The e-bulletin released by China Labour Bureau on the new Labor Arbitration Law on April 23, 2008 may be of interest to our readers:
The report is based on a detailed analysis of three work-related injury and illness cases handled by CLB as part of its Labour Rights Litigation Programme. In one case it took an injured worker over a decade to get any disability compensation. In another, it was only after a migrant worker died of leukaemia that his parents were partially compensated for the family's massive medical bills. And a former gemstone worker suffering from silicosis only received compensation after a high profile official intervention. He died six months later.
Help or Hindrance: China's Institution of Public Redress
(via China Law Mailing List
April 30, 2008, 8:58 am
Quick post with a couple of law updates:
Stamp tax has been reduced from 0.3% to 0.1% in order to encourage trading activity.
Political Bureau of CPC has ratified its five year anti-corruption plan. (I love that the government still does five year plans here.) Keywords in the plan: prevention, punishment, and education.
Macau has placed a moratorium on new casino building.
Statement: Shanghai Tobacco Regulation Office to introduce smoking ban (Chinese) to include all public indoor areas, including workplaces, taxis and government buildings.
Taiwan residents now eligible to sit for mainland exams. Details of eligibility and application process have not yet been announced, which is why we sat on this for a bit before posting it to the blog, but we'll post them later.
April 29, 2008, 11:20 am
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) has disclosed its agenda for 2008. The focus of its attention will be on "[Improving] the Socialistic Legal System with Chinese Characteristics." From China Daily:
The NPC Standing Committee will review draft amendments to 11 laws this year, including the Law on Protection of the Disabled, the Law on Insurance, the Patent Law, the Law on State Compensation, and the Electoral Law.
The draft amendment to the Law on Protection of the Disabled, which includes added details about stable financial support, better medical care and rehabilitation for the disabled, and favorable jobs and tax policies, is likely to be passed within this year, according to the work agenda. However, a date is not yet available.
Additionally, the NPC Standing committee will review seven draft laws on:
- Management of an environment-friendly economy
- Administrative enforcement
- Management of state-owned property
- Food safety
- Social insurance
- Protection of intangible cultural heritage
- Arbitration of land dispute in rural areas of the country
The China Daily report predicts that five of the above laws will be passed this year. Additionally, the Standing Committee will evaluate the efficacy of laws passed recently, including the Law on the Protection of Minors, the Law on Employment Contracts, the Law of Farmers' Specialized Cooperatives, the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment, and the Compulsory Education Law.
We often find ourselves repeating to our friends and colleagues that China's chief leaders are extremely intent on making China an ever-improving place to do business. We sincerely believe in this sentiment. Food safety, the environment, social security, rural land disputes -- all of these affect the Chinese business climate.
The Standing Committee's explicit focus this year, "Improve the Socialistic Legal System with Chinese Characteristics," is just another confirmation of this strongly-held belief. In reality, however, this has been a goal of the government for years.
April 23, 2008, 12:23 pm
By now, frequent travelers to China have probably heard that China has been tightening the restrictions on visas to China. We've been following the developments of these restrictions since late March, and now bring you a summary of the developments and what to expect in the latest Lehman, Lee & Xu China Law Digest e-newsletter:
The latest development was announced on several Chinese embassies¡¯ websites on April 14th that an original letter must now accompany applications for ¡°F¡± visas from a Chinese state organ confirming the bona fide nature of the applicant¡¯s business in China. Currently this is appearing on websites belonging to the embassies of Singapore, South Africa, Australia and the United States though it can be assumed that the policy is being applied to all countries. Compared to the prior situation where a letter from the businessperson¡¯s employer would suffice, this demonstrates a major departure from the previous situation.
As always, please feel free to contact us
with any questions regarding these recent developments in Chinese visa regulations.
April 21, 2008, 5:14 pm
The National People's Congress has vowed to publish all draft laws in order to invite public participation and comment. According to China Daily,
"The draft laws will be published on our official website (www.npc.gov.cn). If they're closely related to the interests of the people, the drafts will also be published on major newspapers," the Committee said.
Unfortunately, it appears that the draft laws are currently being published only in Chinese.
The latest draft law to be published for public comment is the Food Safety Law
, introduced on April 20, 2008.
Other draft legislation for which the NPCC is currently soliciting public comment on its website:
- Water Pollution Restrictions Amendment Bill
- Employment Promotion Law
April 21, 2008, 4:44 pm
Last night, Edward Lehman awarded the China University of Politics and Law Lehman Law Scholarship. Ten scholarships were granted to the following students: Liang Jiaolong, Liu Jiaxin, Wang Qingyu, Yin Wen, Tan Yongchao, Guo Hainan, Tang Yiqi, Zhang Yi, Liu Mei, and Qi Dan.
The scholarship winners were selected on the basis of their academic performance, community involvement, and contribution to the university.
Congratulations to this year's China University of Politics and Law Lehman Law Scholarship!
April 17, 2008, 4:32 pm
As part of its celebration of World IP day on April 26, 2008, Shanghai will hold an Intellectual Property Rights Awareness Week from April 20 to 26. The focus of this year's Intellectual Property Rights Awareness Week is on audio-visual piracy.
According to the China Intellectual Property Network (via Shanghai Intellectual Property Training Center - Chinese), all levels of government departments will be promote intellectual property protection awareness by participating in seminars, forums, and training courses; and also by advertising in all forms of broadcast, print and online media.
As part of Intellectual Property Rights Awareness Week, inspections on street vendors selling audio-visual goods will intensify with a push to destroy pirated audio-visual goods.
WIPO has an extensive listing (English-language) of the activities in Beijing and Shanghai in celebration of World IP day. Of interest is the major conference in Shanghai, but our Google searches aren't turning anything up, and the U. S. Consulate Shanghai website isn't working in our browser at the moment.
April 17, 2008, 10:41 am
Over the last few months, there has been a crackdown on local governments that illegally granted land to property developers or industrial parks. According to Xinhua/China Daily:
Chinese authorities uncovered 31,700 cases of unlawful land seizure from September 15 last year to January 15, involving a total land area of 3.364 million mu (about 224,267 hectares), said Zhang Pu, deputy director of the law enforcement and supervision bureau of the Ministry of Land and Resources, on Monday.
Nearly 60 percent of the land was used before obtaining government approval. The rest was illegally rented or misappropriated, Zhang said at a press conference.
Cooperating with local governments often isn't sufficient to guarantee the legality or safety of land or business deals: the government must be involved on all levels.
In Beijing municipality, the approval process is managed by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources
. However, all foreign-invested real estate purchases must go on record with the Ministry of Commerce, who has the final say on whether or not to approve the process.
If you have any questions about the real estate approvals process in any jurisdiction, please feel free to contact us. Meanwhile, we remind you that now might be a good time to review any land held by your company in China and keep all of your approvals and permitting up to date!
April 15, 2008, 11:31 am
We just wanted to say congrats to our colleague Sinky Tang
, who has been appointed to Shanghai Jiang'An District Court
. We wish you all the best in your new position!
April 14, 2008, 6:11 pm
After losing their lawsuit last fall in the People's High Court of Beijing, Warner Music Group, Vivendi SA and Sony Corp have turned to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry to file a suit in their behalf against two popular Chinese search engines, seeking record damages of US$9 million from Baidu and US$7.5 million from Sohu.com, according to China Daily. The suit, filed in February, was accepted this month by the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.
According to China Daily:
The lawsuits against Baidu and Sohu may make Chinese Internet companies liable for more damages. Compensation in the cases was calculated on the basis of $71,000 in damages per track, the record-industry federation says in an e-mailed statement. The $9 million being sought from Baidu is based on copyright violations for 127 songs, while the IFPI says the Web site offers links to more than 250,000 pirated tracks.
Should the suit be found in the record companies' favor, search engines' liability for links to pirated music would grow astronomically: the requested damages exceed the U. S. dollar-denominated value of the largest work-injury compensation to date, RMB 60 million shared among 148 plaintiffs
April 14, 2008, 2:52 pm
China Daily reported that the State Council approved the intellectual property strategy suggestions developed by the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee on Wednesday. The original suggestions posted to SIPO's website are here, but here's a quick rundown of the seven points in the document by China Law Blawg:
1. The goal of the national development strategies of intellectual property (IPR) rights in should be compliance with international treaties and agreements that is suitable for the China¡¯s current conditions.
The purpose of scientific development of China's intellectual property (IP) strategy is to:
- Strategically promote adjustments to the economy
- Establish the rule of law and a market
- Promote the development of advanced production capabilities
2. Formulate a unified code of IP research: a comprehensive and systematic study of IP lawmaking. Coordinate existing IP laws and related regulations. Increase protection against unfair competition.
3. Draw from foreign experiences on judicial protection by establish a unified IPR Court of Appeal, and promote administrative and judicial coordination.
4. Optimize integration of administrative resources and unify coordination between administrative bodies. Adopt Hong Kong¡¯s approach as a guide to IP protection and for guiding and supporting SMEs in the role of IPR.
5. The formulation and implementation of the IPR strategy must be easily understood: the national IP development strategy should be a model for the establishment and execution of industry¡¯s IP strategy.
6. Improve the training of intellectual property professionals. Increase conferral of master¡¯s and doctoral degrees in IPR, and increase faculty specializing in IPR. Establish "intellectual property personnel training bases." Create IP courses in science & engineering university departments.
7. Enhance IPR awareness. Reach out to all levels of the government, to the science and technology sectors, and to the general public.
Considering that the proposals explicitly stated that they're looking to foreign experiences on intellectual property legislation, it seems likely that SIPO will solicit comments on any upcoming legislation regarding an IPR Court of Appeal, as they've done on other regulations involving significant international interests. China Law Blawg will keep you updated if we hear anything about it.
April 11, 2008, 2:22 pm
We'd like to point China Blawg readers to Monday's major news, that China has signed a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand. The text of the agreement has been provided on MOFCOM's website in English and Chinese.
In general, the commitments of the Free Trade Agreement do not differ substantially from China's WTO commitments.
A Chinese-Australian Free Trade Agreement has been under discussion since 2005.
April 9, 2008, 11:25 am
We're very pleased to announce that ALB China has named us a finalist for the ALB China Law Awards Tax and Trusts Law Firm of the Year! We've won this award three years straight, from 2004 to 2007, so here's to another year of recognition for our internationally-renowned tax and trusts practice.
The ALB China Awards ceremony takes place this year at the Westin Hotel, Shanghai, on April 25, 2008. For more information about the event, please visit the ALB Awards website.
April 2, 2008, 2:33 pm