Aaron Halegua. Marianas Variety. "The Need for Meaningful Oversight"

Aaron Halegua. Marianas Variety. "The Need for Meaningful Oversight"

We are individuals and groups concerned by the labor abuses that transpired at the Imperial Pacific construction site.

The confiscation of worker passports, failure to pay workers the minimum wage, high rates of injury and even deaths, and retaliation against complaining workers have all been well-documented. In order to prevent future exploitation, we support the proposal to establish an independent and transparent monitoring mechanism in which the voice of workers and their representatives plays a crucial role.

Read More

Aaron Halegua. Open Democracy. "Sexual harassment at Walmart’s stores and suppliers in China"

Aaron Halegua. Open Democracy. "Sexual harassment at Walmart’s stores and suppliers in China"

A coalition of labor groups, including Global Labor Justice and the Asian Floor Wage Alliance, issued a report last month documenting extensive sexual violence and harassment at Walmart apparel supplier factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia. In the study, ‘Gender Based Violence in the Walmart Garment Supply Chain’, women also reported retaliation when they refused sexual advances or complained about the mistreatment. The findings are based on interviews with 250 workers in 60 factories over a six year period.

Read More

Ira Belkin & Sida Liu. Professional Ethics for the Criminal Defense Lawyer: A Transcript of a Discussion Comparing the Rules and Practice in China and the United States

Ira Belkin & Sida Liu.  Professional Ethics for the Criminal Defense Lawyer: A Transcript of a Discussion Comparing the Rules and Practice in China and the United States

In 2012, the revisions to the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law strengthened key procedural rights of defendants, including the right to conduct an independent investigation into the facts of a case and the right to request a special hearing to exclude “illegally collected” evidence. Yet with an expansion of rights comes a concomitant expansion of defense lawyers’ professional and ethical responsibility.

Read More

Aaron Halegua & Yizhi Huang. ChinaFile. "What Is the Significance of China’s #MeToo Movement?"

As the #MeToo movement has swept America, it has also made waves in greater China. On the mainland, the most widely publicized incident involved Luo Xixi’s allegation in a January 2018 Weibo post that her professor at Beihang University, Chen Xiaowu, sexually harassed her over a decade ago. The allegation lead to Chen’s dismissal. Since then, Chinese women have organized at least 70 open letters to universities and have posted some of their stories of sexual harassment on social media, with the #MeToo hashtag attracting over 4.5 million hits on Weibo. The government has tried to suppress some of this, blocking the #MeToo hashtag and deleting posts, and China’s social media movement has had difficulty moving “offline,” as it has outside of China. Nonetheless, some Chinese officials have acknowledged that sexual harassment is a problem and are discussing how universities and government agencies should respond. Hong Kong women have similarly been taking to social media to air their grievances.

The following conversation, organized by Aaron Halegua, a lawyer and research fellow at NYU School of Law, addresses the significance of the #MeToo movement from a variety of perspectives, including its impact on sexual harassment litigation and worker protections; implications for youth, feminist, and LGBTQ movements; the role of public interest lawyers in social movements; and the push for gender equality in Hong Kong. —The Editors

Read Aaron Halegua and Yizhi Huang's Comments here: http://www.chinafile.com/conversation/what-significance-of-chinas-metoo-movement

Alvin Y.H. Cheung. ChinaFile. Who's to Blame for Hong Kong's Weakening Rule of Law?

January 23, 2018

Rimsky Yuen, Hong Kong’s third Secretary for Justice, stepped down in early January. He leaves his department, and the city’s reputation for rule of law, markedly worse than they were when he took office in July 2012.

According to the Department of Justice’s website, the Secretary for Justice’s role is to act as “guardian of the public interest in a wider sense.” Yet Yuen’s tenure has been marked by attempts to wield the law against political opponents, a refusal to defend the courts from unfair and racially-charged criticism or Beijing’s attempts to strip them of their power, and a steady attack on the foundations of Hong Kong’s constitutional order. Far from fulfilling his constitutional duty to speak up for the rule of law in Hong Kong, he has been a willing collaborator in Beijing’s sustained campaign to undermine it.

Read More

USALI Affiliated Professor Eva Pils Quoted in Guardian Article

April 28, 2017

China convicts rights lawyer Li Heping of 'subversion of state power'

Li, once told that China considered him ‘more dangerous than Bin Laden’, sentenced in secret trial to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve

A respected Christian human rights lawyer has been convicted of “subversion of state power” at a secret trial in China, almost two years after he was first detained in a sweeping crackdown.

Li Heping was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve, the court in the eastern city of Tianjin said on an official social media account, meaning he should be released but could be arrested and jailed at any point.

The trial was held behind closed doors on Tuesday because “the case involved state secrets”, the court said, but was only announced along with the verdict on Friday.

 

'I want to rescue my dad': children's heartbreak for the lawyers China has taken away

Li was swept up in a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers and activists in July 2015, where police detained or questioned about 250 people. Since assuming power, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has launched a new wave of attacks on activists and the lawyers who defend them.

Li’s case drew attention around the world, and EU officials, as well as the embassies of 11 countries, called for his claims of torture while in custody to be investigated. His wife has said authorities used electric shocks on him.

“A suspended sentence does not mean he’s free until we actually get to see him and he’s allowed to speak freely, and given what we’ve seen in the past that probably won’t happen,” said Eva Pils, a professor at King’s College London and longtime friend of Li.

“It was a secret trial so we don’t know what state he is in,” Pils added. “In addition to our usual concerns about torture and physical health, I’m worried that this entire process may have robbed him of his mental health, especially after what they’ve apparently done to his brother.”

Li’s younger brother, Li Chunfu, emerged from 500 days of secret detention in January and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to his family.

Li became well known for defending the disenfranchised, including Christian house churches, victims of forced evictions and free speech advocates. He worked within the scope of China’s legal system, rather than taking to the streets in protest. One Chinese security agent reportedly once told Li that the state considered him “more dangerous than Bin Laden”.

Although Li is likely to be released in the coming weeks, he has already spent more than 20 months in detention. At least 11 activists who received suspended sentences disappeared shortly after they were released, with some forced to undergo months of political education classes before being placed under house arrest by local police, according to human rights groups.

The court’s verdict was seen as a warning to other activists, and included a catalogue of vague charges, without citing any specific examples of illegality.

“The court ruled that since 2008, the defendant Li Heping repeatedly used the internet and foreign media interviews to discredit and attack state power and the legal system,” the court said. The court also accused Li of accepting foreign funds and employing paid defendants.

A lawyer hired by Li’s family to defend him was rejected by authorities and he was ultimately given a government appointed lawyer, an increasing trend in political prosecutions.

The conviction came on the same day that another civil rights lawyer, Xie Yang, was set to go on trial, but it was later cancelled.

Read the full article here.

USALI Affiliated Professor Eva Pils Quoted in Reuters Article

June 5, 2017

China activists fear increased surveillance with new security law

By Christian Shepherd

(Refiles this May 25 story to add "Chinese" to advocacy group's name in paragraph 13.)

By Christian Shepherd

Chinese activists say they fear intensified state surveillance after a draft law seeking to legitimize monitoring of suspects and raid premises was announced last week, the latest step to strengthen Beijing's security apparatus.

Half a dozen activists contacted by Reuters say they already face extensive surveillance by security agents and cameras outside their homes. Messages they post on social media, including instant messaging applications like WeChat are monitored and censored, they said.

The draft of a new law to formally underpin and possibly expand China's intelligence gathering operations at home and abroad was released on May 16.

However, the law was vaguely worded and contained no details on the specific powers being granted to various state agencies.

"State intelligence work should...provide support to guard against and dispel state security threats (and) protect major national interests," the document said.

The law will give authorities new legal grounds to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and bodies in order to protect national security, it said.

Public consultation for the draft ends on June 4. It is unclear when the final version may be passed.

Hu Jia, a well-known dissident, said the release was met with fear and despair in his circle of reform-minded activists, where it was seen as a sign of strengthening resolve in the ruling Communist Party to crush dissent.

"Before, the party acted in secret, but now they have confidence to openly say: 'We are watching you'," Hu told Reuters.

"The law is also partly to frighten people ahead of the 19th Party Congress; to tell them to be careful, to be quiet," he added. Hu was referring to the once in five years congress of the Communist Party likely to be held in October or November in which President Xi Jinping is likely to further cement his hold on power by appointing allies into the party's inner core.

Read the entire article here.

Margaret K. Lewis. ChinaFile Conversation. "The World Is Deserting Taiwan. How Should the U.S. Respond?"

On June 14, USALI Affiliated Professor was featured in a ChinaFile Conversation. Below is an excerpt from the conversation which featured several experts. 

On June 12, the small Central American nation of Panama announced it was severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan so that it could establish relations with the People’s Republic of China. Now, only 19 countries and the Vatican recognize Taiwan. Why did this happen? How does it affect Taiwan’s relationship with the mainland? Should the United States get involved in preventing the further diplomatic isolation of Taiwan? —The Editors

From Margaret K. Lewis: The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took back power last year on an upbeat campaign that it would “Light up Taiwan” (點亮台灣), but President Tsai Ing-wen must be feeling anything but sunny at this moment.

The president continues to struggle in opinion polls, with the economy remaining a point of deep concern: compared with many of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies, Panama was a fairly large trading partner. Yes, the loss of diplomatic relations with Panama will have a small effect on Taiwan’s total foreign trade. Yet it is notable as another straw on the proverbial camel’s back, building on other economic pressure from Beijing, such as moves to curb mainland visitors that provide crucial tourism revenue in Taiwan.

The diplomatic mood with the mainland is dreary as well. Combined with the loss of diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe in December 2016, Panama’s diplomatic switch signals an unfortunate return to the days of “dollar diplomacy” where China and Taiwan used economic sticks and carrots to woo diplomatic allies. It is unlikely that Beijing will relax its pressure as long as Tsai stands firm in her refusal to recognize the “1992 consensus”—a political formula recognized by her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, under which both sides of the Strait acknowledged that Taiwan and the Mainland are part of “one China” but maintained their own interpretations of what that meant. Indeed, there threaten to be darker days ahead if the recent criminal subversion charges by China against Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che indicates future trends.

I question the wisdom and efficacy of the United States getting directly involved in bilateral relations between Taiwan and its remaining diplomatic allies. Instead, the United States should focus on how to increase Taiwan’s international space in key multilateral institutions for which statehood is not a prerequisite, because it is in the United States’ interests. In particular, the United States should continue to press for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO). In May, Beijing once again blocked Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the WHO. Pathogens do not care about diplomacy: Leaving Taiwan outside of the WHO hampers the international community’s ability to prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks.

Taiwan is also shut out of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This exclusion is especially concerning considering Taiwan’s position in an extremely busy section of East Asian airspace. The bottom line is that including Taiwan in international health and air-traffic safety is good for the safety of American citizens (not to mention Chinese citizens, as well), which is good reason for the United States to press Beijing to remove the obstacles it places in Taiwan’s path. Perhaps it is time for a new slogan: “Lighten up on Taiwan.”

Read the entire article here.

Peter Dutton. Isaac B. Kardon. LawFare. "Forget the FONOPs — Just Fly, Sail and Operate Wherever International Law Allows"

Written by Affiliated Professors Peter A. Dutton and Isaac B. Kardon

On May 24, the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) operated within 12 nautical miles (nm) of Mischief Reef, a disputed feature in the South China Sea (SCS) controlled by the People’s Republic of China, but also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Dewey’s action evidently challenged China’s right to control maritime zones adjacent to the reef —which was declared by the South China Sea arbitration to be nothing more than a low tide elevation on the Philippine continental shelf.  The operation was hailed as a long-awaited “freedom of navigation operation” (FONOP) and “a challenge to Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea,” a sign that the United States will not accept “China’s contested claims” and militarization of the Spratlys, and a statement that Washington “will not remain passive as Beijing seeks to expand its maritime reach.” Others went further and welcomed this more muscular U.S. response to China’s assertiveness around the Spratly Islands to challenge China’s “apparent claim of a territorial sea around Mischief Reef…[as well as] China’s sovereignty over the land feature” itself.

But did the Dewey actually conduct a FONOP? Probably—but maybe not. Nothing in the official description of the operation or in open source reporting explicitly states that a FONOP was in fact conducted. Despite the fanfare, the messaging continues to be muddled. And that is both unnecessary and unhelpful.

In this post, we identify the source of ambiguity and provide an overview of FONOPs and what distinguishes them from the routine practice of freedom of navigation. We then explain why confusing the two is problematic—and particularly problematic in the Spratlys, where the practice of free navigation is vastly preferable to the reactive FONOP. FONOPs should continue in routine, low-key fashion wherever there are specific legal claims to be challenged (as in the Paracel Islands, the other disputed territories in the SCS); they should not be conducted—much less hyped up beyond proportion—in the Spratlys. Instead, the routine exercise of freedom of navigation is the most appropriate way to use the fleet in support of U.S. and allied interests.

Read the entire article here.

Margaret K. Lewis. CFR. "What Would Trump Do if There Were Another Tiananmen Incident?"

May 31, 2017

Margaret K. Lewis is a professor of law at Seton Hall University School of Law and a Fulbright research fellow at National Taiwan University School of Law.

As the world reflects on this week’s anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent violent crackdown by the PRC government, it is worth contemplating what President Donald J. Trump would do if faced with a similar situation. When asked about Tiananmen during the campaign, Trump said he was not “endorsing” China’s response, but he called the demonstrations a “riot.” Would President Trump see a riot or a massacre if the events of June 4, 1989, were replayed today?

The U.S. bombing raid in April that President Trump linked to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians suggested that human rights would be prominent in shaping foreign policy. Yet President Trump’s remarks during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and praise for leaders with deeply problematic human rights records, such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, caution otherwise.

Specifically regarding China, in March 2016 the Obama administration joined eleven other countries in issuing a rare statement expressing “concern[ ] about China’s deteriorating human rights record” and calling on China “to uphold its laws and its international commitments.” The United States was noticeably absent a year later when eleven countries—including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom—sent a letter to the Chinese government expressing “growing concern over recent claims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in cases concerning detained human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders.”

The Trump administration is admittedly not breaking the mold: U.S. government policy towards China has always been, at least to some degree, pragmatic. President Jimmy Carter entered office with human rights as a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Nonetheless, even he recognized the United States’ many interests when dealing with China and normalized relations. President George H. W. Bush suspended military contracts and technology exchanges with China following the Tiananmen Square massacre. President Bill Clinton, however, restored China’s most favored nation trading status four years later and quickly relaxed rhetoric that China must make significant progress towards conforming with international human rights standards.

While the tension between principles and pragmatism is not new in U.S. policy towards China, the current dismissive attitude towards human rights is jarring. The past four months indicate that policy decisions based on immediate economic and security calculations will prevail over long-held human rights values. As I have argued elsewhere, this is a mistake. Addressing human rights in both a principled and pragmatic way requires not just stating that human rights matter in the abstract but also articulating an integrated, executive-branch-wide plan for how human rights will be raised in various contexts.

Read the entire article here.

Erin Murphy. New York Times. Sessions Is Wrong to Take Science Out of Forensic Science

On April 11, 2017 NYU Law Professor and USALI Affiliated Scholar Erin Murphy published a piece in the New York Times about DNA forensics and the importance of science within the criminal justice system. Below is an excerpt from the article, with a link to the full-length article below.

 

Prosecutors applauded the April 10 announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice was disbanding the nonpartisan National Commission on Forensic Science and returning forensic science to law enforcement control. In the same statement, Mr. Sessions suspended the department’s review of closed cases for inaccurate or unsupported statements by forensic analysts, which regularly occur in fields as diverse as firearm and handwriting identification, and hair, fiber, shoe, bite mark and tire tread matching, and even fingerprinting analysis.

If all you knew about forensic science was what you saw on television, you might shrug off this news, believing that only the most sophisticated and well-researched scientific evidence is used to solve and prove crimes. But reality is different.

D.N.A.-exoneration cases have exposed deep flaws in the criminal justice system’s use of forensic science. Reforms have not come easy, but slow and plodding progress has been made. In 2005, the F.B.I. said that it would no longer conduct bullet-lead examinations after a review panel found matches essentially meaningless. A blue-ribbon panel of the National Academy of Sciences raised the same concern in a 2009 report that found nearly every familiar staple of forensic science scientifically unsound.

Prompted in part by that report, the Justice Department initiated a review of thousands of cases involving microscopic matching of hair samples. In 2015, the F.B.I. announced its shocking initial findings: In 96 percent of cases, analysts gave erroneous testimony. At a meeting last spring of the commission that Mr. Sessions just disbanded, the department said it would expand the view to include a wider array of forensic disciplines.

With the announcement by Mr. Sessions, this momentum comes to a screeching halt. Although forensic science would seem a low priority for an incoming attorney general, it is not altogether surprising that it was in Mr. Sessions’s sights. As a senator (and former prosecutor), Mr. Sessions made forensic science a priority. He sponsored and shepherded to passage the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Act of 2000, which remains the signature federal funding mechanism for state all-purpose forensic labs. That might suggest that Mr. Sessions would care about the integrity of forensic science, but his enthusiasm has been for more — not better — forensic evidence. When the National Academy of Sciences’ scathing report was released, Senator Sessions simply waved it away, remarking, “I don’t think we should suggest that those proven scientific principles that we’ve been using for decades are somehow uncertain” — ignoring the panel of experts who had concluded just that.

Continue reading here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/opinion/sessions-is-wrong-to-take-science-out-of-forensic-science.html

USALI Affiliated Scholar Eva Pils Quoted in Washington Post Article

A broken lawyer and a hawkish judge cast deep pall over China’s legal system

January 2017

Read the entire article here.

BEIJING — For 500 days, Li Chunfu, once a lively and tough human rights lawyer, was kept in secret detention by China’s Communist Party. When he was finally released on Jan. 12, his wife was so shocked she could hardly believe her eyes.

Her 44-year-old husband was a thin, pale and sick man, Bi Liping said, a fearful and paranoid person who seemed to have been broken by the system.

A Beijing hospital soon gave him a tentative diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Li was one of 300 lawyers and advocates who were rounded up in a crackdown in July 2015. Most were soon released, but two have been sentenced and four remain in detention.

In statements to the China Change website, relatives and fellow lawyers said Li had been severely tortured and drugged during detention.

But his story is not the only one to have cast a shadow over the rule of law in China this month.

In a remarkable speech two days after Li’s release, the chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court told provincial judges to resist “erroneous” Western ideals of judicial independence, constitutional democracy and the separation of powers.

“One needs to have a clear-cut stand and dare to show the sword against them, to struggle against any erroneous words and actions that deny the leadership of the Communist Party, or slander the rule of law and the judicial system of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Zhou Qiang said.

While the idea that the Communist Party is in firm control of the legal system is hardly new, to see the idea of judicial independence so explicitly condemned by the country’s top judge, a man once seen as a reformer keen on limiting officials’ power over local courts, came as a shock to many people.

Two open letters expressing outrage at Zhou’s remarks are circulating, one signed by 23 lawyers and another signed by 155 leading liberal intellectuals.

“In the past few years, the legal community has been working hard toward establishing an independent judicial system,” said Lin Liguo, a former lawyer based in Shanghai who wrote the lawyers’ letter.

Lin said Zhou’s remarks had burst reformers’ optimism. “What Zhou said is basically that we don’t need judicial independence at all,” he said. “That’s why people are so upset.”

[China’s Communist leaders promise legal reforms — under party authority]

At a key meeting in October 2014, the party’s top leaders promised to give judges more independence from interference by local officials, and President Xi Jinping has often pledged to strengthen the rule of law — while at the same time underlining that the Communist Party remains firmly in control and effectively above the law.

Yet such was the controversy stirred by Zhou’s remarks that the Supreme Court issued five separate social media posts last week, each hundreds of words long, explaining and amplifying his remarks. At first, they attracted hundreds of comments from ordinary people, until censors shut down the comment function.

In a blog post, Jerome Cohen, an expert in Chinese law at New York University School of Law, called it “the most enormous ideological setback for decades of halting, uneven progress toward the creation of a professional, impartial judiciary.”

He said there was “enormous dissatisfaction among many judges at the restrictive, anti-Western legal values being imposed by President Xi Jinping, with many younger officials leaving the courts and procuracy for work in law firms, business and teaching.”

Eva Pils, an expert in transnational law at King’s College London, said Zhou’s speech came as a “real shock” to people in the legal system who had been educated to believe that China was striving for better rule of law and who found it unacceptable that their country was “departing so completely and so rapidly from the reform path.”

It is, in other words, one more nail in the coffin of the idea that China’s legal and political system would ultimately move in a more liberal direction, experts said.

“I think that lots of people are still in denial about this departure from the reform path, and the turn to rule by fear, and that they are unwilling to consider the full implications of the new rhetoric,” Pils said.

Experts said Zhou may have come under pressure to publicly declare his loyalty to the party, especially as a team from the Communist Party’s anti-corruption arm had been reportedly carrying out an inspection of the Supreme Court since ­mid-November. Ensuring his appointment was renewed at a major party Congress in October may have played a part, they said.

But Zhou’s words still came across as particularly strident, as he insisted on the importance of “ideological work” and recommended judges “severely strike” at people who use the Internet to endanger national security — code for undermining the Communist Party.

He also recommended judges protect the images of leaders, heroes and historical figures, “to resolutely safeguard the glorious history of the Party and the People’s Army.”

Zhou’s warning echoes Xi’s campaign against “historical nihilism” — questioning the Communist Party’s heroic account of its own history. In the past few weeks alone, a Chinese professor and a government official were both sacked, and a TV producer was suspended, for criticizing Mao Zedong, who is officially revered as the founder of modern China even though he presided over the deaths of tens of millions of people in a famine during the Great Leap Forward and unimaginable cruelty during the Cultural Revolution.

The case of the lawyer Li has underlined what happens to people who dare to challenge the party.

Li grew up poor in China’s central Henan province. He dropped out of school at 14 to work in factories but spent six grueling years studying in his spare time to follow in his brother’s footsteps and become a lawyer.

Maya Wang at Human Rights Watch said it was unclear what he was supposed to have done wrong — perhaps demonstrating outside a police bureau in Heilongjiang in 2014 to demand access to his client, perhaps being the brother of Li Heping, a well-known civil rights lawyer who was also detained in July 2015, or perhaps simply being tarred as an agent of a hostile foreign government.

But what broke him is no mystery, she said in a statement, citing how suspects are frequently beaten, hung by their wrists and deprived of sleep, as well as subjected to indefinite isolation and threats to their families.

 

Aaron Halegua Publishes New Report on Chinese Workers

In the past decade, China has made considerable progress in legislating new legal protections for workers, expanding their access to arbitration and courts, and paying for more lawyers to represent them. Nonetheless, in China, as elsewhere, labor violations persist and a substantial “representation gap” remains between legal needs and services.
 

Read More

Eva Pils. Jane Henderson. King's Law Journal. "BREXIT and International Relations: The Impact of Brexit on Relations with Russia and China."

In autumn 2016 Affiliated Professor Eva Pils co-published the artile considering the likely impact of Brexit on relations between the United Kingdom, China, and Russia.

INTRODUCTION

This paper considers the likely impact of Brexit on the relations between the United Kingdom and two significant states on the world stage: Russia, which is physically the largest, and heir to one of the Cold War superpowers, and China, which is the most populous, and which some think may be the next superpower. In discussing this impact, we also address how Brexit affects the EU’s relationship with Russia and China.

This question can be conveniently considered from three different (though interacting) perspectives. First, what impact will the change in Britain’s EU status have on individual Russian/Chinese or UK citizens wishing to travel to, invest in or trade with the other state? Secondly, what change is likely between Russia/China and Britain on a state-to-state level? Finally, both the UK and Russia/China belong to some important international organisations; will Britain leaving the EU impact on its place in these other organisations in relation to Russia or China?
 

A. Russia

England (and later, the UK) and Russia have a long history of interaction, sometimes as friend, sometimes as foe. Tsar Ivan Grozny (Ivan the Terrible) would have liked to have married Queen Elizabeth I (or failing that, one of her maids in waiting) but was refused. The first Russian Emperor, Peter the Great, stayed in London from January to April 1698. As during his preceding visit to the Netherlands, he worked in the dockyards to learn about shipbuilding. (He also had some notoriously drunken parties.) This led to a sadly brief period of unprecedentedly warm relations between Britain and Russia. During the following century, Jeremy Bentham’s works were of interest to Prince Potemkin, one of the lovers of Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great). In early nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries respectively the desires of Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler to expand their empires put Russia on the same side as Britain; in the 1850s during the Crimean War they opposed one another as part of the then ‘Great Game’ waged between the British, French, Ottoman and Russian empires. Lenin also spent time in London

B. China

Historically the most important thing about Sino-British relations is these relations’ principal origin in colonialism. British historians usually note (not always without gloating about China’s subsequent surrender to British power and influence) that when George III’s emissary arrived in China in 1793 to request that the British be allowed to establish more extensive trade relations on their own terms, his gifts were graciously accepted, but the request rejected with the message,

As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures. This then is my answer to your request to appoint a representative at my Court, a request contrary to our dynastic usage, which would only result in inconvenience to yourself … 22 Emperor Qianlong, letter to George III, 1793, available in translation at <http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/qianlong.html>.View all notes

Chinese historians will of course comment on the ‘unequal treaties’ that, inter alia, ceded Hong Kong and, later, its New Territories to Britain, and the memory of the humiliation33 The term conventionally used is ‘national humiliation’ (guochi).View all notes and wreckage colonialism brought to China is symbolised, to many people's minds, by the ruins of wanton ‘punitive’ destruction that can still be seen in Yuanming Park in north-west Beijing.44 Sheila Melvin, ‘The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan’ (ChinaFile, 4 May 2012) <www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/caixin-media/ruins-yuanmingyuan>.View all notes

When the UK, in October 2015, received the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) Xi Jinping with extraordinary pomp—taking him to Buckingham Palace in a golden carriage and repeatedly using the phrase ‘golden relationship’ to predict a glorious shared future of exchange and partnership55 Shi Zhiqin and Lai Suetyi, ‘Xi's Visit to Kick Off a Golden Age of China-UK Relations’ The Diplomat (15 October 2015) <http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/xis-visit-to-kick-off-a-golden-age-of-china-uk-relations/>.View all notes—some saw in this a poignant reversal of fortunes. But there were many concerns about China's numerous rule of law challenges, at a time when the UK, like other European countries, seemed to have its own, different, struggles with adhering to and endorsing human rights standards.

A few months later, Brexit seemed likely to add to anxieties and concerns about what is already a complex and challenging relationship,66 Tom Phillips, ‘China, Britain and Brexit: Vote to Leave EU Robs “Golden Relationship” of Its Lustre’ The Guardian (London, 30 June 2016) <www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/china-britain-and-brexit-vote-to-leave-eu-robs-golden-relationship-of-its-lustre>.View all notes even though in terms of immediate consequences for individuals (see section II.B) there is little that can be predicted with any confidence at this point. China's influence on and in a Britain that is no longer part of the EU is set to generate legal and political challenges.

For the complete article please click here.

Margaret K. Lewis. A Review of China’s Record on Torture. University of Nottingham Blog

Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that “China has made enormous progress in human rights. That’s a fact recognized by all the people of the world.” The statement is true when viewed against the abuses committed under Mao Zedong. Yet the 2015 UN report on China’s compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment presents a bleak view of the realities in China today.

Read More

Eva Pils. 'If Anything Happens…:’ Meeting the Now-detained Human Rights Lawyers. China Change

Meeting people who could be disappeared anytime is a bit unnerving. You keep wondering if this is the last time you’ll see them. You want to ask what you should do in case something bad happens, but you don’t want to distress them by asking too directly.

Read More

Eli Friedman, Aaron Halegua and Jerome A. Cohen. Cruel irony: China’s Communists are stamping out labor activism. Washington Post

They came for the feminists in the spring. In the summer, they came for the rights-defense lawyers. And on Dec. 3, the eve of China’s Constitution Day, Chinese authorities initiated a widespread crackdown on labor activists in the industrial powerhouse of Guangdong province.

Read More