronte Capital: whether they exist, their WTO legality, whether the Chinese manufacturers can survive without them, etc. These subsidies are now the subject of a US antidumping and countervailing duty investigation.

December 1, 2011 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The most dangerous man in China...

... is apparently blind activist and barefoot lawyer Chen Guangcheng, judging from the extraordinary level of security thrown up around his home to prevent him from having any communications with the outside world. None of this has any known legal justification, by the way. Here's a report from China Human Rights Defenders (Chinese here). Think of how much all this must cost!

Attempts to visit the lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚) in Shandong Province have often been thwarted by the constant, stifling presence of guards blockading Dongshigu Village, where Chen lives under illegal house arrest (see reports below). The intensive operation is fortified by surveillance cameras and monitoring points set up at four village entrances and around Chen’s home. As groups of Chinese activists continue their “Operation Free Chen Guangcheng” by making repeated visits to Dongshigu Village, CHRD has released an aerial photo that charts the locations of village entrances and monitoring posts while describing these in detail.

The village’s widest concrete road—at three meters across—runs along its eastern edge and intersects China National Highway 205, which connects the provinces of Hebei and Guangdong. A small bridge lies in the middle of this road, and after crossing the bridge and turning right, Chen’s home is the first one on the north side, and is surrounded at all times by seven or eight guards.

The highway entrance near Chen’s home is guarded by 20 individuals who work in two shifts, scrutinizing each vehicle and person entering the village. At another location are two small structures that function as the guards’ work stations, with a pair of vehicles parked nearby. Thugs use one of them in case they need to chase after visitors, and the other is stationed next to a small bridge. Seven to eight individuals, also working in two shifts, man these vehicles.

Another concrete road entrance faces a neighboring village, Yazi Village, to the southeast of Dongshigu, and is located about 600 meters down the highway. A monitoring point in this area is set up about 100 meters after crossing a bridge, and guards—close to 20 people divided into two groups—reportedly stay hidden behind a pile of firewood and are able to see anyone crossing over the bridge, which leads to a trail into Dongshigu. On one side of the trail is a row of bungalows where tobacco is grown, and guards keep three vicious dogs on the other side.

A third entrance—a drainage area beneath a highway—lies along the village’s southwest edge, and is a path so narrow and rugged that it can only be undertaken on foot. There are six or seven guards stationed at this entrance, which is also equipped with a monitoring camera. Northwest of the village, there is a fourth passage off a small bridge to neighboring Xishigu Village. There are two monitoring points, one at the entrance of Xishigu Village and another after crossing a bridge and turning to the left, with close 20 guards.

In sum, there are two surveillance points in front and behind Chen’s home, and six other points set up at various locations on the four narrow roads that enter Dongshigu Village. There are a total of six surveillance cameras in the village. Two mobile phone jammers are set up at the homes of Chen’s neighbors to the west and east.

Reportedly, almost 100 hired thugs keep Chen under surveillance, and all are recruited from outside the village. They are divided into two large squads and 12 smaller groups, and maintain radio communication with each other while working around the clock. And like many extensive operations, monitoring Chen and the entire village is also wealth-generating. Given two daily meals, each person pockets 100 RMB a day—far more lucrative pay than the average villager (even the village party secretary earns just 3,000 RMB in salary per year). The guards are led by Gao Xingjian (高兴见), who comes from a nearby village. Gao was appointed as head of the guards after fighting off past visitors on many occasions, and has supposedly amassed a good deal of wealth from filling that role.

October 19, 2011 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dalai Lama's statement on reincarnation and its significance

It might seem a bit odd to post about this on a Chinese law blog, but the matter concerns religious law and its interaction with secular law in a territory under the control of the government in Beijing, so why not? Just as important, I'm posting an explanation of what it's all about by Tibetologist Robbie Barnett of Columbia. Those who don't understand the finer points of Tibetan Buddhism - that is to say, most of us - are going to miss important aspects of this announcement if we don't read Professor Barnett's Cliff's Notes (which I post here with his permission). I doubt if this level of understanding is accessible to the layman anywhere else, so here it is.

Here is the Dalai Lama's statement

Here are Prof. Barnett's notes on this statement; below are the first three paragraphs:

On September 24 2011 The Dalai Lama issued a statement on “the issue of his reincarnation”. The full text is at http://dalailama.com/messages/tibet/reincarnation-statement. It was issued following a meeting of the leaders of the main schools or sects of Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala, Northern India.

The timing is in part a response to the series of announcements by the authorities in Beijing in recent years that only they can select the next Dalai Lama. This claim was formalized in a legal document known “Order No. 5” issued by the State Administration of Religious Affairs in August 2007 (see http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/6231524.html and http://www.savetibet.de/fileadmin/user_upload/content/berichte/Briefing_Papier_Reinkarnationsgesetz.pdf).

It also relates to the decision by the Dalai Lama this March, formalized on May 29th, to end the “Ganden Phodrang” system. That term had referred to the government led by the Dalai Lamas in Tibet since 1642 and in exile since 1959. Since May, it refers just to the private estate or office of the Dalai Lama. Technically the Dalai Lama is now just a religious figure, and his announcement relates to this new role, addressing the future continuity of his lineage if indeed it is decide that it is beneficial to continue it. But in practice his statement is much greater significance than that, because he remains the symbolic heart of Tibetan nationhood – a role noted in the exiles’ new constitution – and of far greater importance to Tibetan people, and therefore to Chinese policy-makers, than the government.

October 1, 2011 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lai Changxing returned to China

After 12 years of struggling to avoid deportation, Lai Changxing finally lost his last court battle and was deported to China. Whatever one might think about the case, it's rather remarkable that the judge found that “Mr. Lai has failed to establish that he will suffer irreparable harm if he were returned to China.” Say what? Of course, irreparable harm is not and cannot be the only consideration; the same could be said of the guiltiest criminal ever, to be tried under the fairest procedures ever. Here's Jerome Cohen's commentary.

July 23, 2011 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Judge Dee for free: van Gulik, The Chinese Maze Murders (e- book)

The University of Chicago Press is offering a free e-book version of The Chinese Maze Murders, one of the beloved Judge Dee series by Dutch sinologist Robert van Gulik. Here's the link.

July 1, 2011 in News - Miscellaneous, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WTO Appellate Body decision in favor of China over the US

On March 11, the WTO's Appellate Body (AB) issued a decision in a dispute between China and the US. As with most decisions, some things went one party's way and some things went the other party's way, but it's basically a win for China (WSJ report here). Certainly that's how it was perceived by USTR Ron Kirk, who said he was "deeply troubled" by the AB's report. "It appears to be a clear case of overreaching by the Appellate Body."

Two of the major issues were (1) whether state-owned enterprises should be counted as "public bodies" for purposes of Article 1 of the Agreement on Subsidies, and (2) whether it was permissible to impose duties under both the Antidumping Agreement and the Agreement on Subsidies for the same price advantage - that is, to double count, resulting in duties amounting to more than the extent of "unfair" competition.

On the first issue, the problem with the US approach was that it insisted that majority state ownership per se made an enterprise into a "public body", and that there was no need to look at any other facts. The AB rejected this per se rule, but left the door wide open to arguments that particular SOEs could be "public bodies".

On the second issue, the AB decision has been reported as saying that it’s a violation to impose both antidumping (AD) duties and countervailing (CV) (antisubsidy) duties at the same time. This is almost true, but not quite. As I read the AB decision, it’s saying that double-counting (i.e., imposing antidumping and countervailing duties that amount to more than the total unfair price advantage that is to be offset) is a violation. I think the AB decision still allows for simultaneous AD and CV duties provided they don’t present a double-counting problem, and (for reasons explained in the decision) it’s theoretically possible they wouldn’t.

I am not a trade law expert, but but the idea that the AB overreached or did something awful in finding against the US on this strikes me as absurd. The US position was not that there was no double counting; it was that double counting was quite OK because the relevant agreements didn’t specifically prohibit it. This argument, if raised by some other country to the disadvantage of the US and accepted at the WTO, would surely provoke hyperventilation in Congress. At least as far as it’s reflected in the AB report, the US made no policy-based arguments as to why its interpretation would be a good thing for the international trade regime; it just said, "Hey, the agreements don’t bar it, so we can do it." I don’t see how this argument can be defended with a straight face as anything other than protectionist in the most pejorative sense of the term. It is asking for relief for domestic industry that goes beyond any damage caused by “unfair” trade practices. (The WTO does allow this kind of relief in some cases, but there are special rules about it in the Agreement on Safeguards.) I might add that the US Court of International Trade, which is a trade law expert and can't be accused of anti-US bias, took the AB's position on the same issue in the same case in 2009 (the US government is currently appealing the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit). If there's overreaching being done, it's not by the AB.

The common theme running throughout the decision seems to be a rejection of per se approaches and an insistence on looking at the particular facts of any question.

March 12, 2011 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Revolution That Wasn't

That's the title of a good post over at ChinaGeeks on today's - hmm, let's say "events" since the whole point is that they can't really be called a protest or a demonstration - in Beijing. Have a look.

February 20, 2011 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Securities lawsuits in US courts against Chinese companies

A former student just passed along an interesting article on the problems US investors face in bringing actions under US securities laws against Chinese companies listed in US stock markets. I recommend it. I want to add a few points that aren't made in the article, though.

  • The defendant in these suits is not always a Chinese company. In the example given in the article, the defendant, LDK Solar Co., Ltd., is actually a Cayman Islands corporation. Of course, it is in substance a Chinese company: it was set up with the sole purpose of holding the equity in a Chinese firm and then listing its shares abroad. But it is organized under the corporate law of the Cayman Islands, and that at times will make a difference.
  • The defendant is not - or need not be - always a company. If there's fraud going on, there are fraudsters. The problems that apply in suing a company may not apply in suing a person, and of course vice versa. While a single person's wealth may not be enough to compensate defrauded investors, the prospect of a large adverse US judgment might be a deterrent to the many wealthy individuals in China who contemplate travel to, or property ownership in, the United States or any other jurisdiction that enforces US judgments. Thus, plaintiffs are not completely without leverage.
  • If the defendant company is organized under Chinese law, it almost certainly has a provision in its Articles of Association calling for all shareholder disputes with the company or its management to be settled through arbitration. In other words, shareholders have agreed by contract never to sue in court.
    • This provision is required by China's Securities Regulatory Commission in its Mandatory Provisions of Articles of Association of Companies Seeking Overseas Listing (到境外上市公司章程必备条款). [CORRECTION 20 Feb. 2011: The provision is required only in companies listing in Hong Kong; thanks to Joseph Wang for kindly pointing this out. It is allowed and I believe encouraged in companies listing elsewhere. The provision in fact appears in the Articles of at least some companies listed on US exchanges, and of course it would appear in the Articles of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong that also issued shares or ADRs elsewhere.] The Provisions were promulgated in 1994 and, amazingly, are still in effect; the provision on arbitration was, to the best of my knowledge, intended to favor shareholders because the general opinion of Chinese courts at that time, even among Chinese government officials, was low. I don't know if the CSRC realized it was purporting to shut shareholders out of foreign courts as well. In effect, the rule makes US-style securities class actions impossible. The strength of the US-style class action is not only that it aggregates a number of small claims not worth suing over on their own, but also that it makes settlement possible, because non-parties can (contrary to the usual rule of civil procedure) be bound by the judgment. That can't happen in arbitration.
    • "Wait," I hear you saying. "Are you kidding? Surely a company can't avoid the reach of federal securities law so easily!" And indeed, maybe not. I've often wondered what a US court would do if a Chinese defendant in a securities suit raised this provision as a defense. I tend to think it would find the provision void as against public policy. I once tried to verify this intuition when looking at an actual federal class action against a Chinese company organized under Chinese law but listed in the US. I went on Edgar and found the defendant's Articles of Association. I verified that they had the provision in question. I then looked at the briefs in the case and found the name of the lawyer and firm who handled the defense. And I emailed him to ask if he would be able to tell me whether this provision had been raised as a defense, and if not, why not. Never heard back. Coincidentally, shortly thereafter I had some friendly dealings with another partner in his firm. I asked that person to check with the lawyer in question to see if my email had been received and whether he felt comfortable answering it. Back came the answer: email received, but he'd rather not respond, even if only to say that he'd rather not respond. So I'll never know whether they declined to raise the arbitration provision as a matter of litigation strategy, or whether they just didn't notice it.
    • Although I haven't researched the question systematically, I don't recall ever hearing of the arbitration provision being raised as a defense when US-listed Chinese companies are sued, and no lawyer or SEC person I've talked to has ever heard of this being done, either. So I think it remains merely an interesting theoretical question.
  • Investors can't exactly say they weren't warned. I've looked in the "Risk Factors" section of a number of prospectuses of Chinese companies listing in the US, and my recollection is that they are typically pretty open about the possibility that the controlling shareholder may act against the interests of other shareholders or the company, and there's not a lot anyone will be able to do about it under anyone's law. The prospectus for the company mentioned in this article, LDK Solar, is no exception, warning investors as follows:

You will have limited ability to bring an action against us or against our directors and officers, or to enforce a judgment against us or them.
      We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands and conduct substantially all of our operations in China through our wholly owned subsidiary established in China. Most of our current directors and officers also reside outside the United States. Substantially all of our assets and the assets of those persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States, in the Cayman Islands or in China in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the applicable securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. For more information regarding the relevant laws of the Cayman Islands and China, see “Enforceability of Civil Liabilities” in this prospectus.

 But as we know, nobody ever reads the Risk Factors!

February 15, 2011 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hot spots of labor unrest in China

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White House still doesn't get Chinese names

OK, I understand. Not everyone can take the time to learn Chinese. And with some romanized Chinese names you can't tell which is the surname and which is the given name. Still, is there any excuse for the White House protocol people, who are professionals, not to know which is which when they are preparing the list of guests for the state dinner in honor of Hu Jintao? This is their job!

Here's the list as published by the White House. With the exception of the President, Mrs. Obama, and Hu Jintao, they are listed in what appears to be intended to be alphabetical order by surname. But the Chinese guests (who presumably supplied their names in Chinese order with the surname first) have been inserted in alphabetical order by given name, so (for example) Minister of Commerce CHEN Deming appears between William DALEY and Jamie DIMON. C'mon, people. This isn't rocket science.

The list:

THE PRESIDENT and MRS. OBAMA

HIS EXCELLENCY HU JINTAO

      The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Washington, D.C.
      Ms. Alice Albright

      Ms. Christiane Amanpour, ABC News, New York, NY
      Mr. James Rubin

      The Honorable David Axelrod, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
      Mrs. Susan Axelrod

      Mr. Jeffrey Bader, National Security Council
      Ms. Rohini Talalla

      The Honorable Elizabeth Bagley, Washington, D.C.
      Mr. Kevin Frawley

      Mr. Steven Ballmer, Microsoft, Redmond, WA
      Mrs. Connie Ballmer

      Ms. Bette Bao Lord, New York, NY
      The Honorable Winston Lord

      Mrs. Denise Bauer, Belvedere Tiburon, CA

      The Honorable Howard Berman, Representative from California
      Mrs. Janis Berman
   
      Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
      Dr. Jill Biden

      The Honorable Joseph Beau Biden, III, Attorney General of Delaware, Wilmington, DE
      Mrs. Hallie Biden

      His Excellency Zheng Bijian, Chairman, CIIDS

      His Excellency Dai Bingguo, State Councilor

      Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY
      Mrs. Laura Blankfein

      The Honorable Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President

      The Honorable Stephen Breyer, United States Supreme Court
      Dr. Johanna Breyer

      Mr. Greg Brown, Motorola, Schaumburg, IL
      Mrs. Anna-Louise Brown

      The Honorable Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski, McLean, VA
      Mrs. Emilie A. Brzezinski

      The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
      The Honorable Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs

      The Honorable James E. Carter, former President of the United States
      Mrs. Rosalynn Carter

      Mr. Jackie Chan, Beverly Hills, CA
      Mr. Phillip Button

      The Honorable Elaine Chao, Washington, D.C.
      Dr. James Chao

      His Excellency Wang Chao, Vice Minister for Commerce

      His Excellency Tung Chee Hwa, Vice Chairman, CPPCC, former Hong Kong Chief Executive

      Mr. John A. Chen, Chairman, Committee of 100, New York, NY
      Mrs. Sherrie Chen

      The Honorable Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ
      Mrs. Mary Pat Christie

      The Honorable Judy Chu, Representative from California
      Ms. Chiling Tong

      The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
      Mrs. Jean Chu

      The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State

      The Honorable William J. Clinton, former President of the United States

      The Honorable James E. Clyburn, Representative from South Carolina
      Mr. John Clyburn

      The Honorable Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, Chicago, IL
      Mrs. Maggie Daley

      The Honorable William Daley, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
      Ms. Bernadette Keller

      His Excellency Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce

      Mr. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York, NY
      Mrs. Judith Dimon

      The Honorable Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor
      Ms. Cathy Russell, Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden

      The Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
      Mrs. Karen Duncan

      Mr. James Fallows, The Atlantic, Washington, D.C.
      Mrs. Deborah Fallows

      Mr. Xie Feng, Director General, MFA

      Mr. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, Washington, D.C.
      Mrs. Ann Friedman

      The Honorable Michael B. Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs
      Ms. Nancy Goodman

      His Excellency Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology

      The Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense
      Mrs. Becky Gates

      The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
      Mrs. Carole Geithner

      Mr. Mark Gilbert, Boca Raton, FL
      Mrs. Nancy Gilbert

      The Honorable Chris Gregoire, Governor of Washington, Olympia, WA
      Ms. Courtney Gregoire

      His Excellency Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister for Finance

      His Excellency Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister for NDRC

      Mr. Herbie Hancock, Los Angeles, CA
      Mrs. GiGi Hancock

      The Honorable Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology

      The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

      The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Representative from Maryland, Democratic WHIP

      His Excellency Wang Huning, Director of the Policy Research Office of CCCPC

      The Honorable Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China
      Mrs. Mary Kaye Huntsman

      Mr. Robert Iger, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, CA
      Ms. Willow Bay

      Mr. David Ignatius, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.
      Dr. Eve Ignatius

      Mr. Jeff Immelt, General Electric, Fairfield, CT
      Mrs. Andrea Immelt

      The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

      His Excellency Li Jiaxiang, Vice Minister for Transportation

      His Excellency Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs

      His Excellency Ling Jihua, Director of the General Office of CCCPC

      Mr. Robert Kagan, McLean, VA
      Ms. Victoria Nuland

      Mr. Michael Kempner, East Rutherford, NJ
      Mrs. Jacqueline Kempner

      Mr. Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola, Atlanta, GA

      The Honorable John F. Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts
      Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry

      Mr. Robert King, UAW, Detroit, MI
      Ms. Julie Kushner

      The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative
      Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk

      The Honorable Henry Kissinger, New York, NY
      Mrs. Nancy Kissinger

      Mr. Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, Scarsdale, NY
      Ms. Sheryl WuDunn

      Ms. Ellen Kullman, DuPont, Wilmington, DE
      Mr. Michael Kullman

      Dr. Zhang Kunsheng, Director-General, Protocol Department

      Ms. Michelle Kwan, Torrance, CA

      Mr. Lang Lang, New York, NY
      Mrs. Zhou Xiulan

      The Honorable Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

      Ms. Maya Lin, New York, NY
      Mr. Daniel Wolf

      Ms. Limin Liu, Reno, NV
      Dr. Hugh Shapiro

      Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI
      Mrs. Paula Liveris

      The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce
      Mrs. Mona Locke

      The Honorable Christopher Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary
      Ms. Kathryn Thomson

      The Honorable Richard Lugar, Senator from Indiana
      Mrs. Charlene Lugar

      Mr. Yo Yo Ma, Burbank, CA
      Ms. Jill Hornor

      The Honorable Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol, Department of State

      Mr. W. James McNerney, The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL
      Mrs. Haity McNerney

      Mr. Evan Medeiros, Director for Asian Affairs, NSS

      His Excellency Jiang Mianheng, Vice Chairman, CAS

      Mr. Mel Monzack, Wilmington, DE
      Mrs. Ann Monzack

      Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

      Mrs. Wendi Deng Murdoch, New York, NY

      Mr. James Murren, Las Vegas, NV
      Mrs. Heather Murren

      The Honorable Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
      Ms. Virginia Moseley

      Mr. Paul Otellini, Intel, Santa Clara, CA
      Mrs. Sandy Otellini

      The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Representative from California, Democratic Leader
      Mr. Paul Pelosi

      His Excellency Zhang Ping, Minister of NDRC

      The Honorable David Plouffe, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor
      Ms. Olivia Morgan

      Mr. Tom Pritzker, Pritzker Organization, Chicago, IL
      Mrs. Margot Pritzker

      His Excellency Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council

      Ms. Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, CA
      The Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA

      Ms. Azita Raji, JP Morgan Securities, Inc., Belvedere, CA
      Mr. Gary Syman

      The Honorable Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting
      Ms. Ann Norris

      The Honorable Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, New York, NY
      Mr. Ian Cameron

      Mr. Robert Roche, Shanghai, CN

      Mr. Kenneth Roth, The Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C.
      Ms. Annie Sparrow

      The Honorable Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President
      Ms. Courtney Chapin

      Mr. David M. Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C.
      Mrs. Alice Rubenstein

      Mr. Kirk Rudy, Austin, TX
      Mrs. Amy Rudy

      The Honorable Brent Scowcroft, The Forum for International Policy, Washington, D.C.

      The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
      The Honorable Gary Sebelius

      The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady
      The Honorable Neil Cohen

      Mr. Robert Sherman, Boston, MA
      Ms. Kim S. Sawyer

      His Excellency Chen Shiju, Chief of the President’s Office

      The Honorable George Shultz, Stanford, CA
      Mrs. Charlotte Shultz

      Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Culver City, CA
      The Honorable Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

      The Honorable Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy & Director of the National Economic Council
      Ms. Allison Abner

      The Honorable Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State
      Ms. Sherburne B. Abbott

      Ms. Barbra Streisand, Malibu, CA
      Mr. James Brolin

      The Honorable Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement

      Mr. John Thornton, The Brookings Institution, HSBC North America, Palm Beach, FL
      Mrs. Margaret Thornton

      His Excellency Cui Tiankai, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

      Dr. Stanley Toy, Jr., Pasadena, CA
      Ms. Lana Toy

      Mr. Luis Ubinas, The Ford Foundation, New York, NY
      Dr. Deborah Tolman

      Mr. Jose Villarreal, Commissioner General, Shanghai Expo, San Antonio, TX
      Ms. Sara Villarreal

      Ms. Vera Wang, New York, NY
      Mr. Arthur Becker

      Mr. Steve Westly, Menlo Park, CA
      Ms. Anita Yu

      Ms. Anna Wintour, Vogue Magazine, New York, NY
      Mr. Shelby Bryan

      Ms. Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, IL
      Mr. Kelvin R. Westbrook

      Mr. B.D. Wong, New York, NY
      Mrs. Roberta Wong

      Mr. Charles Woo, Mega Toys, Los Angeles, CA
      Mrs. Ying Woo

      The Honorable David Wu, Representative from Oregon
      Ms. Anna Kopperud

      His Excellency Xie Xuren, Minister of Finance

      His Excellency Zhang Yesui, Chinese Ambassador to the United States
      Madam Chen Naiqing

      His Excellency Sun Yibiao, Vice Minister for Customs

January 19, 2011 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The "Blood-Stained Housing Map" (血房地图)

The Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report writes:

China’s property sector, with its forced evictions and sometimes bloody confrontations, has long been described as something akin to a war zone. Now a team of online volunteers, led by an anonymous Chinese blogger, has launched a map-based project that brings that simile into stark relief.

Called “the Blood-Stained Housing Map,” the project uses Google Maps to plot violent housing evictions and land grabs across the country. The result bears an eerie, and sobering, resemblance to the Guardian’s own Google Maps chart showing deaths recorded in the Wikileaks Iraq war logs.

For the full report, click here. There are two maps: a “revised” version edited by the founder that shows only verified cases and an “open” version that anyone can add to or edit.

November 2, 2010 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous, Research Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chinese rights supporters issue open letter in support of Liu Xiaobo

The following letter has been issued by the signatories in support of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. English and French versions follow the Chinese version.

关于刘晓波获得诺贝尔和平奖的声明

中国公民刘晓波获得2010年度诺贝尔和平奖,这一消息在国内和国际引起极大的反响,它是中国当代一个重大的历史事件,它也为中国和平地实现社会转型、向民主宪政迈进提供了新的契机。本着对历史负责、对中国的命运前途负责的精神,我们特发表声明如下。

一、诺贝尔和平奖委员会把本年度的奖项颁发给刘晓波,这一决定符合该奖项的宗旨和评审标准。在当代社会,和平与人权密不可分,对生命的剥夺与践踏不仅发生在战场上,也发生在一国之内的暴政与恶法实践中。国际舆论的普遍赞扬证明,将今年的和平奖授予中国人权运动的代表人物,是一个及时和正确的决定。

二、刘晓波是诺贝尔和平奖的恰当人选,他坚持以非暴力手段维护人权,以理性的态度抗议社会不公正;他以坚韧的态度争取实现民主宪政目标,而在身受迫害时摒弃仇恨心理,这一切使他无庸置疑地拥有获奖资格。刘晓波的理念和实践也为中国人在解决政治、社会冲突中的行为方式提供了典范。

三、刘晓波获奖后,各国政府、各地区、各组织领导人纷纷再次要求中国当局释放刘晓波,我们持相同的态度。我们同时呼吁,当局释放一切因为思想、宗教信仰、言论等原因而被关押的政治犯和良心犯。我们呼吁尽快启动各项程序,让刘晓波获得自由,并与夫人刘霞同行,亲自到奥斯陆领取诺贝尔和平奖。

四、在得知刘晓波获奖的消息后,各地一些公民怀着兴奋的心情以聚餐、开会、举标语、发传单等方式进行庆祝或研讨,这些行为是完全合法合理的。但警察对此类活动进行了严厉压制和干扰,一些公民被扣押、盘问、威胁、遣送原籍,甚至被拘留,一些公民被软禁在家,失去行动自由甚至同时被剥夺通讯权利,包括刘晓波先生的妻子刘霞。我们要求警方立即停止这种非法行为,立即释放被拘押公民。

五、我们呼吁,中国当局以理性和现实的态度对待刘晓波获奖一事,从国内外的热烈反应中体察、辨清世界潮流与人心所向;中国应融入普世价值以及人类文明的主流,树立积极而负责任的大国形象。我们相信,政府和领导人的任何改进与善意,都会得到人们的理解与支持,都将有效地推动中国社会向着和平方向发展。

六、我们呼吁,中国当局兑现有关政治体制改革的承诺。温家宝总理最近在一系列讲话一再表达了推动政改的强烈愿望,我们愿意参与到这一实践中。我们期待,在中华人民共和国现行宪法和中国认可的联合国宪章以及各种国际公约的框架之内,政府能够切实保障公民的各项权利,和平实现社会转型,把中国建设成一个名副其实的民主、法治国家。

                                           2010年10月14日

联署人(以签名时间为顺序,继续开放联署邮箱:freexiaoboliu@gmail.com):

徐友渔(北京,学者)

郝建  (北京,学者)

崔卫平(北京,学者)

贾葭  (北京,专栏作家)

何方  (北京,学者)

张祖桦 (北京,宪政学者)

戴晴  (北京,学者)

资中筠(北京,学者)

沙叶新(上海,回族剧作家)

张博树(北京,学者)

周舵  (北京,学者)

夏业良(北京,学者)

于浩成(北京,学者)

王力雄(北京,作家 )

唯色  ( 西藏,作家)

滕彪  (北京,学者)

莫之许(北京,自由撰稿人)

蒋亶文(上海,作家)

马亚莲(上海,人权捍卫者)

温克坚(杭州,自由撰稿人)

钱跃君(工学博士,德国《欧华导报》主编)

浦志强(北京,律师 被限制人身自由中)

程益中(北京,出版人)

梁文道(香港,媒体人)

李大同(北京,学者)

梁晓燕(北京,编辑)

许医农(北京,编辑)

傅国涌(杭州,学者)

丁东  (北京,学者)

艾晓明(广州,学者)

邢小群(北京,学者)

宋以敏(北京,学者)

王东成(北京,学者)

徐岱  (杭州,学者)

丘延亮 (台北,副研究员 中央研究院民族学研究所)

王康  (重庆,学者)

徐贲  (北京,学者)

邓晓芒(武汉,学者)

叶匡正(北京,诗人)

朱日坤(北京,独立电影人)

张闳  (上海,学者)

老村  (北京,作家)

周枫  (北京,学者)

蔡甘铨(香港,媒体人)

林盈志(台湾,编辑)

雷永生 (北京,学者)

杨富芳(北京,教师)

徐敬亚(海南,诗人)

王小妮(海南,诗人)

吕频  (北京,妇女权利工作者)

郑海天(北京,离休编辑)

程迺欣(北京,离休编辑)

岳建一(北京,学者)

郭于华(北京,学者)

姚大力(上海,学者)

杨伟中(台湾,媒体人)

周保松(香港,学者)

徐晓  (北京,编辑)

朱正琳(北京,学者)

郑也夫(北京,学者)

石涛  (北京,企业管理者)

朴抱一(上海,媒体人)

郑褚  (成都,媒体人)

花落去(北京,媒体人)

姚博  (北京,作家)

杜婷  (香港,媒体人)

何杨  (北京,独立纪录片制作人)

华泽  (北京,纪录片导演)

张辉  (北京,德先生研究所负责人)

野渡  (广州,作家)

游精佑(福建,工程师)

吴华英(福建,人权捍卫者)

苏雨桐(德国,媒体人)

杨海  (西安,民间学者)

黎雄兵(北京,律师)

倪玉兰(北京,维权律师)

刘巍  (北京,维权律师)

李和平(北京,律师)

金光鸿(北京,律师)

李金星(北京,律师)

唐吉田(北京,律师)

陆以诺(上海,公民 基督徒)

黄燕明 (贵州,人权捍卫者)

郑创添(广东,公民)

刘强本(北京,公民)

董继勤(北京,人权捍卫者)

周洪玉(福建,公民)

吴玉堂(福建,公民)

魏英 (福建,人权捍卫者)

卓友桂(福建,人权捍卫者)

林碧仙(福建,人权捍卫者)

李华  (北京,自由职业)

任嘉祺(北京,诗人)

张永攀(北京,由撰稿人)

王德邦(广西,人权捍卫者)

张居正(河南,人权捍卫者)

韩颖  (北京,人权捍卫者)

杨树枝(北京,人权捍卫者)

杨树萍(北京,人权捍卫者)

王炜  (山东,公民)

游豫平(福州,大学生)

王立红(哈尔滨,自由职业)

门延文(北京,市民)

王我  (北京,纪录片导演)

刘沙沙(北京,人权活动人士)

胡杰  (南京,纪录片导演)

王超  (北京,电影导演)

徐娟  (德国,媒体工作者)

唐晓渡(北京,评论家)

魏海田(内蒙古,新闻记者)

张真  (纽约,学者)

安替(北京,媒体人)

萨冲 (意大利, 工程师)

郭小林(北京 , 诗人)

王晓鲁(北京,媒体人)



On Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize

            The awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese citizen, has drawn strong reactions both inside and outside China.  This is a major event in modern Chinese history.  It offers the prospect of a significant new advance for Chinese society in its peaceful transition toward democracy and constitutional government.  In a spirit of  responsibility toward China’s history and the promise in its future, we the undersigned wish to make these points:

            1.   The decision of the Nobel Committee to award this year’s prize to Liu Xiaobo is in full conformity with the principles of the prize and the criteria for its bestowal.  In today’s world, peace is closely connected with human rights.  Deprivation and devastation of life happens not only on battlefields in wars between nations; it also happens within single nations when tyrannical governments employ violence and abuse law.  The praise that we have seen from around the world for the decision to award this year’s prize to a representative of China’s human rights movement shows what a wise and timely decision it was.

            2.   Liu Xiaobo is a splendid choice for the Nobel Peace Prize.  He has consistently advocated non-violence in his quest to protect human rights and has confronted social injustice by arguing from reason.  He has persevered in pursuing the goals of democracy and constitutional government and has set aside anger even toward those who persecute him.  These virtues put his qualifications for the prize beyond doubt, and his actions and convictions can, in addition, serve as models for others in how to resolve political and social conflict.

            3.  In the days since the announcement of his prize, leaders in many nations, regions, and major world organizations have called upon the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo.  We agree.  At the same time we call upon the authorities to release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who are in detention for reasons such as their speech, their political views, or their religious beliefs.  We ask that legal procedures aimed at freeing Liu Xiaobo be undertaken without delay, and that Liu and his wife be permitted to travel to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

            4.  Upon hearing the news of Liu Xiaobo’s prize, citizens at several locations in China gathered at restaurants to share their excitement over food and wine and to hold discussions, display banners, and distribute notices.  Normal and healthy as these activities were, they met with harassment and repression from police.  Some of the participants were interrogated, threatened, and escorted home; others were detained; still others, including Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, have been placed under house arrest and held incommunicado.  We call upon the police to cease these illegal actions forthwith and to immediately release the people who have been illegally detained.

            5.  We call upon the Chinese authorities to approach Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize with realism and reason.  They should take note of the responses to the prize inside and outside China and see in these responses the currents in world thinking as well as the underlying preferences of our fellow citizens.  China should join the mainstream of civilized humanity by embracing universal values.  Such is the only route to becoming a “great nation” that is capable of playing a positive and responsible role on the world stage.  We are convinced that any signs of improvement or goodwill from the government and its leaders will be met with understanding and support from the Chinese people and will be effective in moving Chinese society in a peaceful direction. 

6.  We call upon the Chinese authorities to make good on their oft-repeated promise to reform the political system.  In a recent series of speeches, Premier Wen Jiabao has intimated a strong desire to promote political reform.  We are ready to engage actively in such an effort.  We expect our government to uphold the constitution of The People’s Republic of China as well as the Charter of the United Nations and other international agreements to which it has subscribed.  This will require it to guarantee the rights of Chinese citizens as they work to bring about peaceful transition toward a society that will be, in fact and not just in name, a democracy and a nation of laws.


Communiqué sur l’attribution du Prix Nobel de la paix à Liu Xiaobo

Le citoyen chinois Liu Xiaobo a obtenu le prix Nobel de la paix 2010. Cette nouvelle a eu un impact extraordinaire tant en Chine qu’à l’étranger. C’est un événement historique pour la Chine contemporaine, une nouvelle occasion pour elle d’effectuer une transition pacifique vers un gouvernement constitutionnel. Dans un esprit de responsabilité devant l’histoire, et devant le destin futur de la Chine, nous publions le communiqué suivant :

1)L’attribution par le comité Nobel du prix Nobel de la paix à Liu Xiaobo correspond aux objectifs et aux critères d’attribution de ce prix. Dans la société contemporaine, la paix est inséparable des droits de l’Homme, la privation de la vie et son piétinement ne se produisent pas seulement sur les champs de bataille, mais sont également causés par la mise en oeuvre de mauvaises lois et d’une politique de violence.Le concert de louange de la part de l’opinion internationale montre que l’attriution du Prix à une personnalité représentative du mouvement chinois des droits de l’homme est une décision correcte et opportune.。

2) Le choix de Liu Xiaobo pour ce prix est particulièrement juste, car il n’a cessé de défendre les droits de l’homme de manière non-violente, et a toujours adopté une position raisonnable dans sa résistance aux injustices sociales ; il a montré une grande ténacité dans son combat pour obtenir la mise en oeuvre d’un régime constitutionnel,et malgré les persécutions, il est dépourvu de toute haine, ce qui fait de lui un candidat idéal pour le Prix. Les idées et la pratique de Liu Xiaobo constitutent pour les Chinois de mode de résolution des conflits

3) Dès qu’il a obtenu le Prix, les gouvernements de tous les pays, les dirigeants de toutes les régions et de toutes sortes d’organisations n’ont cessé d’exiger des autorités chinoises qu’elles libèrent LXB, ;nous adoptons la même attitude. En même temps, nous appelons les autorités à libérer tous les prisonniers de conscience et les prisonniers politiques enfermé pour des raisons d’idéologie,d’expression ou de foi religieuse.Nous appelons à prendre au plus vite toutes les mesures pour que LXB regagne sa liberté, qu’il soit réuni à son épouse Liu Xia, et qu’il puisse se rendre en personne à Oslo recevoir le prix.

4) En apprenant la nouvelle, dans toute la Chine, des citoyens ravis ont organisé des banquets, des réunions, ont porté des banderolles, distribué des tracts pour célébrer ou discuter l’événement ; ces actions sont tout à fait légales et raisonnables. Mais les policiers ont ont réprimé ces activités, des citoyens ont été gardés à vue, interrogés,  menacés, renvoyés dans leur lieu d’origine, voire détenus, placés en résidence surveillée, privés leur liberté d’action, privés de leur droit de communiquer avec l’extérieur, comme l’épouse de LXB Liu Xia. Nous exigeons que la police mette immédiatement un terme à ces actes illégaux et libère immédiatement les citoyens détenus.

5) Nous appelons les autorités chinoises à adopter une attitude raisonnable face à l’attribution du Prix à LXB, et en observant les réactions chaleureuses en chine et à l’étranger, à se mettre en accord avec le courant mondial ; la Chine doit entrer dans le courant principal des valeurs universelles et de la civilisation de l’humanité, et établir l’image d’un grand pays positiv et responsable. Nous sommes convaincus que toute amélioration et toute bonne intention du gouvernement chinois sera accueillie par la compréhension et le soutien de tous, et poussera la société chinoise dans une direction pacifique.

6) Nous appelons les autorités chinoises à tenir leur promesse de réforme du système politique. Le premier ministre Wen Jiabao, dans un ensemble de discours, a récemment manifesté son profond désir de faire avancer la réfome politique, et nous sommes prêts à participer à ce processus. Nous souhaitons que dans le cadre de la Constitution de la République populaire de Chine, de la Charte des Nations Unies qu’il reconnaît, et des traités internationaux qu’il a signés,le gouvernement puisse garantir réellement tous les droits des citoyens, qu’il mette en oeuvre une transition sociale pacifique afin de faire de la Chine un pays démocratique, doté d’un Etat de droit digne de ce nom.

October 15, 2010 in News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jerome A. Cohen Prize Essay in International Law and East Asia

In honor of Professor Jerome A. Cohen, who turned 80 on July 1, the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics is seeking papers addressing the interaction between the international legal system and Chinese and East Asian law and legal thought. The deadline is Sept. 24, 2010.

Here's the announcement.

August 4, 2010 in Fellowships/Research Opportunities, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 12, 2010

More melamine addiction

Putting melamine in milk seems a bit like eating peanuts or making Gao Zhisheng disappear; once you start, you just can't stop. I last blogged about this addiction in January; here's a news story showing that tainted milk is still being sold.

What can be done? According to Rio Praaning Prawira Adiningrat, secretary general of the Public Advice International Foundation, "The Chinese government has enormously and effectively responded with new laws and new regulations, and tries to implement this as soon as it can . . . .  I think they are absolutely doing the best they can."

One of the effective new regulations showing this zeal is reported here: lawyers being instructed by their governing bodies not to take melamine-related cases.

July 12, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More about Chinese drywall litigation

Earlier this month I blogged about a recent decision in US litigation over Chinese drywall. Dan Harris at the China Law Blog has a good post sharing my skepticism about enforcement (with more a more detailed discussion) and linking to several previous posts he's done on this.

April 24, 2010 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New developments in Chinese drywall litigation

There's a class action suit going on in Louisiana over drywall from China that is alleged to have emitted corrosive gases, damaging many homes. On April 8th, the judge issued his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (FFCL), finding the defendant Taishan Gypsum Company Ltd. (Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co., Ltd.) liable. Here's a report from the Asia Times. The report seems to think it's a big deal that Taishan Gypsum's ownership can ultimately be traced back to the Chinese state in the form of the State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission, but I'm not sure why. It's not clear that Taishan Gypsum attempted any kind of defense on sovereign immunity grounds; if they did, the FFCL don't deal mention it. Nobody's going to be seizing assets of the Chinese state to satisfy the judgment. Indeed, I wonder what the plaintiffs plan to do with their judgment. The chances of getting it enforced in China are virtually zero. US courts don't typically enforce Chinese judgments, and Chinese courts don't typically enforce US judgments. (There have been very rare exceptions in exceptional circumstances, but none of those circumstances apply here. See, for example, my comments on the Robinson Helicopter case and my paper on enforcement of US judgments in China.)

April 11, 2010 in Commentary, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Latest round in the Cohen birthday events: Hawaii, March 16

Earlier this month the University of Hawaii Law School put on a program in honor of Jerome Cohen's upcoming 80th birthday. Here are links to a video recording and a program description.

March 30, 2010 in Conferences, News - Miscellaneous, People and Institutions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The famous hukou editorial

On March 1, "[a] group of 13 Chinese newspapers from across the country carried an identical front-page editorial ... calling for the abolition of China’s household registration hukou system in a highly unusual co-ordinated critique of government policy." (Jamil Anderlini, "Call to end China citizen registration system," Financial Times, March 1, 2010) It seems, however, that appropriate advance permission had not been obtained. According to the South China Morning Post, "all the publications involved and most major internet news portals have removed the editorial or reports of it from their websites. According to an editor of another media outlet that ran the editorial, the verdict from the Central Publicity Department was brief: 'This act was inappropriate'." Moreover, the same article reported that "[e]ditors at The Economic Observer, the newspaper which initiated a joint editorial published on Monday criticising the mainland's hukou (household registration) system, have been punished for their bold action as other participating media confirmed a government order to remove the editorial from their websites."

Further reports:

It seems that the text of the editorial is still up on some web sites; here it is (available as of today) on the web site of the Chongqing Times (重庆时报). On the assumption that it would be nice to have a reliable source for both Chinese and English versions, however, I'm posting the original and a translation (the author of which has asked to remain anonymous). I'll post the English first, with the Chinese text following.

A Call for Accelerated Reforms to the Household Registration System to Truly Grant Rights to the People

China has long tasted the bitterness of its household registration system! Conceived in the planned economy era, it is an outdated system that has existed for decades and continues to disrupt the people's livelihoods today. It has, without sufficient reforms, ceased being relevant. To this end, on the occasion of the convening of the national "Two Sessions" , we,  the 13 newspapers from 11 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, are issuing a joint editorial and submitting it to the representatives and committee members of the “Two Sessions.” We ask that you use the power in your hands to urge the relevant ministries and commissions to put forward a clear time table for household registration reform; and, to gradually use the demographic information registration system to replace the existing rigid household registration system until it is completely abolished.

The Constitution stipulates that the citizens of the People's Republic of China are all equal before the law, that the nation respects and protects human rights, and that the citizens’ personal freedoms will not be infringed upon. Freedom of movement is an inseparable component of human rights and personal freedom; it is a basic right that the Constitution bestowed the people. However, the current household registration policy has created unequal statuses among urban residents and between urban residents and peasants, constraining the Chinese citizens’ freedom of movement. Alllaws and administrative and local regulations must not contradict the Constitution – this is the legal basis for accelerating the current reforms of the  household registration system.

The household registration system has divided cities and countryside. The first generation of migrant workers invested their labor into the development of the cities. However, their offspring still have no means to resolve the status of their identities. Their children still have to bear the quandary of the previous generation. The cities in which they live remain unable to accept them. We have to ask: for how many more generations must this divide last?

Even within the cities, the household registration system has divided urban residents. In the same city, even though we, like all others,  have struggled for many years for the construction of the city and paid the same taxes, the absence of hukous has rendered us unable  to enjoy the same employment opportunities as others, or the same social services such as medical treatment, education, and elderly care. We have to ask: for how many more generations must this divide last?

The household registration system is a breeding ground for corruption. Because of its scarcity,  hukous have become the objects of buying and selling in many cities. Those with holders’ rights can use them to seek payment; real-estate agents can use them as sales tools. But the countless people who are vulnerable must either pay the money or find themselves without recourse. We  have to ask: for how many more generations must this inequality  last?

Not long ago, Premier Wen Jiabao clearly expressed that the central government had already decided to steadily advance household registration reform. And dozens of other cities nationwide, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, have already launched household registration reform measures. Residential permits are slowly replacing temporary residential permits in these cities, and holders will be able to enjoy the same public services such as social security, medical treatment, and education as local residents. At the same time, the country is accelerating the establishment of a unified national social security services system, bringing about the inter-regional transfer and continuation of social security networks...

Admittedly, progress is gratifying, but in many more areas, we are still disappointed to note the invisible and heavy shackles of household registration, distressing the innumerable hard-pressed people on the run. We are deeply aware of the complicated nature of the household registration policy and the intricate complexities of the details of reform.  Yet, we cannot overlook those who have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience oppression and hardship as a consequence of this policy.  For them, awaiting urgent reforms has made every minute of waiting seem endless.

As China's economy soars, we must also be mindful of the pressing imminence of the economy’s structural transformations. The demographic dividend is fading away, and natural resources will not be available forever. The power behind China's next stage of growth has already begun to point even more so to the adjustment of the internal structure and the optimization of efficient usage of natural resources. Household registration reform is not only good for the people's welfare; it can also inject more dynamism into China's economy. More important, household registration reform can help foster values and ideas centered around people, becoming the cornerstone of making balanced progress in  Chinese society and constructing a harmonious society.

For this reason, we call on representatives and committee members of the national "Two Sessions" to use the power in your hands – power that the people gave you – to urge the relevant ministries and commissions to abolish, as soon as possible, the "Household Registration Regulations" issued in 1958; to put forward a clear time table for national household registration reform; and, to  gradually use the demographic information records system to replace the current rigid household registration system until it is completely abolished.

We hope that our many citizens, whether   they are rooted in the north or south without dividing  them into urban and rural, will all have the same rights to employment, medical treatment, elderly care, education, and freedom of movement. We hope that the one thing that has suffered from many decades of   failed administration will end with this generation, our generation, and enable the next one to truly enjoy the sacred rights of freedom, democracy, and equality bestowed by the Constitution.

吁请加速户籍改革来真正赋权于民
 
  中国尝户籍制度之苦久矣!此诞生于计划经济时代、不合时宜地存在数十年之久之制度,至今仍时时困扰民生,已到非革新不足以与时俱进之境地。为此,值全国“两会”召开之际,我们,全国11个省、自治区和直辖市的13家报纸发表共同社论,提请“两会”代表与委员们,善用你们手中的权力,敦促有关部委提出户籍改革的明确时间表,逐步以人口信息登记制度取代现行僵化的户籍制度,直至将其彻底消除。

  《宪法》规定,中华人民共和国公民在法律面前一律平等,国家尊重和保障人权,公民的人身自由不受侵犯。迁徙自由是人权和人身自由不可分割的组成部分,这是宪法赋予国民的基本权利。然而,现行的户籍政策却造成了城市居民与农民、城市居民之间地位的不平等,制约了中国公民的自由迁徙。一切法律、行政法规和地方性法规都不得同宪法相抵触,这是加速目前户籍制度改革的法理基础。

  户籍制度分割了城市和乡村。最早的一代农民工,为城市的发展付出了自己的劳动,可是,他们的下一代仍然没有办法解决身份认同,他们的子女仍然背负着上一代的困惑,他们生活的城市仍然无法接纳他们。我们要问,这样的隔离究竟还要持续几代人?

  即便在城市中,户籍制度也分割了城市的居民。在同一座城市中,尽管我们与其他人一样为这座城市的建设奋斗多年,一样纳税,但没有户口让我们无法与其他人一样享受平等的就业机会,享受同等的医疗、教育、养老等社会保障。我们要问,这样的隔离究竟还要持续几代人?

  户籍制度还是滋生腐败的温床。正因其稀缺,在很多城市户口成了被买卖的对象。有权者可以以此寻租,地产商可以以此为销售工具,而万千弱势者要么付出金钱的代价,要么无奈地面对。我们要问,这样的不平等究竟还要持续几代人?

  温家宝总理不久前就明确表示,中央已经决定稳妥地推进户籍制度改革。而包括上海、广州等全国数十个城市都已经出台户籍改革的措施。在这些城市,居住证正逐步取代暂住证,持证者将可享受与当地居民相同的社保、医疗、教育等公共服务。同时,国家正在加快建立全国统一的社保服务体系,实现社保关系跨地区转移接续……

  进步固然可喜,但在更多地方,我们仍然失望地看到户籍这一无形而又沉重的枷锁,困住无数疲于奔命的人们。我们深知户籍政策之盘根错节,改革细节之错综复杂,然而我们更无法漠视那些已经、正在以及仍将因此政策而受挫、受苦的人们。对于他们,等待改革的迫切让每一分钟的等待都显得非常漫长。

  中国经济飞速成长的同时,我们也要警醒经济结构的转型已迫在眉睫。人口红利正在消失,自然资源也非源源不绝,中国经济下一轮成长的动力已经更多地指向内部结构的调整与资源使用效率的优化。户籍制度改革不仅利于民生,更能为中国经济注入更多活力。最重要的是,户籍制度改革能帮助确立以人为本的价值理念,成为中国社会各阶层均衡进步、构建和谐社会的基石。

  为此,我们呼吁全国“两会”代表委员,运用你们手中人民赋予的权力,敦促有关部委尽快废除1958年颁布的《户口登记条例》,提出全国户籍制度改革的明确时间表,逐步以人口信息登记制度取代现行僵化的户籍制度,直至最终将其彻底消除。

  我们希望,我万千国民,地无分南北,人不分城乡,都拥有同样的就业、医疗、养老、教育、自由迁徙的权利。我们希望,一项为患数十年的弊政,能终于我们这一代人,让下一代人真正享有自由、民主、平等的宪法赋予之神圣权利。

March 26, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 8, 2010

AIDS law database launched

Here's the press release from Asia Catalyst:

(Gejiu, China, March 9, 2010) -- Asia Catalyst is proud to announce the “public beta” launch of its Asian AIDS Law Database.  The database is a free, user-friendly resource, searchable in Chinese and English, to help researchers to find HIV/AIDS-related statutes throughout Asia. It is the first database exclusively dedicated to this purpose.

With the “public beta” launch, Asia Catalyst invites lawyers, experts and organizations to share AIDS-related laws and policies from around Asia that may not yet be online. The database has over 100 records, ranging from Cambodia’s draft law on drug control to the national policy on HIV/AIDS of Bangladesh.

“The database will enable lawyers to analyze AIDS-related laws, and use them in their own advocacy,” said Ken Oh, editor of Asia Report (http://www.yazhoudiaocha.com), the news site that hosts the database. “Asian AIDS activists tell us that some governments are more responsive to model language from another Asian law.”

The project was born in response to growing demand from Asian AIDS advocates engaged in legal analysis and advocacy. The database was created by a volunteer team of law students and pro bono lawyers working with Asia Catalyst.

Asia Report, the Asia Catalyst-sponsored site that hosts the database, provides Chinese and English-language news about economic and social rights in North, South and Southeast Asia, with links to Asian rights groups, and announcements of upcoming conferences and events.

Asian AIDS Law Database users may choose countries, topics and levels of government from drop-down menus in both English and Chinese. The database will provide the text of the law or policy and a link to its location online. All records are in English, with Chinese translations provided where available.

“The international AIDS law field is growing quickly,” said  Ken Oh.“We hope our colleagues in Asia will use the database to analyze existing laws–and draft new ones.”

The database may be visited at http://www.yazhoudiaocha.com/laws/.

Asia Catalyst is a US-based resource for grassroots organizations working on HIV/AIDS in Asia. For more information, please see our website at www.asiacatalyst.org.

March 8, 2010 in News - Miscellaneous, Research Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NPC Delegates Say the Darnedest Things

That's the headline for an amusing post on the Wall Street Journal's China Real Time Report, quoting various remarks made by delegates at the current NPC session and captured on tape (well, captured on digital recorder, more likely).

According to the post, NPC delegate and Hubei governor Li Hongzhong was asked by a reporter about the Deng Yujiao case.

–Li Hongzhong, governor of Hubei province, was asked by a People’s Daily reporter about last year’s case of a hotel worker whose murder charges were dismissed after she claimed she had acted in self-defense when an official and his colleague tried to rape her. His reply: “Are you really from the People’s Daily? And you ask such a question? What kind of Communist Party mouthpiece are you? Is this how you guide public opinion? What’s your name? I’m going to find your boss.”

Caijing reported it a bit differently on its web site. According to its report, which it says it gathered from eyewitnesses, at the very end of a press conference held by Li the reporter asked him what his views were on the case. Li's face suddenly went dark and he left the room. Two minutes later he returned and demanded of the reporter (named Liu Jie, who worked for Jinghua Shibao, a newspaper within the People's Daily system), "Where are you from?" (i.e., which media outlet). She, apparently stunned, just said, "Huh", and he repeated, "Where are you from? Where are you from?" She finally answered, "The People's Daily." He said, "The People's Daily ... Why are you always going on about this affair. It's already over. I'm going to talk to your chief, right, OK?" He then grabbed her recording device from her and stalked out of the room with it. Later on the afternoon of the same day, a staff member with the Hubei delegation returned the recording device to the reporter, but with no apology.

Note to non-North American readers: the headline is a reference to "Kids Say the Darnedest Things," a segment of a popular TV show that ran in the fifties and sixties. The host would interview small children, who would answer questions in some cutely funny way (the answers that weren't funny were presumably edited out).

March 8, 2010 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)