Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

PBS documentary (and other documentaries) on China's legal system

Circuitcourt_2 On July 3rd, PBS will be airing a documentary on the Chinese legal system entitled "The People's Court: China's Legal  Revolution" as part of its Wide Angle series. I haven't seen it, but it sounds very interesting. I'm reproducing the press release below; for more information, check out the Wide Angle web site.

Incidentally, I can think offhand of only two other documentaries that have material relevant to the Chinese legal system: China: Beyond the Clouds and China From the Inside. If readers know of more, please tell me about them in the comments. (Note that, as always, as an anti-spam measure your comment won't appear until I've viewed it and clicked "publish".)

* June 21st addendum: A reader has e-mailed me about another documentary, Shanghai Vice (7 parts), produced either in 1993 or 1999 (the sources are in conflict). More info here and here.

Continue reading

June 20, 2007 in News - Chinese Law, Publications | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

HRIC report on state secrets

Ssreportcover Human Rights in China has issued a lengthy (almost 300 pages) report on state secrets in China. See the following sources for more information:

   ●  HRIC press release

   ●  Text of report [HRIC web site | local copy]

   ●  Los Angeles Times story

June 12, 2007 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Report of UN Committee Against Torture

The United Nations Committee Against Torture recently released a report criticizing lack of judicial independence, an extremely low acquittal rate, statutes of limitations on crimes of torture, and human rights abuses among detainees. It also criticized the late (five years!) submission by the government of the country report, and noted that

the report does not fully conform to the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of initial reports, insofar as it lacks thorough information on how the Convention’s provisions have been applied in practice in the State party.  The initial report has often limited itself to statutory provisions rather than providing analysis of the implementation of the rights enshrined in the Convention, supported by examples and statistics.

Sound familiar? Well, it was a northeast Asian country, but it wasn't China; it was Japan.

Remarkably, the very critical report on the mission to China of Manfred Nowak, the UNHCR's Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, remains available in China (i.e., unblocked) at the UN's web site, both in English and in Chinese.

May 24, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 21, 2007

USTR issues 2007 Special 301 Report

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has just issued its 2007 Special 301 Report. This report is, in its own words, "an annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement, conducted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) pursuant to Special 301 provisions of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act)." Needless to say, a good deal of the report deals with China. Download the PDF version here.

May 21, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Amnesty International sees deterioration of human rights situation

The Washington Post reports as follows:

The 2008 Olympic Games have become a catalyst for more repression in China, not less, according to an Amnesty International report released today and aimed at pressuring the Beijing government a year before the start of the world's premier sporting event.

The 22-page report says China's illegal detention and imprisonment of activists and other measures have overshadowed some modest reforms, including how the Chinese legal system reviews death penalty cases and the loosening of some restrictions on the foreign press. The report marks the latest effort by human rights organizations and individuals to try to use the Olympics, and the international spotlight they place on China, to push for broader reforms. (Full story here.)

The full Amnesty International report is here: on-line version | PDF version.

April 30, 2007 in News - Chinese Law, Publications | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Latest issue of ABA's China Law Reporter

Here's the latest (March 2007) issue of the China Law Reporter, put out by the China Committee of the ABA's Section on International Law.

April 20, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Latest issue of GTZ newsletter

Here's the latest newsletter of the GTZ Legal Advisory Service (a German organization working in China). Please note that at the end of the newsletter they have a notice about internships with them in Beijing.

February 10, 2007 in Internships/Employment Opportunities, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The death penalty in China

The latest newsletter of the Duihua Foundation has a good report on recent reforms in the death penalty regime, as well as some interesting statistics from Yunnan. Among other things, the report estimates (unfortunately without citing a source) that there were only one or two thousand executions in the early 1980s; informed estimates (cited in the report) for 2005 and 2006 put the numbers at about 8000 and 7000 respectively.

February 6, 2007 in Commentary, Publications, Research Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Latest issue of China Law and Governance Review now available

The China Law and Governance Review has resumed publication after a hiatus of a couple of years; the December 2006 issue is available here.

January 27, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Empirical study of environmental law enforcement in China available on line

In keeping with my policy of plugging good books that readers might not normally run across, I am reproducing a message from Professor Jianfu Chen of the La Trobe University School of Law:

I am very pleased to advise that a very high quality empirical study of environment law enforcement in China is now on-line, free of charge for downloading.

The book is a Phd thesis completed at the Faculty of Law, Leiden University, by Benjamin van Rooij. It is an in-depth study of environmental law enforcement on the basis of many years of fieldwork on the ground. It is also a very high quality socio-legal study with a coherent theoretical framework and evaluation. It is one of the best Phd theses I have read in the last many years. I am sure all of your will enjoy reading it and find it useful in your own study and research.

The thesis is available here; an abstract by the author is at the end of this post.

There's something about environmental law that seems to promote good work in Chinese law. One book I have always liked is Xiaoying Ma & Leonard Ortolano, Environmental Regulation in China: Institutions, Enforcement, and Compliance (2000). Although the authors set out to write a narrowly focused study of the workings of the wastewater discharge permit system, they ended up writing a book full of interesting and important observations about how the Chinese legal system works. (Click here for a review.)


Continue reading

January 26, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 22, 2007

U Penn's Chinese Law and Policy Review

This is an unsolicited announcement about the Chinese Law and Policy Review, an online journal run by students at the Univ. of Pennsylvania Law School. Its unique claim to fame (of course it no doubt has others) is that it publishes all its articles in both Chinese and English; original submissions may be in either language. For more information, check out its Web site.

January 22, 2007 in Other, People and Institutions, Publications | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Employment law in China

Here's a resource you might not normally run across in the usual bibliographies, since it's a book chapter. Hilary Josephs of Syracuse University wrote the chapters on Chinese employment law in this forthcoming volume.

January 6, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

New book: "China's Psychiatric Inquisition"

Normally I don't plug individual books or articles (then I might have to start justifying why I don't plug others, and that's not a road I want to go down), but I make an exception for material that is really outstanding or hard to find or some combination of both. In this case both criteria are satisfied (it's not on

The book in question is Robin Munro, China's Psychiatric Inquisition: Dissent, Psychiatry and the Law in Post-1949 China (London: Wildy, Simmonds and Hill, 2006), a thorough study of the political abuse of psychiatry in China based on Munro's Ph.D. thesis (Department of Law, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London). (I should perhaps disclose a personal connection: I have been a friend of the author for many years.)

This is an unimpeachably (and in my opinion irrefutably) researched book, based largely on openly published Chinese sources. As a result, skeptics don't need to take the author's word for it; they can verify his sources for themselves. Although Munro's previous works on this subject have, not surprisingly, subjected him to criticism, none of the criticism I have seen - even where it rises above ad hominem name-calling - actually addresses the sources he cites in such detail and what they tell us. In particular, many of his critics have focused on Falungong-related issues, which are just a minor part of the overall story. Political abuse of psychiatry existed well before the anti-Falungong campaign and continues quite apart from it.

For a debate on earlier work in this area by Munro (which will bear out my characterization of the criticism), see the following (a symposium issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, and a response by Munro in a subsequent issue):

Munro's response to his critics:

Finally, here is the blurb on the publisher's Web site provided by Prof. Andrew Nathan:

This is a pathbreaking work in China studies, a chilling account of psychiatric abuse of political dissidents dating back to the early days of the Chinese regime and extending to the present. Munro's remarkable research brings to light the sufferings of thousands of previously unsuspected victims, some detailed in heart-breaking case studies.

Far from being an obscure corner of the Chinese system, the gulag of psychiatric abuse proves to be diagnostic of fundamental flaws in Chinese-style rule of law and state-dominated medicine. Munro's earlier research sparked an international campaign to seek improvements. This new, full account of his findings will stand as a classic of human rights research while it deepens our understanding of the Chinese legal and political system.

January 4, 2007 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

China Law and Governance Review resumes publication

Here is a letter from the editor:

Dear Friend,

We are resuming publication of China Law and Governance Review.

As a keen observer of China, we think that you will find the China Law and Governance Review different from other publications.  The Review is not a news-clipping service or a bulletin of recent developments.  We aim to examine and highlight some of the most interesting stories and compelling commentaries in the Chinese press, particularly in the areas of legal system development and governance.  These accounts and commentaries reflect the complex, dynamic and seemingly contradictory realities of a country that is neither the authoritarian state nor the new frontier of capitalism that many abroad perceive it to be.  We hope to stimulate discussion among our readership by offering value-added analysis, summaries, excerpts and background information to these news accounts and commentaries.   

To view the current and past issues of the China Law and Governance Review, please go to

To give you an idea of what the Review covers, here is the Table of Contents for the current issue:

Main Feature

Secured Transactions Law Reform in China

Key stakeholders in China work with the World Bank and People’s Bank of China to undertake legal and institutional changes to improve access to credit for Chinese businesses. 

Legal Reform   

Returning Death Penalty Review to the Supreme People’s Court: How will the Court Staff the New Death Penalty Review Divisions?

The Supreme People’s Court is reinstating its full authority to review death penalty sentences. Three new criminal divisions will require a large number of new judges.

Case File      

Voices Against Discrimination

An update of recent cases and developments in Hepatitis B Virus status, gender, residency and place of origin-based discrimination.

Heard on the Web    

Beijing Police Abandons Quota

The quota system for traffic fines and criminal arrests in Beijing has officially ended.  Most bloggers applaud the move and offer some interesting twists of their own.

The Review is a publication of China Law and Development Consultants, a Hong Kong firm specializing in non-profit development work in China. 

We welcome your feedback.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at

Best wishes for the New Year!

Ms. Su Lin Han, Editor
Ms. Phyllis L. Chang, President, China Law and Development Consultant
Ms. Stephanie Fischer, Contributing Editor

December 31, 2006 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

China Law Reporter call for papers

Here's a message posted recently on the Chinalaw listserv:

Dear All:

I am a vice chair of China Committee under American Bar Association. Our committee has been thriving under the leadership of our present chairs and past chairs. First of all, I would like to wish everyone of you a happy and prosperous New Year.

As a vice chair of China Committee, I am in charge of editing a bi-monthly newsletter, “China Law Reporter” for China Committee along with other co-editors. So far, the newsletter has been well commented.

Our newsletter is divided into following parts: 1) “Co-chairs’ Messages”; 2) “Recent Developments” that contains short articles addressing hot issues; 3)  “China Briefs” features short summary of recent China laws and regulations; 4) “Items of Interests” provide a list of articles or books related to China law; 5) “Job Opportunities” will allow job announcement be posted to China Law Reporter; and 6) “About  the China Law Reporter” .

I am now soliciting short articles around 2000 or less words be posted to “Recent Development”. We usually post three articles per issue. If your article is not published on this issue, we’ll trail it to the next issue after we decided to use it.
You are also welcome to post job opportunities to our newsletter. 
Your contributions to China Law Reporter are much appreciated. Please send your contribution simultaneously to following co-editors:

Qiang Bjornbak:
Paul Edelberg:
Cameron Smith:
Russell Leu:

The deadline for submitting your contributions is originally set on Jan 2nd, 2007. Due to long holiday season, I would like to extend it to Jan 7th. We need to get the newsletter released around mid of January. Please have questions, feel free to contact me. The samples of the previous newsletter are posted to China Committee home page at

Thank you in advance for your support to China Law Reporter

Qiang Bjornbak
Attorney at Law
Vice Chair of China Committee
523 West 6th Street, # 701
Los Angeles, Ca 90014
213 239 9730, 310 403 8516
Skype ID qianghuab

December 30, 2006 in Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

USTR report on China's WTO compliance

On December 11, the United States Trade Representative released its annual report to Congress on China's compliance with its WTO obligations. I haven't yet read the report, and my posting of these links to it should not, of course, be construed as agreement with its findings.

December 12, 2006 in News - Chinese Law, News - Miscellaneous, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Human Rights Watch report on restrictions on Chinese lawyers

On December 11, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled "A Great Danger for Lawyers": New Regulatory Curbs on Lawyers Representing Protesters [download | web link]. The report focuses on the  All-China Lawyers' Association "Guidance Opinion on the Undertaking by Lawyers of Mass Cases" (中华全国律师协会关于律师办理群体性案件指导意见) issued last March and previously discussed on this blog. It also contains an English translation of the Guidance Opinion. For the New York Times story, click here.

December 11, 2006 in Commentary, News - Chinese Law, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Call for papers: conference of the European Association for China Law Studies

Here is an edited version of an announcement I recently received:

The Second Conference of the European Association for China Law Studies is bringing together legal scholars from Europe and other countries around the world.  This conference series will serve as a meeting point for the research and teaching of Chinese law, an informational exchange among those involved in organizing China law studies, and a forum for developing individual research projects.

Authors are invited to submit abstracts before January 15, 2007.  The abstracts should be submitted as an email attachment sent to Dr. Knut Benjamin Pißler (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg/Germany, or to Professor Christiane Wendehorst (Sino German Institute for Legal Studies, University of Göttingen/Germany, The preferred format is MS Word.

The abstract should include:
- the title of the paper,
- full names of the author(s), their institutions, and email of the corresponding author,
- up to one page of text summarising the main contents of the proposed paper.

Authors will be informed of the paper’s acceptance before  February 1, 2007. Camera-ready papers (not exceeding 10 pages) are due by July 1, 2007.

The full-length papers presented at the conference will be published.

For more information, click here.

November 25, 2006 in Conferences, Other, Publications | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Latest issue of China Law Reporter available

The November 2006 issue of the ABA Section on International Law's China Law Reporter is now available here.  Here's a summary of the contents:

  • Charles Booth, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii School of Law and Director of the Institute of Asian-Pacific Business Law at the University of Hawaii School of Law, contributes "The Race of Two Tortoises: Insolvency Law Reform in Hong Kong and China".
  • Paul Jones, Principal of Jones & Co. in Toronto, writes "Understanding China's Franchise Law Regulations".
  • Robin Gerofsky Kaptzan, a US lawyer resident in Shanghai, contributes "Company Supervision of FIEs by Shareholders and Employees: A Hurdle for Small and Medium Size Enterprises in Shanghai".
  • The Jun He Law Offices provide "Summary of Laws from June 10, 2006 to July 10, 2006" and "List of Laws and Regulations from June 10, 2006 to July 10, 2006".
  • Kara Philips, the Collection Development Librarian/Associate Director of Seattle University's Law Library, contributes "Items of Interest," a review of China-related books and articles.

November 19, 2006 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 6, 2006

November issue of CECC newsletter now available

The November 2006 issue of the newsletter of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China is now available here and, in PDF form, here.

November 6, 2006 in Publications | Permalink | TrackBack (0)