Posts tagged: Seton Hall

Margaret K. Lewis: What to Expect with China’s New CPL

By , September 23, 2012

Prof. Margaret K. Lewis

Part 1 of a two part interview series with Prof. Margaret K. Lewis

This past March, after almost a year of public comment and almost sixteen years of waiting, China’s National People’s Congress finally revised its Criminal Procedure Law. The revisions were ostensibly designed to bring China more in line with the rest of the world, providing greater rights to criminal suspects and defendants.

But while the law on paper provides some greater protections, the question remains – does it go far enough.  Will it ever go far enough given the immense power of China’s Public Security Bureau.

With the law set to go into effect in three months, on January 1, Prof. Margaret K. Lewis, associate professor of law at Seton Hall University and a noted Chinese criminal law expert, took the time to speak with China Law & Policy and explain many of the law’s new developments and many of its potential problems.  In Part One of this two part series, Prof. Lewis explains the background to China’s Criminal Procedure Law, the different stakeholder who influenced the recent revisions, a confusing new “right” against self-incrimination and the new provisions to limit confessions obtained through torture.  Will they actually work?

Click here to listen to Part 1 of this interview series with Prof. Margaret K. Lewis, or read below for transcript of Part 1.
Length: 14:35 minutes (audio will open in a seperate browser).

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EL:  Thank you for joining us today Prof. Lewis. 

ML:  My pleasure

Background on China’s Criminal Procedure Law & the Battle Over the Revisions

ELBefore we delve into the details of China’s new Criminal Procedure Law or

NPC busy at work, passing laws

what is known as the CPL, can you give our listeners some background: what exactly is a criminal procedure law?  Does the United States have anything like that? 

ML: China has both a Criminal Law and a Criminal Procedure Law or CPL that apply to the entire country. This legal system would be more familiar to students of Continental civil-law jurisdictions than to American lawyers. There is not one unified Criminal Law that applies across the U.S. because, in addition to federal criminal law, each state has its own laws.

Now, for criminal procedure, although there are laws, regulations, rules and other types of formal legal documents that shape the criminal process in the United States, we rely heavily on case law to determine what procedures are allowed.  For example, what constitutes an unreasonable search?

Importantly, in China, the Criminal Law and CPL are distinct, standalone laws with the former addressing substantive crimes and defenses—such as what constitutes theft, murder, and other crimes—and the latter addressing the process for investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating alleged criminal activity. Yet these laws are closely intertwined.

For example, use of the death penalty is first constrained by the substantive offenses for which it is a possible penalty; this now stands at fifty-five, down from sixty-eight in the pre-2011 version of the Criminal Law—not a small number.  If a person is prosecuted for a death-eligible crime, the CPL lays out the procedures that must be followed, including a final review by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) prior to execution. How China actually uses the death penalty is still largely opaque, with the number of annual death sentences and executions remaining a state secret and estimates really range widely though generally now in the several-thousand range. That said, the trend in recent years has been to constrain the scope through both through substantive and procedural reforms.

Today in China, we have a revised CPL that will go into effect as you said in a few months. The law is written at quite a high degree of abstraction. Rumors have been swirling this summer about a forthcoming interpretation from the Supreme People’s Court that will flesh out the provisions in the law.  This process happened in previous times when we had a new law and is par for the course.  Most important, we need to wait to see how government authorities actually implement the law in practice.

EL:  I feel like for at least the past six years, the Chinese government has been actively talking about revising and amending the Criminal Procedure Law, the CPL. Why did it do it now?  Why 2011, 2012?  

ML:  I would emphasize at least the past six years. It’s been a boy who’s cried wolf or a Congress who’s cried law for a long time.  It’s always difficult to read the tealeaves, but anecdotal reports indicate that there were deep-rooted differences of opinions among various stakeholders in the drafting process.   Generally speaking, the 2013 CPL retains the same structure of the previous law but expands the number of articles from 225 to 290. The revisions themselves reflect tension and compromises between the public security forces and more reform-minded academics and other individuals involved in the drafting process.

For instance, re-education through labor has long been a contentious issue.  This is a police-controlled sanction which is considered administrative, not criminal, and thus does not go through the courts as would a criminal sentence.  Yet the police can send someone away for three years with a possible one-year extension.   Reports circulated for years that China would revise re-education through labor by including it within the CPL or creating some sort of separate court review to comply with provisions in international human rights documents or just abolish it entirely. To date, none of these proposed reforms have prevailed over resistance from the public security forces and they maintain control over the re-education through labor system.

ELJust to follow up on that…so basically the two main stakeholders you think are the public security interests and then the academic interests?

ML:  Of course there are also prosecutors, there are courts.  I think the extremes are represented by the most human rights-oriented scholars—of course not all scholars agree on that—and then the real law-and-order police forces.  I think it gets more complicated when you look at prosecutors and judges: their interests can cut both ways.

A New Right Against Self-Incrimination?

ELRight, right.  In talking about the generalities, you mentioned the changes or

US' Miranda Rights find their origin in the Constitution's 5th Amendment

some of the lack of changes like re-education through labor.  But I want to focus now on something you have actually written about recently in your article Presuming Innocence, or Corruption, in China, [and] one of the big changes to the new CPL which is basically a right against self-incrimination which we find in Article 50.  Did the previous Criminal Procedure Law not provide such a right to defendants?  Is the right in the 2012 CPL similar to the right to silence that criminal suspects and defendants have in the U.S.?

ML:  The right against self-incrimination in the U.S. has a complex history and its contours are notably different than the new provisions we’re seeing in China’s CPL.

The revised CPL has neither a clear right against self-incrimination nor a clear presumption of innocence. It moves in that direction but stops short.  A way we commonly think of the right against self-incrimination is, as you say, a right to silence, which is included as part of the famous Miranda Rights [in the U.S.].  Anyone who has ever watched any TV knows those by heart.  In China, the 2012 revisions have been lauded for providing that interrogators not force people to incriminate themselves, but this welcome addition fails to provide a clear right to silence, especially when combined with the lingering requirement that suspects must answer questions truthfully. And there’s still an overt emphasis on leniency for confessions, which puts greater pressure on suspects to be forthcoming with information.

ELRight, and just to follow up on that.  I noticed that too when I looked at the new CPL, that you have this sort-of right against self-incrimination in Article 50 and then you have what is still left in the new CPL from the old CPL, is this requirement in Article 93 that the suspect answers truthfully and that the interrogator asks questions and they have to talk about their guilt or innocence, and that they answer truthfully.  How do you see those two provisions playing out, or at all? 

ML:  It is difficult to square Article 50 with Article 93. The best I can tell is suspects must answer truthfully, but interrogators are limited in the measures they can take to force people to talk. At base, this tension reflects the horse-trading that went on in the drafting process. We had more reform-minded drafters who wanted a robust right against self-incrimination but there was no way that this was going to get past the public security forces and other more law-and-order factions.

Evidence Obtained through Torture – Will it Really Be Excluded?

EL: That’s really interesting because I think a lot of people think China is just this one-party state and there isn’t these factions and there isn’t horse trading.  And it seems like in your response, you alluded to one of the bigger things that I think a lot of people are applauding which is the adoption of provisions excluding evidence obtained through torture, especially confessions.  Confessions in China are usually the basis of most convictions I believe, but correct me if I am wrong, and there has been a lot of recent stories of murder victims who appear alive and then they have to set the person free.  Can you talk more about these new provisions found primarily in Articles 54 to 58 of the new CPL?

ML:  Confessions still are king in China and certainly the easiest case for a wrongful conviction is when the alleged murder victim returns alive, as seen in the case of Zhao Zuohai.  In that case, the murder “victim” returned to the village alive after his self-confessed “murderer” had spent a decade in prison.  Obviously you don’t need DNA evidence to prove someone’s innocence when someone who is supposedly beheaded now returns to the village intact.

That case brought unprecedented public scrutiny to methods used to extract confessions. It eventually came to light that police had beaten Zhao during the interrogation process. Zhao’s case and other reports of coercion and outright physical torture prompted the release of new evidentiary rules in 2010.  That included, among other provisions, a pre-trial mechanism to challenge the admissibility of illegally obtained confessions.

These new rules have largely been incorporated into the [revised] Criminal

Zho Zuohai with a compensation check for being wrongfully convicted

Procedure Law and this has marked a step towards recognizing the extreme reliance on confessions and the concerns for abuse and mistakes that are inherent in such a one-dimensional method of evidence collection. Again, the new CPL is not yet in effect, but reports of defendants invoking the 2010 rules are few and news of successful challenges limited to at best a handful.

ELJust in trying to understand how these new provisions will work, who can actually raise the issue of a confession obtained through torture and what happens once it’s raised?  I think you mentioned a pre-trial mechanism to analyze that.

ML:  The law provides that prosecutors should conduct an investigation on their own volition if they are tipped off that investigators used unlawful methods of evidence collection [Article 55].  But should is different than will. How enthusiastic prosecutors will be using this power is subject to doubt.

Similarly, judges should conduct an investigation if they suspect that investigators used unlawful methods of evidence collection [Article. 56].

Moreover, and most interestingly, the defense may request the court to exclude the evidence gathered by unlawful means. This is a marked change from the prior Criminal Procedure Law. However, as with the 2010 Evidence Rules, it is questionable how receptive courts will be to these applications. Defense counsel is also hampered in its ability to access evidence that would prove illegal means.  And you need to have a defense lawyer who understands these rules to begin with.

There are a number of practical hurdles that stand between what the law says and what we are actually going to see in practice.

What new rights will suspects & defendants have in China's new CPL?

ELAnother interesting thing, and I don’t know how this works as much in a civil law country, the CPL does not define what is considered torture.  Even in the U.S., there are tactics used in interrogation that while rough, are not legally torture.  Are there any other regulations in China which define torture?  How will the courts go about defining torture?  I know it is a civil law system but will there be any, sort-of, common law definitions emerging for torture?

ML:  First there is an issue of translation. The phrase you often hear in Chinese—xingxun bigong [刑讯逼供] —is often translated as “extracting confessions through torture” but it uses a different word for torture than, for example, in United Nations Convention Against Torture, which is kuxing [酷刑]. Right there, sometimes there is a little bit of questioning what we are dealing with.

To my knowledge, there is no clear definition of torture in Chinese law, but that is true in other jurisdictions as well. I think one concern is that, by giving a clear definition, it can be easier for people to inflict suffering on another person and say, “But, look, what I did is not in the definition of torture.”  Sometimes there is a reason not to have the definition too clearly spelled out.

And as you point out, a related issue is what practices short of physical torture are deemed illegal; for example, coercion, lying to suspects, playing psychological games. When do interrogators cross the line from using creative, acceptable tactics to measures that society really wants to condemn.

Part 2 of the Interview to Follow

Labor Abuses in Zambia’s Chinese State-owned Copper Mines

By , February 20, 2012

While Apple’s alleged labor abuses at its factories in China have been the talk of the press – both in the U.S. and in China – ignored has been China’s labor abuses in Africa.  But two weeks ago, Seton Hall School of Law, which is quickly establishing its China law credentials in the tri-state area, hosted a timely and informative discussion on labor abuses at Chinese state-owned copper mines in Zambia.  Like western consumers – and increasingly China’s middle class – hungry to get their hands on the newest Apple product, China, with its rapid growth, is desperate for natural and mineral resources.  Seton Hall‘s event, “Labor Abuses in Zambia’s Chinese State-owned Copper Mines,” examined the issues that arise when a country uses another to feed its insatiable hunger and raised questions about what is the legal and moral responsibility of China in its Zambian mines, the responsibility of the Zambian government to its own people, and the role of the international community, which itself hasn’t shied away from exploiting African nations in a similar manner for their own gain.  Below, James J. Baber, a first-year law student at Seton Hall, reports on the February discussion. 

To listen to the audio of the entire discussion, please click here
Length: 1 hour 51 minutes

China's relations with Zambia is largely about copper

Phelim Kine on Chinese Abuses of Workers’ Rights in Zambia

By James J. Baber*

On February 6, 2012, Phelim Kine, a Senior Asia Researcher for Human Rights Watch, spoke at Seton Hall Law about his experiences investigating the business practices of Chinese corporations investing in Zambia’s copper mines.  Mr. Kine presented the official Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) report “You’ll Be Fired If You Refuse”: Labor Abuses in Zambia’s Chinese State-owned Copper Mines“.  The event was hosted by Seton Hall Law Professor Margaret K. Lewis, a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on US-China Relations.  Mr. Tom Kellogg, Program Director and Advisor to the President of Open Society Institute, also took part, offering commentary on the report.

The Human Rights Watch report details the persistent abuses in Chinese-run mines, including poor health and safety conditions, regular 12-hour and even 18-hour shifts involving arduous labor and anti-union activities, all in violation of Zambia’s national laws or international labor standards. The four Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia are subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation, a state-owned enterprise under the authority of China’s highest executive body. Copper mining is the lifeblood of the Zambian economy, contributing nearly 75 percent of the country’s exports and two-thirds of the central government revenue.

The discussion focused on HRW’s concerns regarding Chinese business practices overseas. A central question is whether the Chinese government or Chinese state-owned firms are effectively “exporting” the kinds of abuses – of labor rights and rights of freedom of expression and association that occur all-too-frequently in China – to foreign countries which are targets of Chinese investment.

Mr. Kine began by speaking about labor practices in the Chinese-run copper mines in Zambia.  China has had for some time a massive presence in Africa, and the copper mines in

Zambian copper miners

Zambia are an extension of this long-term investment.  The driving force behind this modern day scramble for Africa is a desire of the Chinese government to both secure new markets and to maintain a stable flow of resources for its rapidly expanding economy.  According to Mr. Kine, despite the badly needed foreign investment and job opportunities that the Chinese investment brings to Zambia, the relationship leaves something to be desired from the Zambian workers’ perspective.  Mr. Kine stated that the conditions in some mines were found to be a “flagrant violation of both Zambian law and international law.”  HRW interviewed numerous workers to obtain first-hand information about the miners’ working conditions.  The HRW investigators uncovered various abuses of workers’ rights, ranging from the firing of workers who refused to work in hazardous areas to the manifest reluctance of the Chinese firms to provide their workers with proper safety and protective equipment.  Despite the issues and clear dangers involved, however, few of the miners quit these jobs because of the high double-digit unemployment in Zambia.  [See CIA Handbook for a review of Zambia's economy]

In total, the HRW researchers interviewed 170 people and found three main problems: abuses of the miners’ legal rights to health and safety, violations of overtime pay requirements, and what Mr. Kine called a “pronounced anti-union sentiment” in the Chinese mines.  The miners were routinely denied access to, or left unsupplied with, personal safety equipment like protective clothing and respirators.  Mr. Kine stated that workers at the Chinese mines were also paid “one third to one sixth less than their international competitors.”  In addition, the Zambian miners were severely discouraged from associating with one of the two national unions, thereby depriving the miners of the right to associate.

After Mr. Kine concluded his initial presentation, Tom Kellogg raised additional questions and offered comments. Mr. Kellogg spoke about the common perception of the local Africans that the Zambian government encouraged the influx of Chinese investment and thus the Zambian government gave only lax scrutiny to the mines’ labor practices.

Despite the Chinese government’s history of bluntly refuting international criticism, Mr. Kellogg noted that the Chinese government is beginning to present a more evolved response to international criticism.  He specifically mentioned the detailed response of Chinese authorities with regard to the letter from HRW detailing reported issues within the mines.  Mr. Kellogg speculated on whether or not such a response would have happened five years ago.

The microphone was then returned to Mr. Kine for response.  He responded to Mr. Kellogg’s suggestion of Beijing’s possible new openness to international criticism as opposed to the traditional stonewalling.  He noted that HRW had in fact been able to speak directly with the China Nonferrous Mining Corporation in order to address alleged violations of the Zambian workers’ rights.  Mr. Kine also highlighted that all of the Zambian workers with whom HRW spoke stated that they were happy to have jobs despite complaints about the working conditions.  Zambia suffers from both high unemployment and an AIDs epidemic.  And the jobs and infrastructure provided by the Chinese companies are significant assets to the African nation.

Professor Lewis then commented that the Zambian laws regarding mining were quite good on paper but, as noted by one of the interviewees in the report, seemed to be disconnected from the reality on the ground.  Other questions revolved around whether the miners were aware of international labor laws and whether foreign consumers might play a more pronounced role in demanding better labor practices in copper mines.

Professor Lewis also commented on Beijing’s soft power push to present a new image by spreading Chinese culture through the Confucius institutes and classrooms.  The Chinese government is being more responsive to international human rights concerns, but Professor Lewis noted that the current crisis in Syria shows that Beijing is still very concerned about not being seen as promoting popular uprisings or infringing on a state’s sovereignty.

Mr. Kine then noted that the Zambian government has very limited resources at its disposal to combat the issues arising out of the Chinese-owned-and operated mine facilities.  A lack of

Workers strike at Chinese mine in Zambia

money and manpower coupled with the apparent lack of importance that the Chinese government places on human rights in its overseas endeavors is creating a very difficult situation for the Zambian miners.  However, Mr. Kine did find cause to express some hope for the future.  Recently, a Zambian government official had threatened to shut down a mine (albeit a privately invested mine, not a Chinese state-invested one) that did not conform to safety codes.  Mr. Kine thought that this action might indicate that the Zambian government will in the future be better able to provide for the safety of Zambian citizens who work in the copper mines.  Mr. Kine, in fact, called the Zambian threat to close the mine, “a shot across the bow” that may help convince the Chinese government to start toeing the line with more vigor.

The presentation concluded with a lengthy question and answer segment, in which the three experts tackled various questions both about China in general and the discussion at hand.  One questioner asked whether the Chinese companies could in fact be forced out of their mines for rampant safety violations.  Mr. Kine stated that this approach was “worth testing” because the Zambian government needs to use its leverage more directly, instead of engaging in mere fiery rhetoric. He then again referenced the renewed push by the Zambian government to assert its authority by threatening to close one of the mines.  The discussion ended on a high note, with the three presenters presenting their “wish lists” for the future of change in China.

* The author is a first-year Juris Doctor student at Seton Hall University School of Law, and received his BA in Philosophy from the University of San Francisco. Mr. Baber is a member of Seton Hall’s International Law Society.

Steven Hill on a New Beijing Consensus in UN Peace Operations

By , September 27, 2011

Last week, Seton Hall University School of Law featured an interesting and timely panel discussion on the role of China in UN peace operations.  As China rises, what role does it envision in such operations?  With its new global capacity has China moved away from a policy of non-intervention?  China’s reaction to the humanitarian intervention in Libya is indeed instructive.  Below, Zachary Kelman and Desiree Sedehi, two third-year law students at Seton Hall, report on last week’s fascinating discussion.

Steven Hill on a New Beijing Consensus in UN Peace Operations

By Zachary Kelman and Desiree Sedehi*

Steven Hill on China's role in UN peace operations

Steven Hill, Visiting Professor from 2010-2011 at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China, visited Seton Hall Law School on September 22, 2011, and spoke in a personal capacity about the research he conducted there on the subject of Chinese participation in UN peace operations. At an event hosted by Professor Margaret K. Lewis, a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on US-China Relations, and Professor Kristen E. Boon, Director of Seton Hall Law’s International Programs, he posed the following questions: How has China’s approach to international relations changed since assuming its role on the UN Security Council in the 1970s? And is China’s approach to the humanitarian intervention in Libya the harbinger of a new “Beijing Consensus”?

In his presentation, Mr. Hill discussed the evolution of China’s approach to foreign relations, from the “Molotov cocktail-throwing revolutionaries” of the early 70s to the top contributor to peacekeeping missions among the five permanent members of the Security Council. According to Mr. Hill, this movement signals a shift from “non-intervention” to “tolerance, maybe even some enthusiasm and engagement.”

Mr. Hill recounted for his audience how, from when the People’s Republic of China regained China’s seat in the UN in 1971 until the 1990s, China had been largely detached from UN peacemaking activities.

Mr. Hill noted that China’s “traditional approach” to UN peacekeeping privileges stressed the importance of non-intervention. While China’s position has evolved considerably as it applies to UN peace operations, shades of it can be seen, for example, in Ambassador Li Baodong’s 2011 statement that the international community should “respect the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity” of Libya.

Hill further noted, importantly, that in spite of this rhetorical deference to sovereignty, China abstained from voting on UNSCR 1973—an abstention which was instrumental in authorizing the largely European-led intervention in Libya. China’s rhetoric led many commentators to believe that it would vote against the resolution. However, China’s ultimate abstention has been seen by many to symbolize its larger shift from a non-aligned power to a global power that has a substantial stake in the international community.

According to Mr. Hill, that China felt it necessary to evacuate 36,000 workers from Libya due to this humanitarian crisis featured prominently in its decision on how to vote on the Libya resolutions. Moreover, China’s growing stake in the international community means increased interest in avoiding catastrophic scenarios, and hence likely a more active China on the global scene.

That being said, Mr. Hill cautioned against unbridled optimism with respect to China’s “new role.”  He noted that China made every effort to defer to traditional notions of national—and then regional—self-determination. This position was evidenced by China’s acknowledgment of Arab League and African Union positions.  In addition, China reserved abstention as a “special circumstance” and was careful not to set precedent. This cautiousness, said Mr. Hill, exemplifies China’s broader attitude toward UN peacekeeping—the possible emerging “Beijing Consensus”—to promote a limited “blue helmet” approach within the general understanding of military procedure, but to avoid “nation building” and other more interventionist forms of intervention. Whether this approach will change to a more progressive humanitarian attitude, as held by some of China’s Western counterparts on the Security Council, remains to be seen.

After Mr. Hill’s presentation, both Professors Lewis and Boon offered commentary to the audience. Professor Lewis,

Steven Hill & Margaret Lewis discuss the Beijing Consensus at Seton Hall Law School

who recently appeared before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in a roundtable discussion on the “Current Conditions for Human Rights Defenders and Lawyers in China, and Implications for U.S. Policy,” raised China’s need for global stability for the safety of its investments as an impetus for its increased role in UN peace operations. Professor Lewis further emphasized that China’s increased participation in UN peacekeeping efforts may be improving its reputation in the eyes of the international community. Such positive reputational benefits could encourage China’s future involvement.

Professor Boon, who has written extensively on the UN and the Security Council, suggested it might be wise for the US to rethink its skepticism towards international institutions, given the growing influence of China.  The United Kingdom took the approach in the 20th century of placing greater emphasis on international institutions. As its national power waned relative to the rising US, it has maintained a far more powerful seat in global affairs than it would have if it had not actively engaged in international institutions. The US has an opportunity to solidify its interests in the current international legal and political order, which could serve it well in the future. Professor Boon also highlighted the importance of the new Draft Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations, and suggested that these could affect the willingness of permanent Security Council members to engage in new endeavors as much as a new “Beijing Consensus.”

Following their commentary, both Professors Lewis and Boon invited the audience to ask questions and provide comments. Professor Michael Ambrosio of Seton Hall Law School asked Mr. Hill to comment on the success and efficiency of China’s participation in UN peacekeeping, and to rate China’s involvement. Mr. Hill responded that he would rate China’s increased participation quite high, and noted that China has provided crucial assistance in terms of medical and engineering troops, police units, and military observers to UN missions around the world. Mr. Hill emphasized the dire need for police units and explained that China’s assistance in this capacity was especially successful because it was so necessary.

* The authors are both third-year Juris Doctor students at Seton Hall University School of Law. Mr. Kelman is also a Deborah T. Poritz Fellow and Ms. Sedehi is the former president of Seton Hall’s International Law Society.

NYC Event – A New Beijing Consensus in UN Peacekeeping Operations

By , September 15, 2011

China's UN Peacekeepers - Expect to See More

As China emerges as a global power, the question arises: what role will it play in the UN, especially in peacekeeping operations?  Since first re-emerging on the world stage in 1978, China has maintained a philosophy of noninterference in other countries’ domestic affairs, making China’s involvement in peacekeeping operations limited.

But more recently, China has begun to step up to the plate in UN peacekeeping operations, sending non-combat PLA soldiers to assist with such effort.  In March 2011, Beijing issued a white paper on the matter, commending its troops for serving in UN peacekeeping operations and stating that such a role is important for a “responsible party.”

So why the change?  And how will China move forward?  Noted China law professor Margaret K. Lewis will examine these developments and discuss China’s future role with Steven Hill, Counselor for Legal Affairs at the United States Mission to the United Nations, at an event next Thursday at Seton Hall Law School.   All are welcomed to attend; RSVPs (to get a sense of numbers) are very much appreciated; for lawyers in the house, the event will provide 2.0 hr NJ/NY CLE.

***RSVP HERE: http://law.shu.edu/About/News_Events/new-beijing-rsvp.cfm ***

A New Beijing Consensus in UN Peacekeeping Operations
Featuring Steven Hill, Counselor for Legal Affairs at the United States Mission to the United Nations
with Comments by Prof. Margaret K. Lewis, Seton Hall Law School

Thursday, September 22, 2011
4 pm – 6pm
Seton Hall Law School, 5th Floor Faculty Library
1 Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102
(2 minute walk from Newark Penn Station which has the Path & NJ Transit)

INVITATION TO BLOG – China Law & Policy’s staff will be out of town next week; anyone interested in blogging about the event please contact me at elynch@chinalawandpolicy.com This is an interesting event and should provide for a stimulating blog post.  Thank you in advance.

Ambassador Huntsman Discusses U.S.-China Relations – A Review

By , October 19, 2010

Steve Orlins of the National Committee on U.S. China Relations interviews Amb. Jon Huntsman

Last night’s China Town Hall, a live webcast sponsored by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and hosted by various educational institutions throughout the United States, fell short of expectations.   Featuring U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, the conversation was anything but a frank discussion on the current difficulties in U.S.-China relations.  Instead, the evening had the stale air of political-speak and left one wondering, who exactly was the audience for this event?  But although Ambassador Huntsman’s comments were largely staged, a few key highlights emerged.

Interestingly, the audience was not the American public.  From Ambassador Huntsman’s answers, it appeared to be the Chinese leadership.  Many, if not most of his substantive comments responded to some of the Chinese leadership’s issues in U.S.-China relations, notably their fears on human rights and currency. Ambassador Huntsman began his comments by focusing on the importance of dialogue in the U.S.-China relation and the very real need of greater understanding of each other’s countries and their particularities.  It’s true that most Americans’ views of China are not the most informed and the culture is a bit of an enigma to many but, as the Ambassador pointed out, the same holds true for most Chinese on their views of American culture.

Ambassador Huntsman continued with his plea for greater understanding between the two nations by raising the issue of human rights.  According to Ambassador Huntsman, the Chinese need to understand that human rights is an important issue to Americans; it is a part of who we are, and that is why we always raise it in bi-lateral discussions.  This is certainly the conciliatory route to take in addressing the very prickly issue of human rights in China and it appears to be the strategy purposefully chosen by the Obama Administration.  President Obama took this approach in his Shanghai Town Hall address last November and the same rhetoric emerged after the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue this past spring.

But one wonders – is this effective?  Or by claiming that human rights is a part

June 1989 - Tank Man

of our – e.g. the American or the Western culture – does this rhetoric cheapen the call for universal human rights?  If human rights is universal, then why must we couch the call for it in cultural terms?  And why is there never a reminder from the Obama Administration about China’s commitment, both on the government and individual levels, to human rights?  China has signed various international human rights treaties and many of her people clamor for greater human rights.  Back in June 1989, many died for it.

For now at least, this cultural contexting of human rights appears to be the strategy in dealing with the call for greater human rights in China.  So don’t expect to see any developments on this front with the current Administration; instead, expect human rights to painted as a peculiar particularity of the American culture; something the Chinese will just have to understand about us, sort of like how we like baseball while the rest of the world is crazy for soccer.

But on a more positive note, Ambassador Huntsman used the China Town Hall to signal to the Chinese leadership that it needs to do something about its currency, and quickly.  Although initially complementing the Chinese leadership on allowing the currency to float, Ambassador Huntsman continuously stressed the need for China to allow it to float more rapidly, heavily implying that retaliation from any angry Senate would be sure to follow.  While the Treasury Department has again delayed its report that determines which country is a currency manipulator, the Ambassador’s veiled comments seemed to hint that the U.S. government might be getting closer to taking action on currency.

Ambassador Huntsman shone though on the final question of the night from an audience member in China (likely at the American Chamber of Commerce which was the only organization hosting a webcast within China) about China as a hot-button campaign issue.  Instead of referring to some of the recent campaign ads as mere “anti-China rhetoric,” Ambassador Huntsman noted

Sen. Sherrod Brown

that many of the issues raised recently during the election cycle are important issues and should be addressed.  Interestingly, the New York Times ran two op-eds on Monday intelligently discussing the issues (Paul Krugman and Sherrod Brown); each noting that what is good for American business interests in China is not necessarily what’s good for America.  But Ambassador Huntsman did note that the danger is relegating China issues to a 15 second ad and hoped that once people are elected, that Congress should have a deeper conversation about China.  Evidently Ambassador Huntsman has been out of the country too long; Congress, on both sides of the aisle, appears incapable to discuss any issues deeply, if at all.  And it doesn’t appear that the U.S. government – including Congressmembers and Senators – ever have an interest in hiring staff that actually knows anything about China.  While Ambassador Huntsman is right that these issues do need to be discussed intelligently and sincerely, good luck with resting your hope with Congress.

Although the message from the China Town Hall was less than frank, it was still good that the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations sponsored this event – it provides insight into the U.S.’ relationship with China.  Additionally, the sponsoring educational institutions each hosted a talk, either before or after the Ambassador, discussing more recent developments in China.  At Seton Hall School of Law’s China Town Hall, organized by Prof. Margaret K. Lewis, Prof. Carl Minzner gave the keynote speech.  An expert on legal and political reform in China, Prof. Minzner spoke much more frankly about China’s future course, especially as it pertains to greater rights protection of its citizens.  Prof. Minzner’s speech will be analyzed in a future blog post.  Stay tuned!

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