Thursday, November 21, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
Here’s an announcement I’ve received that may be of interest to people in DC, Boston, and Irvine:
In early December, the Department of Commerce’s Acting General Counsel will lead the 18th U.S.-China Legal Exchange with his counterpart from China’s Ministry of Commerce. The Legal Exchange will take place in Washington, DC on Dec. 4, Boston on Dec. 6, and Irvine on Dec. 9. This event presents a unique forum allowing the U.S. business, legal, and academic communities across the country to hear directly from Chinese officials about new and important developments in China’s commercial legal and regulatory landscape. This year, high-level government officials from China, led by Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen, will present to public audiences in Washington, Boston, and Irvine for a full day on two areas of China’s commercial law regime:
- Chinese Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Law; and
- Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship in China, including Private Equity and Venture Capital.
Commerce invites U.S. company representatives, lawyers, academics, local and state government officials, students, and other interested persons to attend the Legal Exchange and participate in discussions on these topics with Chinese government officials and experts from the United States. More information about this event and registration details are available at (http://export.gov/china/uschinalegalexchange/). In addition, sponsorship opportunities are available. Brett Gerson at email@example.com or (202) 482-5595 has more information.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Here's a nice brief piece (in Chinese) by Caixin's legal affairs commentator reviewing judicial reform policies since the late 1990s through to today as a context for understanding what the Third Plenum's communique says about judicial reform (not much).
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Here are the Chinese and English texts. Nothing terribly earth-shattering, either in the realm of law or anywhere else. Since Chris Buckley of the New York Times expressed an interest on Twitter in a plenum limerick, I herewith oblige:
One might ask of the Party’s 3rd Plenum:
All these slogans – do you really mean 'em?
We waited, all eager,
But their substance is meager,
And it’s not the first time that we’ve seen 'em.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
I have received the following announcement:
Job Posting: 2014-15 Teaching Fellowships
at Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL)
in Shenzhen, China
In 2008, Peking University, China’s oldest and most distinguished university, opened the first law school to offer a J.D. program in mainland China. The program closely follows the model of J.D. education in the United States, focusing on American law, but within a transnational perspective. The Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) is located on the University’s graduate and professional campus in Shenzhen, which is adjacent to Hong Kong. Shenzhen is a vibrant, modern international city of fifteen million people. Enrollment at STL is very small compared to law schools in the United States – there are about 90 students in each class. Virtually all students are native speakers of Chinese, who speak English as a second language. Admission is highly selective based on prior academic performance, scores on a national qualifying examination and the LSAT, and a rigorous interview. The quality of the student body is comparable to that at the most prestigious law schools in the United States. Instruction is entirely in English.
For 2014-15, STL will appoint up to ten C.V. Starr Lecturers (CVSLs) in the Transnational Legal Practice Program. The program provides first-year and second-year students with intensive instruction in legal analysis, legal research and writing, and other professional and legal skills necessary for the practice of law in a global environment. The Starr Lecturers work with students in small classes of about 10-12 to develop written and oral skills. The CVSLs also co-teach the Legal Method course. The CVSLs are considered to be part of the faculty of STL and play a fully integrated, active role in the intellectual life of the law school. The appointments are for one year with the possibility of extension.
To be considered, a candidate for this position must hold a J.D. degree (or expect graduation in this academic year) and have native fluency in English. Candidates should be responsible, enthusiastic, hard working, and adventurous. Ability to speak Mandarin is useful for living in Shenzhen, but not necessary for the program.
CVSLs will be expected to arrive in Shenzhen in mid-August 2014, and be in residence throughout the academic year, which runs to the end of June 2015 (with an approximate one month break around the lunar new year). Fellows will receive a private room with bath in the student and faculty campus housing complex, comprehensive medical insurance, roundtrip transportation from the United States or other country of origin, and a stipend of US$2000 per month (or the equivalent in RMB). While this is a modest amount by United States standards, given the cost of living in China prior CVSLs have found it to be sufficient to cover board, incidental living expenses and some travel in and around China during school breaks.
For more information about the STL see our website http://stl.pku.edu.cn/en/. Please submit resumes and covering material via email to:
Vice Dean Stephen Yandle
We will begin reviewing applications September 1, 2013, with the goal of completing the selection process by the end of 2013. We will accept applications until all of the positions have been filled.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
I have received the following announcement:
Clarke Program Fellow
Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture, Law School
Meridian 180, a new community of prominent intellectuals and policy makers in Asia, the United States and around the world interested in new ways of thinking about law and markets broadly conceived, seeks to hire a Fellow at its center of operations at Cornell University, in Ithaca New York beginning no later than September 1, 2014. The aim of Meridian 180 is to generate new paradigms and solutions for the next generation of transpacific relations. The Fellow will play an integral part in this mission through translation, research, and outreach to wider public and policy communities.
Meridian 180 is a project of the Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture at the Cornell Law School. It is a non-profit, non-political project funded through private donations and with support from Cornell Law School. It is comprised of Senior Fellows and of Members in law, the academy, private practice and policy circles who meet regularly via an on-line platform supporting multilingual conversations, as well as periodically in face to face conferences. Ideas that emerge from these conversations are then incubated and developed, with the help of the Fellow, into forms in which they can make a difference in each individual society—ranging from policy papers to academic books, blog entries, and individual conversations with policy makers.
The Fellow will be responsible for the day to day maintenance and translation of on-line dialogues. He or she will also (1) work with other Fellows to draft, create, and translate various elements of the Meridian 180 project, (2) help organize conferences and workshops in the US and the Asia Pacific Region, (3) administer various day-to-day aspects of the project, and (4) take initiative, in coordination with the Director and other members of the team, to develop new features and projects to further the goals of the Meridian 180 project.
Duties and responsibilities (with approximate % of work time):
- Day to day translation of on-line dialogues on meridian-180.org (30%): The Fellow will provide on-line translations from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese of participants’ interventions on the website. This will be a daily task and translations typically must be completed within a 24 hour period.
- Work with other Fellows and Meridian 180 members to produce publications emerging from on-line conversations (25%): The Fellow will work with other Fellows, Meridian 180 members, and other Meridian 180 staff to write/edit/research/produce the final versions of conversations that will be made publicly available, either on meridian-180.org or in other venues (in electronic format or in print – policy papers, books, op-eds, etc.).
- Work with the Director on strategic planning (10%): The Fellow will help develop new research and outreach initiatives for both meridian-180.org and the Clarke Program. The Fellow will help identify emerging scholars whose work should be promoted and/or included on meridian-180.org and more generally via the Clarke Program.
- Conferences and Website Maintenance (15%): The Fellow will work on larger Clarke Program projects, related or not to meridian180.org. In particular, he or she will help with the organization of the conferences which, each year, will convene Meridian 180 members to further and promote the ideas developed in on-line conversations. The Fellow will also take initiative in managing the various features on Meridian 180 website.
- Individual research (20%, i.e. 8h/week) The Fellow is also expected to pursue his or her own individual academic research and writing leading toward publications and conference presentations. It may be possible to take this research time in one block during a portion of the summer break.
Qualifications and requirements
- law degree (JD or LLB) or PhD in the humanities or social sciences in hand by July 1, 2014.
- fluency in English and Chinese. Some level of familiarity with Japanese and/or Korean a plus (but not necessary).
- experience as translator or interpreter.
- must be comfortable with basic computer and internet operations; familiarity with programming (Drupal, PHP, commonspot) a plus (but not necessary)
- entrepreneurial initiative; independence, ability to work in teams, maturity, writing skills, research/scholarly experience, organization, focus, interest in the future of the East Asia-US relationship, familiarity with the Chinese academia, willingness to work on administrative task such as updating databases, communicating with institutions within Cornell University, and other miscellaneous day-to-day tasks, willingness to learn new skills, particularly in relation to computer and internet technology.
Interested applicants should submit a resume, cover letter and writing sample by December 13, 2013 to Donna Hastings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is an inclusive, dynamic, and innovative Ivy League university and New York's land-grant institution. Its staff, faculty, and students impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute creative ideas and best practices to further the university's mission of teaching, research, and outreach.
Cornell University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer.
I have received the following announcement:
The Rights Practice is looking for a project officer to join its Beijing office and support the organisation’s growing programme in China.
We are seeking a motivated and experienced individual to support the delivery of our programme in China. As part of a small team you will have responsibility for supporting our programme manager and local partners in the implementation of a number of law and human rights projects.
You will need to be educated to degree level, preferably in law or human rights, have some relevant work experience, and be supportive of our work. Good communication skills in English, fluency in Chinese and an attention to detail under pressure are essential. We particularly welcome applicants with knowledge of criminal justice in China. The successful applicant must be able to live in Beijing and we cannot pay any relocation costs. For further information please see our website http://www.rights-practice.org/en/about.html.
To apply, please submit by email your CV and a cover letter to Nicola Macbean at email@example.com. Please submit your application as soon as possible or email first to indicate your interest. We are seeking to appoint someone by the end of November 2013.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
There's a general consensus among Chinese and foreign scholars of Chinese law that whatever advantages the current system of local leadership over courts and procuratorates may have, they are far outweighed by the disadvantages. Local political leadership controls personnel and finances of courts and procuratorates at the same administrative level, and this naturally makes courts and procuratorates tend to listen to local political leaders, even when their wishes go against what the law might require.
Proposals to centralize control over court personnel and finances have been around for what seems like decades now, but have never gotten anywhere. The principle of local control is quite strong in China, and as courts and procuratorates are viewed by local governments as just another bureaucracy, one can understand why they would not feel there was anything special about them justifying a special governance and accountability structure. Moreover, any centralization would require amendment not only of the Court Organization Law, but of the Constitution itself: Article 101 provides that local people's congresses at the county level and above have the power of appointment and dismissal over chief judges and chief procurators at the same level, although interestingly appointment and dismissal of a chief procurator requires the approval of the higher-level procuratorate and people's congress standing committee.
In any case, the Duowei news service (not always reliable) reports yet another initiative to centralize the power of personnel appointment and finances over courts. Whether this time it will go anywhere is anyone's guess.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Is a high-energy scanner a "like product" with a low-energy scanner? MOFCOM says yes, WTO panel says no.
I had a look today at the WTO panel decision in China - Definitive Anti-Dumping Duties on X-Ray Security Inspection Equipment from the European Union. This was a complaint by the EU against China for its finding of dumping against Smiths Heimann GmbH ("Smiths"), a European exporter of x-ray security inspection equipment, i.e., scanning machines.
Smiths might have been justified in thinking it had not received an entirely fair hearing before the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM"); the Chinese complainant, Nuctech, was closely associated with Chinese leader Hu Jintao's son, Hu Haifeng - he had been president of the company until 2008, when he was promoted to become the Party secretary of Tsinghua Holdings, a company that controls Nuctech and a number of other companies. In any case, the WTO panel seems to have agreed. It found pretty much across the board in favor of the EU.
An interesting aspect of the case was the question of whether the so-called "low energy scanners" exported by Smiths were a "like product" with high-energy scanners manufactured by Nuctech. It worked in Nuctech's favor to find that they were, and MOFCOM duly so found. The panel was not impressed. In fact, it even bolstered its finding by including in the report photographs of each kind of scanner. You be the judge:
Am I being too cynical to suspect that the fix was in?
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Some job openings related to Chinese law have come up recently:
- Great Britain China Center: "The Great Britain–China Centre is seeking a Deputy Director to develop its partnership project work in China in the field of rule of law development and to lead new initiatives in such areas as legal, judicial and media reform, good governance, management training and political and economic dialogues with China." Details here.
- ABA Rule of Law Initiative: "ABA ROLI seeks candidates to fill one Program Officer position based in Beijing, China. The Program Officer, working under the supervision of the Country Director and Deputy Country Director, will be responsible for managing and implementing cooperative training, policy, research, and networking projects primarily in the areas of environmental law and civil society capacity building." Details here.
HT: Mark Cohen.
Friday, August 23, 2013
I've finally gone through the transcripts from day 2 of the Bo Xilai trial. Here are a few observations, in no particular order:
- As in day 1, there's an awful lot of evidence about stuff Gu Kailai did and varions things Xu Ming did for the family, but almost nothing that suggests a quid pro quo delivered by Bo in exchange for all these goodies. At one point Bo (pretty much correctly) pointed out that 99% of what the prosecutor was saying was irrelevant to the question of his guilt. The only direct piece of evidence I can recall is Bo's own confession from his time in shuanggui (Party disciplinary) detention, in which he says that he did a lot for Xu Ming in return, including some quite unusual favors. He explicitly uses the word "trade" (交易).
- Using Bo's shuanggui confession against him is problematic. Evidence gathered in the shuanggui process isn't supposed to be admissible in court; the prosecution is supposed to re-gather the evidence. Even unencumbered by a "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine, however, it seems they couldn't get Bo to repeat his confession in the post-shuanggui stage - i.e., the formal, lawful investigative stage - and so had to fall back on this one. Bo has asserted the illegality of this evidence and asked that it be excluded.
- Bo says at one point that when Gu Kailai spoke about her murdering of Neil Heywood, she said she felt like the famous assassin Jing Ke. Has Bo ever previously admitted to knowing (before she was accused, of course) that Gu Kailai murdered Heywood? He doesn't specify when she said this to him, but presumably the two wouldn't have had many chances to speak once she came under suspicion and was in detention.
- As usual in criminal trials, most witnesses fail to appear in court, despite the rule of the Law on Criminal Procedure that they should ordinarily do so. Art. 59 of the CPL says, "The testimony of a witness may be used as a basis in deciding a case only after the witness has been questioned and cross-examined in the courtroom by both sides, that is, the public prosecutor and victim as well as the defendant and defenders" (emphasis added). Pretty clear, right? Now, there are other rules in the CPL that contemplate admissible testimony from witnesses that do not show up in court (e.g., Art. 187 and 190), so clearly some exceptions are allowed. But it's hard to read the law as allowing exceptions to be so numerous as to become the rule, which is what we've ended up with.
- The grossest twisting of the rules on witnesses appears in the debate over Gu Kailai's testimony. Her testimony has been delivered via a written statement and a videotaped statement. According to the transcripts posted by the Jinan court, both Bo and the prosecution requested that she appear in court to testify, and the court agreed with the request. But when they went to the prison to ask that she come along, she refused. The court then, incredibly, cited Art. 188(1) of the CPL, which states that while reluctant witnesses can be required to appear in court, this does not apply to the spouse, children, or parents of the defendant. Now, I'm pretty sure this provision was intended to protect the defendant and his close relatives; it expresses something like a spousal privilege. Here it's being used perversely to prevent the defendant from directly cross-examining a hostile witness.
- Finally, what was the mysterious meat from a rare African animal that Guagua brought back from his African trip? It was in a wooden box and was supposed to be eaten raw. Bo refused (understandably, I must say - it couldn't have been too fresh by that time) so they cooked it. Gu Kailai says it lasted a month. Could this have been it?
UPDATE (Aug. 25, 2013): Yesterday I posted this text on my China-side blog (which I use as a mirror blog because this one is blocked in China); today I found that the post had been deleted by the blog host. I wonder which part of this analysis hit a nerve?
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
Here’s what purports to be a video of an execution shot by one of a group of local spectators (clearly told in advance and expecting it) on a nearby hilltop.
Given Xinhua's recent unhappy experience with posting pictures of an execution that turned out to be from a fetish porn site, let me make clear that I can’t vouch for its authenticity; the procedure does seem shockingly casual (as is the reaction of the spectators, who don't seem to be seeing this kind of thing for the first time), but who knows? China is a big country and just about anything can happen at least once in at least one place. Can anyone identify the spectators’ dialect? It sounds vaguely Cantonese but not completely so.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
A day or two ago, former Singapore Prime Minister and glorified mayor Lee Kuan Yew made the amazing statement that Xi Jinping could be compared to Nelson Mandela. Personally, I'm afraid that the qualities needed to become capo di tutti capi in the Chinese Communist Party are not quite the same qualities needed to be a Mandela. I thought of that statement today when I came across this video of a jailhouse statement from Xu Zhiyong, the recently detained rights activist. This is a man who does seem to have those qualities.
Perhaps one day we will find that he has feet of clay. Well, so did Mandela and Martin Luther King. Xu is a pretty remarkable guy and his continued detention should not be forgotten. Of course he is not the first and won't be the last, and he is far from the worst treated. (Ni Yulan and Chen Guangcheng, for example, as well as their families, have all suffered atrociously.) But we can't always pick our symbols with perfect logical consistency. For some reason, Xu's detention seems to shout particularly loudly: What kind of government cannot tolerate even a person like this?
Here's the video; the text of his statement in Chinese and English (my translation) is below it.
倡导大家做公民，堂堂正正做公民，践行宪法规定的公民权利，履行公民责任；推动教育平权，随迁子女就地高考；呼吁官员财产公示。在这荒诞的时代，这就是我的三大罪状。 社会进步总得有人付出代价，我愿意为自由、公义、爱的信仰承担一切代价。无论这个社会怎么样，溃败，荒诞，这个国家需要一群勇敢的公民站出来，坚守信仰，把权利，责任，和梦想当真。 我很骄傲在自己的姓名面前署上“公民”两个字，希望大家也这样，在自己的名字前署上“公民”两个字。只要我们大家团结起来，共同努力，把公民的权利当真，把公民的身份当真，共同推动国家的民主，法治，公平，正义。我们一定能够建设一个自由、公义、爱的美好中国。
I encouraged everyone to be a citizen, to proudly and forthrightly be a citizen, to practice their rights as citizens set forth in the constitution and to undertake their responsibilities as citizens; I promoted equal rights in education and allowing children to take the university examination where they have followed their parents to live; I called for officials to disclose their assets. In these absurd times, those are my three crimes. Social progress always requires some people to pay a price. I am willing to pay any price for my belief in freedom, justice, and love. No matter how collapsed or absurd this society is, this country needs a group of brave citizens who will stand forth and hold fast to their beliefs, and will make a reality of their rights, responsibilities, and dreams. I’m proud to put the word ‘citizen’ before my name, and I hope everyone will likewise put the word ‘citizen’ before their name. As long as we unite and work together to make citizens’ rights a reality, and together promote democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice in our country, surely we can build a beautiful China of freedom, justice, and love.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Mark Cohen is looking for you! Mark is a Chinese IP law expert now (back) at the US PTO, and recently circulated the following message on the Chinalaw list. With his permission I'm re-posting it here. I hope all in his target audience will respond; it would be great to have a list of such people available (but in responsible hands, of course).
If your work in the US government involves Chinese law and you are interested in meeting colleagues and exchanging experiences and updates, please contact me at my official address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowledge of Chinese is not required. My sense is that there is an expanding community of us, and that it would be useful to exchange views on common concerns.
I am personally particularly interested in getting to know people who are involved in areas such as public international law, securities regulation, environmental protection, labor standards, law enforcement, human rights, etc. (in addition to the trade and IP community I know), that need to look at Chinese legal matters and would benefit from getting involved in a larger community of people.
If you work on the Hill, or you are a judge or judicial official, and you are interested in Chinese law, please give me your name as well.
We will probably meet informally at some point after I have collected all the names - either virtually or perhaps a lunch or dinner.