Every nation has the right to defend itself against theft of state secrets and commercial bribery. No one should dispute China’s right to do so. Then why should Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, himself a China specialist, take the extraordinary step of publicly warning the Chinese Government that the world is watching how it handles the case of Rio Tinto’s Stern Hu, a Chinese-born Australian, and his three Chinese co-workers?
When told I had criticized the Taiwan government’s recent decision to bar Rebiya Kadeer from visiting the island, Taiwan’s new Prime Minister, Wu Den-Yih, remarked:”People who do not live in our land may not understand…and need not take any responsibility. We respect their comments but do not necessarily adopt all of them.” This polite “putdown” deserves our reflection.
What can a government do when it believes a foreign government has unjustly detained one of its nationals? This month’s dangerous dispute between China and Japan understandably focused attention on their conflicting claims of sovereignty over the uninhabited islets known as the Diaoyu or Senkaku. Yet the methods used by China to free a fishing trawler captain from criminal investigation in Japan are undoubtedly being studied by countries that have similar problems in China and elsewhere.
Last week’s US-South Korean “war games” in the Yellow Sea offshore China and Korea dramatically brought to a boil the long-simmering US-China dispute over what kinds of military activities can be conducted in another nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Think tanks, pundits and media on both sides of the Pacific have worked themselves into a lather about this week’s state visit to the United States by China’s President Hu Jintao. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi added to the “buzz”, telling the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on January 6 that this summit is an “historic opportunity” during which Presidents Hu and Obama “will map out a blueprint together for China-U.S. cooperation for the new era.”
Human rights organizations criticized America’s new Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, for stating that the United States Government cannot allow disagreements over human rights to interfere with Sino-American cooperation in economic, climate and security crises. These critics also noted that Obama Administration officials were emphasizing those crises but not China’s violations of its international human rights obligations
The December 19 announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death has stimulated another round of useful debate in the United States about how it and its South Korean and Japanese allies should deal with North Korea. Predictions about what is likely to happen under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un run the gamut, and suggested policies are just as diverse.
The already tense atmosphere in the East China Sea ratcheted up a notch this past week when China declared a new air defense identification zone.The United States’ fight of a pari of B-52 bombers through that zone on Monday further highlighted the potential for conflict in the contested area. The legal issues involved in the use of the sea, are intellectually intriguing for an academic who studies international law. The political realities of this increasingly tough neighborhood, however, are frightening.
When Chinese law enforcement officials detain a visitor, his family faces excruciating decisions. This is especially true when the detainee is either a foreigner who used to be a Chinese citizen or a Chinese residing abroad. If the case involves “state secrets”, it is more complex.
The death penalty grabbed international headlines this past week with controversial executions in the United States and Taiwan. What has received less attention is whether the practices in these jurisdictions comport with evolving international norms.
For over sixty million Americans, possessing a criminal record over¬shadows everything else about their public identity. A rap sheet, or even a court appearance or background report that reveals a run-in with the law, can have fateful consequences for a person’s inter¬actions with just about everyone else. The Eternal Criminal Record (Harvard) makes transparent an all-pervading system of police databases and identity-screening that has become a routine feature of American life.
Although China’s increasingly “assertive” international conduct has naturally stirred widespread concern in both Asia and the US, especially regarding the South China Sea, an overview of Beijing’s foreign policy suggests a less alarming perspective.
The trial of Bo Xilai, former Party Secretary of Chongqing, has been called the most important political trial in China in decades. On Wednesday, August 28, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR) convened a discussion with two American experts on Chinese legal development and politics, Ira Belkin and Cheng Li, respectively.
Although China’s increasingly “assertive” international conduct has naturally stirred widespread concern in both Asia and the US, especially regarding the South China Sea, an overview of Beijing’s foreign policy suggests a less alarming perspective. In some major subjects, such as environmental pollution and climate change, there are good prospects for Beijing’s cooperation with the United States and other nations.
Whether in the United States, China or elsewhere, the struggle for fairness in the administration of criminal justice is never-ending. The challenge is especially daunting when prosecuting “state secrets” cases. China’s July 5 sentencing of naturalized American citizen Xue Feng to eight years imprisonment for helping his American employer purchase a commercial database on Chinese oil resources is the latest example of how not to meet that challenge.
Most countries, including the United States, struggle to strike a balance between the need to keep some government information secret in the interest of national security and the need to provide free access to most information in the interest of popular participation and economic development.