China scraps extra-judicial forced labor for sex workers


December 28, 2019 / 8:48 PM / Updated 13 hours ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s parliament abolished on Saturday an extra-judicial system of forced labor used to punish sex workers and their clients for up to two years, but it stressed that prostitution remains illegal.

China banned prostitution after the Communist revolution in 1949, but it returned with a vengeance after landmark economic reforms began in the late 1970s, despite periodic crackdowns.

The official Xinhua news agency said China’s largely rubber-stamp legislature had voted to scrap the “custody and education” system. It said the decision would be effective from Sunday, when all those currently held in detention under the system would be released.

State media said the instruction to do away with the system had come from the Cabinet and parliament had recommended a review last year, noting that the program was increasingly not being applied in practice.

It had come in for criticism not only for its extra-judicial nature, as China seeks to promote a more law-based society, but also because of abuses such as the supposed rehabilitation facilities being run as profit-making ventures.

Xinhua said that when the system was instigated two decades ago it had “played an important role in educating and rescuing those involved in prostitution and visiting prostitutes”.

But as the country continues to deepen legal reforms and the criminal system, the “custody and education” program was less and less appropriate, it added.

The custody and education system’s historical role had already been completed. This is an important manifestation of strengthening social management using rule of law thinking and methods,” the news agency said.

Prostitution remains illegal, however, with punishments of up to 15 days in detention and fines of up to 5,000 yuan ($714.76), Xinhua said.

In 2013, China scrapped another controversial forced labor statute – the re-education through labor system.

That decision followed several high-profile miscarriages of justice, including a case where a woman was sent to a labor camp after demanding justice for her daughter who had been raped.

The re-education through labor system, which began in 1957, had empowered police to sentence petty criminals to up to four years in detention without going through the courts.

($1 = 6.9954 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Helen Popper

Source: Reuters “China scraps extra-judicial forced labor for sex workers”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Huawei patent case shows Chinese courts’ rising clout


Jan Wolfe June 12, 2018

(Reuters) – A smartphone patent fight between Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS) could reach a global resolution through a ruling by a Chinese court, a development that reflects the growing attractiveness of China as a quick and effective forum for intellectual property disputes.

The size of the U.S. market and the strength of the country’s independent judiciary have historically given its courts the final say in most big cross-border patent disputes. Legal experts say U.S. courts’ pre-eminence in intellectual property matters has helped foster a culture of innovation that China wants to emulate.

The case is being closely watched because it has set up a clash between the two judicial systems, with a U.S. judge instructing Huawei not to enforce a ruling it won against Samsung in China, said Erick Robinson, a Beijing lawyer who previously was Qualcomm Inc’s Asia patent director.

“This has never happened before, at least not on this scale,” Robinson said in a recent interview.

Huawei filed lawsuits in both the United States and China in 2016, alleging Samsung used its cellular communications technology without authorization and has unreasonably delayed entering into a licensing agreement. Samsung has denied the allegations and accused Huawei of seeking “grossly” inflated licensing fees. (reut.rs/2JqAMua)

In January, the Intermediate People’s Court of Shenzhen, China, outpaced a federal court in San Francisco, ruling for Huawei and issuing an order blocking Samsung’s Chinese affiliates from manufacturing and selling 4G LTE smartphones in China.

If the order goes into effect, Samsung would face great pressure to settle because it has large plants in China and has sold millions of phones there, said Robinson.

Huawei and Samsung both declined to comment.

Richard Vary, a lawyer in London and former head of litigation for Nokia (NOKIA.HE), said Chinese courts have risen from being the “fourth or fifth” jurisdiction a global company would consider for patent litigation.

“Now it is the second after the U.S. and has perhaps even moved up ahead of the U.S. so that now you consider it your key forum,” Vary said.

QUICK JUDGMENTS

The judge hearing the parallel U.S. case in April ordered Huawei not to enforce the Shenzhen court’s ban because it would essentially force Samsung to accept Huawei’s demands for licensing fees, “with impacts percolating around world.”

But several legal experts said that may not be Huawei’s call, since the Chinese courts can enforce the ban against Samsung directly. Robinson said the U.S. court may have even made such an outcome more likely, as its seemingly extraterritorial order could “anger the Chinese government.”

Both the Shenzhen and San Francisco decisions are under appeal, so a direct conflict between the two judicial systems could still be averted.

China’s courts are under Communist Party control, and Gaston Kroub, a patent lawyer in New York, said the lack of judicial independence is still the biggest obstacle to Chinese courts’ broader acceptance. (reut.rs/2l38Wp9)

He noted some could see bias in the Shenzhen court’s decision for Huawei, which is headquartered in the city.

But a party committee directly under Chinese President Xi Jinping in November called for impartiality and predictability in patent cases to encourage innovation in the economy.

Speed is a big advantage of Chinese courts, which, unlike their U.S. counterparts, sharply limit the volume of documents parties can seek from each other.

“You get a really quick adjudication of claims and they do it in a really smart way,” said David Pridham, chief executive of Texas-based patent consultancy Dominion Harbor.

Kroub said Chinese courts are also more willing to issue harsh injunctions like the one the Shenzhen court handed down in the Huawei-Samsung case, whereas U.S. courts prefer to award damages. Such powerful relief could appeal to companies under certain circumstances, he said.

“I could cripple competitors by shutting down their manufacturing,” said Kroub.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington; Editing by Anthony Lin and Matthew Lewis

Source: Reuters “Huawei patent case shows Chinese courts’ rising clout”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Beijing to demolish 15 square miles of illegal structures


FILE PHOTO: Beijing’s Mayor Chen Jining attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Reuters Staff January 24, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing plans to tear down at least 40 million square meters, or a staggering 15.44 square miles, of illegal structures, roughly an area of 28 London Hyde Parks, and shut 500 manufacturing firms this year.

The city will “ensure zero increase of such structures” this year and will continue to relocate people out of the city center, acting mayor Chen Jining said in an annual work report to the city’s government on Wednesday.

Beijing last year set a similar goal to demolish 40 million square meters of illegal structures, but there was no indication in this year’s report whether the target was met.

Beijing launched a citywide safety blitz in November following a deadly fire that has resulted in the demolition of buildings that violate safety codes and the eviction of thousands of migrant workers from their homes and businesses.

The evictions sparked unusually direct criticism from China’s intellectuals, students and journalists, who say the government is unfairly targeting the vulnerable underclass.

There will also be no letting up in a campaign to sanitize ancient hutong alleyways that last year displaced migrants as many were evicted from homes and businesses were shut down along the narrow passageways.

The city will continue to “close small shops operated from illegal openings cut in the wall”, the report said, referring to what the city says are illegal modifications to the traditional structures.

Authorities will also preserve the historical areas of Beijing, including the appropriation of properties, though Chen said housing will be provided for those relocated.

Beijing has been moving what it calls “non-capital functions” out of the city in order to relieve traffic congestion and pressure on public services, with the Xiongan New Area announced last year as a major focus for regional development.

“Whatever support Xiongan needs, we will be there to provide it,” said Chen.

Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Beijing to demolish 15 square miles of illegal structures”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China jails activist lawyer for seven years for subversion


A court in China jailed a prominent human rights lawyer for seven years on Thursday for subverting the government, state media said, the latest in a string of convictions linked to an unprecedented crackdown on legal defenders.

Zhou Shifeng, 51, the director of the Beijing Fengrui law firm, is among dozens of lawyers and activists who since July last year have been swept up in a crackdown on dissent.

President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to buttress national security and stability.

But the detention and prosecution of lawyers and activists have caused an outcry among international rights groups and foreign governments, including the United States and Germany.

China consistently rejects any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law.

Zhou pleaded guilty to subversion of state power and would not appeal the sentence issued by a court in the northern city of Tianjin, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“Zhou Shifeng had long been influenced by anti-China forces” and had hyped cases and made remarks online and offline about “overturning the government”, Xinhua citied prosecutors as saying.

Authorities have accused Zhou’s firm, which has represented high-profile clients such as ethnic Uighur dissident Ilham Tohti, of orchestrating protests and politicizing legal cases in order to attract international attention.

China has blamed foreign groups, such as non-governmental organizations, for stirring up trouble, including pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014.

Xinhua said Zhou had confessed that the firm’s actions had drawn the attention of “foreign forces”.

“They actively enticed me, wanted to use us to continue to attack court trials, attack China’s entire trial and judicial system, and bring trouble to the government. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the Communist Party leadership,” Zhou said in a prosecutor’s statement, according the Xinhua.

The court did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

In China, subversion charges are commonly leveled against critics of the party.

Advocates for Zhou have told Reuters his previous legal team had been replaced by government-appointed lawyers. Human rights groups argue that fair trials in such cases are not possible.

The Tianjin court this week also sentenced Zhou’s associates, activists Zhai Yanmin and Hu Shigen, on similar charges.

Roseann Rife, East Asia research director at Amnesty International, said in statement Zhou’s conviction was the latest in a series of “sham trials”.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “China jails activist lawyer for seven years for subversion”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China sentences activist connected to lawyer crackdown


China sentenced a prominent activist to three years in jail with a four year reprieve on Tuesday for subverting the state, in a case linked to a crackdown on human rights lawyers.

President Xi Jinping’s administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to buttress national security and stability.

Dozens of lawyers and activists associated with the Beijing Fengrui law firm, which has represented several high-profile clients, have been swept up in the crackdown and held since July last year, triggering concern in Western capitals.

Authorities in the northern city of Tianjin said Zhai Yanmin, 55, “had long been influenced by anti-China forces, and gradually adopted ideology to overthrow the current state system”, according to what appeared to be partial transcripts of court proceedings released by the official Xinhua news agency.

Zhai repeatedly posted views online subverting the government and had worked with lawyers, including Zhou Shifeng and Li Heping to hype cases and “systematically undermine state power”, Xinhua cited prosecutors as saying.

Those actions “seriously harmed state security and social stability”, it said.

The reprieve accompanying the sentence means that Zhai should be released, another well-known human rights lawyer, Li Fangping, told Reuters, though Zhai is likely to be strictly monitored.

Zhai’s reported admission of guilt was probably aimed at “blackening his name”, Li added.

The court did not answer repeated telephone calls seeking comment.

Rights groups and activists say Zhai was not allowed to retain his own lawyer and was represented by a government-appointed one. It is not clear who that is.

The charges of subverting state power referred to Zhai’s role in coordinating demonstrations and sit-ins outside detention centers, courts and at other sites around the country, Xinhua said.

Defenders “did not object” to evidence presented in the case, Xinhua said, and cited Zhai as saying he used systemic methods to subvert the government.

Prosecutors also said Zhai had participated in illegal church activities run by Hu Shigen, another activist expected to go on trial this week.

China consistently rejects any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law, that all are equal under the law and that those who break the law can expect to be punished.

Authorities in July released on bail pending trial prominent rights lawyer Wang Yu, who had been held for state subversion, state media said.

The Global Times, a Party-run tabloid, said Wang had told the paper she was “ashamed and remorseful” for her actions, though rights groups have condemned in the past such confessions in state media which they say are coerced.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “China sentences activist connected to lawyer crackdown”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China to Tackle the Problem of Prolonged Detentions of Suspects


Police officers stand guard outside a Beijing court during a Chinese rights activist's hearing last year. Photo: Reuters

Police officers stand guard outside a Beijing court during a Chinese rights activist’s hearing last year. Photo: Reuters

SCMP says in its report “China’s top prosecutor’s office issues test rules to tackle prolonged detentions” today, “The top prosecutor’s office in China has issued new test rules aimed at stamping out prolonged detention of criminal suspects.” However, it says in its subtitle “but rights advocates say they will do little for detainees in the system”.

According to the test rules, where a prolonged detention is uncovered the procuratorial officer will issue rectification notices to the police and the police has to release the suspect within 7 days or apply for extension of detention.

That is certainly good, but the problem in China’s legal system is not shortage of good rules but the implementation of law and rules.

That requires good supervision, especially, democratic supervision by the people. Chinese President Xi Jinping has made great efforts for that in his mass line education campaign, but it takes time to switch an autocracy with thousands years of tradition to a democracy. Anyway, we shall welcome any efforts in that direction, no matter how small they are.

Article by Chan Kai Yee as comment on SCMP’s report.

Full text of the report is available at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1846594/chinas-top-prosecutors-office-issues-test-rules-tackle


Chinese police detain more than 100 lawyers and activists in weekend sweep


Chinese rights lawyer Wang Yu (left) disappeared on Thursday. More than 100 lawyers and activists, including Wang's colleague, Zhou Shifeng (right), have been caught up in a police crackdown. Photos: AFP, Weibo

Chinese rights lawyer Wang Yu (left) disappeared on Thursday. More than 100 lawyers and activists, including Wang’s colleague, Zhou Shifeng (right), have been caught up in a police crackdown. Photos: AFP, Weibo

Police claim Beijing law firm was centre of criminal gang that seriously disturbed public order, according to state media report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 12:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 July, 2015, 12:24am
Verna Yu verna.yu@scmp.com

More than 100 people were swept up in an unprecedented police crackdown on mainland human rights advocates on the weekend, with six – including four lawyers – criminally detained in what state media said was a nationwide operation to smash a “criminal gang”.

In an article on Sunday headlined “Uncovering the dark story of ‘rights defence’.”, spanning two-thirds of its second page, People’s Daily said the Ministry of Public Security launched the operation to “smash a major criminal gang that had used the Beijing Fengrui law firm as a platform since July 2012 to draw attention to sensitive cases, seriously disturbing social order”.

The article said the firm’s director Zhou Shifeng, his assistant Liu Sixin, lawyers Wang Quanzhang, Huang Liqun, Wang Yu and her husband Bao Longjun were in criminal detention for “seriously violating the law”. It did not specify a charge. On the mainland, police can detain suspects for up to 37 days before prosecutors approve their formal arrests.

It said “the criminal gang” comprised Zhou, Wang Yu, Wang Quanzhang, Huang as well as Liu, Bao and high-profile activist Wu Gan, who masterminded many plots in the name of “rights defence, justice and public interest”. It accused them of “colluding with petitioners to disturb social order and to reach their goals with ulterior motives”.

Wu, an online activist nicknamed “Super Vulgar Butcher”, was formally arrested a week ago on charges of “inciting subversion” and “provoking trouble”. He also worked at Fengrui and Wang Yu was his defence lawyer.

People’s Daily said Wu was “a key player” in drawing a huge public outcry over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, Xu Chunhe, by a policeman in Qingan, Heilongjiang , in May, offering 100,000 yuan (HK$126,000) for any footage showing the incident. Other rights lawyers were accused of involvement. “These lawyers publicly challenged the court … and mobilised troublemakers to rally petitioners … outside the court,” it said. “They are the direct pushers.”

The six people criminally detained were among over 100 lawyers and rights advocates taken away, summoned or detained by police over the weekend. At least three law firms were also searched. Many of the detainees had signed a statement condemning Wang Yu’s disappearance early on Thursday after her electricity was cut and her home broken into.

Late Saturday, lawyer Sui Muqing was put under “residential surveillance at a designated location” – a form of police detention that can last up to six months – for alleged “incitement to subvert state power”, according to a police document.

By 10pm Sunday, 106 people from 15 cities and provinces had been detained, summoned, questioned or were missing, said the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. It said 82 had been released.

But of those released, at least three were taken away for a second time, said a lawyer, who declined to be named. The family of lawyer Li Fangping said he returned home late Saturday after having been questioned by police in Jiangxi province for three hours but police took him away again early the next morning. He was released again late on Sunday.

Lawyer Wang Cheng, who was released on Saturday after being questioned by police, had his home searched by police on Sunday, the same day that lawyer Li Jinxing was taken away for questioning, another released lawyer said.

Teng Biao, visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, said the Qingan incident was only a pretext for action against rights lawyers and activists, who have long been seen as a thorn in the side of the authorities. He said the crackdown on the lawyers made a mockery of the authorities’ claim to “rule the country by law”.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said the action showed the Ministry of Public Security’s interpretation of “disturbing public order” was ever-expanding. “That these lawyers are a ‘major criminal gang’ is a new and serious allegation, one that demonstrates the authorities’ willingness to warp the law beyond all recognition,” she said.

Source: SCMP “Chinese police detain more than 100 lawyers and activists in weekend sweep”