In the News


Stanley Lubman in the news:



Why Maoist show trials in China aren’t going away any time soon

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time, September 10, 2014

The importance to the leadership of both the campaign against corruption and the crackdown on dissent strongly suggests that whatever measures are planned to carry out legal reform, the use of public confessions and “open trials” like that of Bo Xilai’s are likely to continue.


Arrested, detained: A guide to navigating China’s police powers

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2014

Headlines about China are filled with reports of Chinese citizens—some well-known, some less so—who have been detained, arrested or indicted…. The array of terms used to describe the different powers and tactics available to the Chinese police is enough to make both readers and journalists struggle.


A key move to protect courts in China

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2014

Local protectionism is a systemic defect in China’s governance that has been difficult to control because it exists from the provincial level on down. It is so pervasive that it is not possible to know how provincial officials will respond to the reform, or whether they will encourage, or impede, lower-level reforms.


‘Picking quarrels’ casts shadow over Chinese law

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time blog, June 30, 2014

On top of prosecutions for vaguely defined crimes such as “picking quarrels,” the rules for journalists and lawyers restrict public expression of views by the two groups who should be most involved in interpreting party-state policies and actions. Ordinary citizens who might contemplate taking their grievances to the streets can’t discern a “line” other than one that suggests that they should keep their dissatisfactions to themselves.


Labor pains: A rising threat to stability in China

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Blog, June 10, 2014

The agencies of the party-state are always watching for stirrings of unrest. If they detect growing strength — especially if it reflects increasing links among labor unions, NGOs and social media — there will be efforts to suppress it.  Moreover, concern about worker unrest cannot be separated from the party’s unrelenting focus on stability.


The deadly tent fire that China doesn’t want people to talk about

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2014

A grisly crime arising out of a clash over land rights in eastern China’s Shandong is the latest illustration of a critical disconnect among farmers, local village authorities and the central government, which has pledged land reforms that have not yet been enacted.


Why China can’t clean up corruption

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time blog April 9, 2014

China’s current campaign against corruption, which has targeted very high-level officials, demonstrates both the extent of the corruption in China and the Party-state’s failure to prevent its spread. The Party has tough choices ahead: It clearly recognizes the danger corruption poses to its own mandate to rule, but meaningful reform would weaken the very power that the Party seeks to strengthen.


Wukan: New election, same old story

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2014

The Chinese Communist Party is reasserting control, stifling local protests and handing out money to the village in the interest of “stability maintenance.” The villagers, meanwhile, are disillusioned by their failure to regain most of the land that the former village government illegally seized. Since the 2012 election, there has been no progress on the land claims, and hopes that “democracy” might change the situation have faded.


An encouraging sign for (limited) legal reform

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2014
China’s new leadership has signaled that fundamental changes to the country’s legal system are not on the table. But a brief document, largely ignored in the English-speaking world until recently, suggests high-level support for limited, but important, reforms.


China’s rubble-strewn path to land reform

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2014
The need for real reform of rural land law, not just promises from the central government, is illustrated by the highly publicized case of Wukan, a fishing village in Guangdong Province that had once fueled hope for change but which now languishes as an example of the intractable difficulties faced by China’s farmers in defending their rights.


Anxiety trumps law in Party’s crackdown on activists

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2014
There is an ironic twist in the fact that Xu and President Xi Jinping have both been campaigning against the same problem in Chinese society: the pervasiveness of official corruption.  But while Xi has focused on the lifestyles of officials, Xu has sought to go deeper by insisting that officials be required to disclose the sources of their wealth.


Riding the tiger: China’s struggle with rule of law

Stanley Lubman writes for the Wall Street Journal China Real Time blog, December 18, 2013

Although relative freedom has become possible in the growing private sector of the economy, the Party’s version of the rule of law continues to control legal institutions. Meanwhile, public discontent has grown, fed by widening economic inequality, widespread corruption, official arbitrariness, land theft by local governments, looseness of Party discipline, the rise of privileged elites and a persistent lack of protection for private rights.


China legal reform promises cause for cautious optimism

Stanley Lubman writes for Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2013

The initial communiqué that emanated from China’s major meeting of top Communist Party leaders on November 12th focused on economic reform and had little to say about the legal realm. That changed three days later when the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party released a 60-point “resolution” that announced two potentially significant legal reforms and provided more detail about additional reform targets.


In mess Bo left, an opportunity for Beijing

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, October 25, 2013

The Higher People’s Court in Shandong rejected an appeal on Friday by Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party boss in Chongqing who was convicted last month of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. While that expected decision likely ends the legal drama surrounding Bo himself, many of those he attacked in Chongqing are still waiting for closure.


China’s social organizations could help tamp social unrest

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, October 15, 2013

Instead of mild hopes for return to religious belief, China would be better served with a strong rule of law to fill the moral vacuum. Unfortunately, with economic reform as the primary current task, major law reforms are not on the agenda.


What the Bo Xilai trial means for China’s legal system

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, September 26, 2013

The sentencing of former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai to life in prison on bribery charges over the weekend effectively brought to a close China’s biggest political crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.  Bo’s exit is significant in that it leaves the neo-Maoist “New Left” without a star. But the trial was also noteworthy for the many questions it raised about the future of China’s much-scrutinized legal system.


The ‘legalization’ of China’s Internet crackdown

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2013

Beijing has launched a multi-pronged offensive against online criticism of current policies and institutions that includes a propaganda campaign, arrests, and a duplicative new legal rule that attempts to justify the response and deter future online critiques. This call to battle is not new, but its codification in legal dress is disturbing and represents a magnified threat to online discussion and dissent in China.


Document no. 9: the party attacks western democratic ideals

Stanley Lubman quoted in The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, August 27, 2013

The headline-grabbing trial of Bo Xilai should not be allowed to divert concern from a forceful attack on the rule of law by the Party leadership that began this spring and became public earlier this month. As articulated in Document No. 9, a memo by senior leaders to Party members, the threat of Western democratic ideals to Communist ideology and to the principle of Party leadership is being taken more seriously than at any time in the recent past.


The ticking bomb of China’s urban para-police

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2013

Chinese citizen anger has been stoked to dangerous levels by reports of urban management officers, or chengguan, employing extreme violence against street vendors. Chengguan are auxiliary para-police organized and hired by city governments…. Despite years of bitter public complaints over the thug-like, and often violent, behavior of many chengguan, little has been done to rein them in.


The gaping hole in China’s corruption fight

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, August 1, 2013

The judicial system, although it should be the appropriate institution for exposure and punishment of offenders, is itself infected by corruption that up to now has gone unmentioned…. The issue of corruption in the courts has not been raised in the current anti-corruption drive, probably because judicial reform of any kind would affect the basic roots of CPC power.