Rule of Law

Thomas Stevenson. Inside the Minds of China’s ‘Weiquan’ Super-Lawyers. Tea Leaf Nation

In November of 2012, Li Jinxing saved a man’s life.  He didn’t heft a car or hurl himself in front of a bullet.  But, considering the history of capital cases in China, he did something just as extraordinary:  he delivered a “not guilty” verdict for his client, Lei Lijun.

Alvin Y.H. Cheung. The Battle for the Soul of Hong Kong. The Diplomat

Beijing’s hardline stance has set the stage for a dramatic showdown with Hong Kong’s democrats. After months of mobilization and counter-mobilization by democrats and anti-democrats, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) has finally spoken on Hong Kong’s chief executive electoral arrangements for 2017. 

Eva Pils. China must be held to account over ‘disappeared’ lawyers. The Guardian

China’s human rights lawyers are currently experiencing unprecedented persecution. Over the past 40 days, six lawyers have been taken away by the police and disappeared. Dozens of other rights defenders, activists and dissidents have also been taken away; and one of the lawyers has resurfaced under circumstances suggesting that he was badly tortured.

Jerome A. Cohen and Yu-Jie Chen. Is a Rising China Losing Respect for International Law. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

Although this week’s Rio Tinto case focused world attention on China’s domestic legal system, it also raised doubts about a rising China’s adherence to its international legal commitments.

Jerome A. Cohen. The US – China Consular Convention: Need for Greater Protection for Individuals. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

This is the start of my third year publishing a biweekly column in the South China Morning Post and in Taiwan’s Chinese language China Times. Most of these “op-eds” have concerned contemporary issues of law and justice in China, Taiwan or both as well as political- legal questions arising from the cross-strait reconciliation that began in 2008 with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s inauguration.

Jerome A. Cohen. Protecting Nationals Abroad: Implications of the Diayu/Senkaku Dispute. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

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.

Jerome A. Cohen. A Socialist System with Chinese Characteristics. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

In his recent annual report on the work of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, Wu Bangguo, its leader, announced that China has established “a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics”.  Wu made clear that the Party will continue to prefer Mao to Montesquieu and reject the separation of powers and other Western-style institutions for placing government under law.

Jerome A. Cohen. Respect for International Laws can Keep the Peace between China and the US. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

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. 

Ling Li. ‘Rule of law’ in a Party-state – A conceptual interpretive framework of the constitutional reality of China. Asian Journal of Law

This article proposes a “dual normative system” as a conceptual framework for the interpretation of the structural features of the Party-state. It also contends that this dual normative system shapes the constitutional reality of China. 

Aaron Halegua. China’s restrictions on barefoot lawyers could backfire. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

n April 2005, the blind activist Chen Guangcheng led a group of families to a courthouse in rural China. After suffering unlawful detentions and forced sterilisations under the government’s one-child policy campaign, they planned to sue the township mayor. A judge initially refused to accept the case. But Chen and the villagers argued there was no legal basis to reject it and insisted it be accepted. The judge relented and the lawsuit proceeded

Jerome A. Cohen. Detention of Women Activists Makes a Mockery of China’s Rule of Law Aspirations. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

Although a veteran observer of Chinese efforts to secure a just and stable legal system, I was surprised when Chinese police formally detained five women opponents of sexual harassment ahead of International Women’s Day.

Aaron Halegua. China’s new collective bargaining rule is too weak to ease labour conflicts. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

Strikes in China are on the rise: 2014 witnessed over 1,378, double the number in 2013. This surge intensified in the run-up to the Lunar New Year. Guangdong is the hub of both export manufacturing and labour unrest. The strikes there have been increasingly well coordinated and growing in size – nearly 40,000 workers at a Nike footwear supplier last year, another 3,000 workers at a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary last month.

Discussion. Rule of Law—Why Now? ChinaFile

Jerome Cohen, Professor of Law at NYU and Co-Director of the US-Asia Law Institute, Ira Belkin, Executive Director of the US-Asia Law Institute, Li Ling, Senior Research Scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute, and Margaret Lewis, Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School and an Affiliated Scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute, have contributed to a ChinaFile conversation on the upcoming Fourth Plenary Meeting of the CPC.

Jerome A. Cohen. Zhou Yongkang case shows China’s rule of law still good only in theory. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

For decades, China’s communist leaders have admonished their cadres to “combine theory and practice”. This is sound advice for any society. Yet, it is easier said than done. This perennial challenge now confronts the party’s Central Committee as it prepares to convene the highly anticipated fourth plenary session in October.

Jerome A. Cohen. Xu Zhiyong’s trial makes a mockery of Beijing’s pledge to enforce rule of law. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

Whenever asked about China’s latest criminal prosecution of a human rights advocate, the foreign ministry says it is being handled “in accordance with law”. This sounds assuring, but what does it mean? Last week’s trial of Xu Zhiyong , which the ministry termed “a common criminal case”, provides an occasion for inquiry.

Hua Ze. Misrule of Law in China. New York Times

Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer for the underprivileged, knew he risked his freedom by challenging the Chinese Communist Party to fulfill its vows to fight corruption and promote the rule of law. His fight made him one of China’s best known human-rights advocates, and it has now landed him in prison.