June 22, 2007 - by Diana Wang
The Chinese vendors have perfected the art of faking like no other. Just take a look around you, and you'll find counterfeits everywhere. Beijing alone has numerous shopping centers devoted to fake products, with the likes of Yashow, Silk, Pearl Market and Sunny Market catering to both locals and foreigners alike. Any brand that carries any weight, Gucci, Dior, Chanel, Lange & Soehne, Puma, Boss (and I'm sure I've left out loads more) all have a place in this fakers paradise and for a not even a fraction of the normal price.
The people of China have become to expect buying fake products as something normal. Everybody buys fake products and everybody uses fake products. But there are times where things get out of hand and consequently lines are crossed.
Earlier this year, tainted Chinese pet food ingredients killed and sickened thousands of dogs and cats in United States. The exported pet food contained melamine; a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests but provides no nutritional benefits and it prompted the largest pet food recall in the history of America.
In 2004, China launched an investigation into the death of 13 dead and as many as 189 sick babies in Fuyang City, east of Anhui Province from fake milk powders. These substandard powders are made from cheap ingredients and lacking in protein, fat and vitamin, all of which are essential to a child's growth. The Chinese doctors called this the "big head disease" where the baby's head swelled while their bodies wasted away. The symptoms are like those of edema, a build up of fluid that is a feature starvation. Police confiscated a staggering 4,425 boxes of the fake formula under 45 different brand names by 141 factories across the country according to official statement. The government promised the family ...
June 22, 2007 - by Diana Wang
June 20, 2007 - by William Han
Non-Americans like to recite stories of unreasonable tort cases as proof of American idiocy ¨C you know, like someone suing McDonald's because the hot coffee scalded his lips. But usually the stories don't involve judges as litigants.
In recent weeks, however, a pair of such cases involving judges reached US courts. In one case, Robert Bork, the federal appeals judge who in 1987 was nominated to the Supreme Court, is suing the Yale Club in New York after taking a fall when delivering a lecture there. For the pains he has suffered, Judge Bork seeks one million dollars in damages plus legal fees.
In a second case, Roy L. Pearson, a federal administrative judge, is suing his neighborhood drycleaners for $67.3 million for allegedly losing his pants. Paul Rothstein, a professor of law at Georgetown University, probably expressed the sentiment of most when he said, "I don't know of any other cases that have been quite this ridiculous".
The state of affairs in China is more or less antipodean. Chinese courts commonly award damages equivalent to just a few thousand US dollars even for cases of grave personal injury or even wrongful death. In fact, damages in China are so limited that plaintiffs' lawyers make every effort to litigate in foreign jurisdictions, not to mention other disadvantages such as the possibility of corruption and bias.
What explains the difference? Oliver Wendell Holmes, back in 1881, wrote that tort law is without "a theory," an overarching rationale for how it functions. "All that can be done is to point out a tendency, and to justify it." So what justifies the diverging tendencies in US and Chinese tort regimes?
One explanation for astronomical awards in the US may be that American plaintiffs do not have many avenues of redress outside of the judicial system. The other two branches of government, Congress and the Executive, generally do not concern themselves with one individual American's broken leg (or even lost pants). This, plus an adversarial system that places the onus on the plaintiff, as well as the often very high costs and hassles of pursuing a case, means that it makes a degree of sense for the system to overcompensate winning plaintiffs. It is not that Judge Bork's fall is worth a million dollars, and Judge Pearson's pants are certainly not worth $67.3 million. Rather, ...
June 18, 2007 - by Diana Wang
So China is drafting a law on outer space. That is according to Yang Liwei, China's first man in space. The purpose of the law would be to address how to "effectively protect the space environment, reduce or eradicate fragments in space and expand international cooperation".
Currently, China has no state law on space. Instead the country's activities in space are governed by several initial regulations passed jointly by several administrative agencies. Therefore, if the law is drafted and eventually implemented, then it would be the first of its kind, and that is huge.
Now, after the former Soviet Union and United States, China is only the third country in the world to send a man into space, and in 2005 it launched a second manned space flight. On top of that, in January, China launched a ground-based ballistic missile to macerate one of its own weather satellites at a distance of about 865 km above the Earth.
Impressive, yes, but at the same time this does make some wary. For some time now, China's space activities have come under increasing scrutiny. After the weather satellite was pulverized and China remained silent for 12 days before confirming the event, this certainly gained the attention of many more. And China's laws, one must acknowledge, are often as much political as legislative. Therefore, the prospect of China implementing space law raises the prospect of a heightened arms race with the U.S. and other space powers.
The rationale for a national space law is to authorize and supervise national space activities. In addition, the increase of space exploration means the expansion of the satellite communications industry as well as other space-related industries. The challenge will be to supervise both state and private space activities in a manner that does not deter investments while ensuring compliance with international law.
And on that note, it will be really interesting to see what exactly China puts into that draft and how it plans to implement it.
June 15, 2007
China's new property law has been hailed in the international press as enshrining property ownership rights. But how far do these rights really extend? This podcast explains both the rights the law grants and the limitations of these rights.
June 15, 2007 - by William Han
One of the lessons I have learned on my travels over the years is to be skeptical of groups of American students abroad, or more accurately, to be skeptical of their understanding of the countries they visit. In my experience, American students, once they gather in groups, all too often see the world with quintessentially touristic eyes.
So I shouldn't have been surprised to discover the same in the group of Yale students visiting China last month. But I was, and I found some of their accounts of the trip to be disturbing. (You can read them here) Perhaps I was too eager to think well of my own alma mater.
PRC President Hu Jintao had invited Yale to send a delegation to China back in 2006, and the university happily agreed. So last month 100 Yale faculty and students boarded a plane for Beijing. It was no ordinary visit, of course - not when you're invited by the head of state. Signs declaring "State Guests" marked their tour buses, which rode through the streets of Beijing with police escort. President Hu himself greeted them at the Great Hall of the People, and sections of the Forbidden City reserved for foreign dignitaries were opened for the benefit of these college kids.
In light of all this pomp and ceremony, I might have hoped that Yale students, subject to among the best liberal arts education that the Western World has to offer, would take a more objective and perspicacious view of what they saw. But no.
One student originally from China said this of meeting President Hu: "It was definitely an unforgettable...
June 12, 2007 - by Blawgmaster
Edward Lehman, the Managing Director of the firm, has once again been recognised as one of the most highly acclaimed legal experts in Asia in the annual Asialaw Leading Lawyers Survey.
Our heartiest congratulations and best wishes to him for his well-deserved success and unparalleled leadership.
June 14, 2007 - by Alex Clar
Being an American, my grasp of geography can be somewhat lacking. There is a quip that the U.S. goes to war so that Americans can find more countries on the map, but we've never gone to war with Guyana, so I'll admit I had to google "Guyana" when that country's embassy in Beijing invited me to a reception there. For the similarly geographically-challenged, Guyana is a small country in South America with 700,000 people, which is also the population of a medium size Chinese town.
I have to say that this was possibly one of the most eclectic events I have ever attended. This was a reception for a visiting delegation of British MBA students from the Cranfield School of Management, held at an embassy of a South American Country located in China, co-sponsored by the English law firm of DLA Piper and attended by ambassadors from Jamaica and Grenada. In addition to the students, a few other people I met included a representative of a Mexican bank, an investment banker from an Australian Bank, a German freelance journalist, a New Zealand businessman, a Chinese chemical company representative and an American who runs a steel company. Did you get all that? Yeah, I'm still scratching my head, although it turned out to be a good time.
During the party, we met the ambassador from Grenada (U.S. invaded this country in 1983, so no need to google this place). Showing my natural penchant for international diplomacy, I asked with great insightfulness, "So Mr. Ambassador, is the Grenada embassy just down the road?" Lucky for me the Grenada ambassador seemed like a real nice guy. He gave us a tourism pitch for Grenada and told us that he could get us great discounts because he was a former minister of tourism and now his brother-in-law was minister of tourism (with a country of 170,000 people, maybe everyone eventually gets to be minister of tourism). And, if I wasn't happy with my trip to Grenada he would guarantee a full refund. How about that? When was the last time you went to a country and they offered a 100% guarantee of satisfaction or your money back? In addition, the ambassador also described Grenada as...
June 12, 2007 - by Ryan Beers
A couple of weeks ago the People's Daily Online reported that Hong Kong authorities have been jailing more DVD pirates in the Hong Kong SAR. Three Hong Kong gentlemen were jailed with sentences ranging up to six years.
Now that it must be getting really hard to find pirated DVD's etc in Hong Kong with these ever-harshening penalties, those unscrupulous few with zero regard for Intellectual Property rights will probably just take a convenient trip across the border to Shenzhen, and find all of those DVD's and more in Dongmen shopping district, not 5 minutes cab ride from Luohu/Lowu station.
June 8, 2007 - by Diana Wang
According to the Guizhou Metropolitan Daily, Chinese police have detained the vice-principle of a school for deaf-mutes and other special needs children for selling 10 students to a ring that trained them to become pickpockets. The victims have been rescued, the youngest was said to be only 12. They are not alone, since 2005, hundreds of deaf-mute children have gone missing. In all likelihood, they have been sold to rings or gangs and require them to turn in a "profit" of 500 rmb per day after their training.
Sadly, pick pocketing is not the only thing the children are engaged in. Begging is also rife on the streets of the big cities. Pick any tourist spot, restaurant area, shopping street or sanlitun at night, and you are sure to see loads of children, often dirtily dressed walking around asking for money. Word is that the kids who beg on the street, sometimes alone, and sometimes with their mothers, are organized, and evidence does not seem to suggest otherwise. Take this for example, one night after dinner with some friends in sanlitun, a little boy walked up to me asking for money. Seeing that he looked hungry, I went over to the "chuanr" stand and bought him 5 lamb sticks. To my surprise, instead of eating them, he threw them away and continued asking for money. Then there are stories you hear, where the children begging on the streets are actually mutilated by their "managers" to gain passerby's sympathy. Most of the money they gain goes to their managers who give them enough food for them to survive and the money is then used to purchase more kids.
The sad truth is this, while these organizations gain profit from child exploitation, there are many out there who are going through piles of garbage, collecting plastic bottles or working in fields and mines for literally pennies. The police have vowed to crack down on these gangs that traffics children, use them and then toss them away. But the question still remains as to exactly how they are going to achieve this enormous task, because frankly, I see no decrease in the number of children scurrying around on the streets. More often than not, I am tempted to give them a 5 or 10 kuai note, but at the end of the day, I do not know if I am really helping someone in need or merely perpetuating the existence of organized crime. I know that a lot of them need the money, that 10 kuai can make a big difference. I am more than willing to give, but to whom?