In the News

Stanley Lubman in the news:

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.

What China’s wrongful convictions mean for legal reform

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2013

Two prominent judges have recently issued sharp critiques of China’s judicial system, leading to optimism in some quarters that long-awaited legal reforms could finally be on their way…. Advocates of legal reform are right to feel encouraged. The high positions of both judges and the directness of their comments suggest that higher authorities approved their views. But, as is often the case, there are caveats.

Recalibrating expectations on labor camp reform

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, June 28, 2013

Momentum appears to have seeped out of one of the most promising Chinese legal reforms of the year: a widely cheered plan to do away with the country’s arbitrary police detention system…. Recently, for example, Chinese and foreign media alike have published vivid accounts from women prisoners at the Masanjia laojiao camp in Liaoning Province who say they were made to work long hours with little food and were subjected to torture, such as hanging by cuffs, solitary confinement in a tiny room and other cruel restraints for prolonged periods.

Why Americans should worry about China’s food safety problems

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, May 21, 2013

If a diner in the U.S. consumes a lunch of tilapia, mushrooms and spinach, there’s a decent chance the entire meal was imported from China. And the overwhelming odds are that none of those foods were inspected by the Food and Drug Administration when they arrived in the U.S.

What China needs to do to really put clamps on corruption

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report, April 2, 2013

China’s current crackdown on corruption and official excess, comprehensive as it may seem on the outside, mirrors many failed anti-corruption campaigns from the past. It also risks reinforcing, rather than reducing, the sense among Chinese people that corruption has become pervasive.

Rebel village’s failure also China’s

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

Conflicts over land confiscation reflect the pressures of rural-urban inequality, the considerable dependence of local governments on land sales for financial support, the close links in many communities between local officials and businesses, widespread corruption among officials, and the increasing level of anger over violations of villagers’ interests in communally-owned land.

Social change leaves China struggling to define role of law

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2013

Dog owners in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen who disobey a new law mandating the use of “pet restrooms” are subject to an $80 fine. According to another new regulation approved in Beijing late last year, children are required to visit elderly parents “often.” These and other recent legal developments – including a pair of domestic violence cases with wildly different outcomes – illustrate how unprecedented social changes in China are provoking new questions about the role of law in society.

Will re-education through labor end soon?

Stanley Lubman writes for The Wall Street Journal, China RealTime Report, February 4, 2013

The arbitrary system of police detention … or re-education through labor, has fallen so far out of favor that one China police chief cited the virtues of dissent for patriotic purposes to make a case for ending it. Growing criticism of this decades-old practice is encouraging. But if official statements aren’t accompanied by meaningful legal reform, police will likely keep locking up minor offenders at will under various forms of house arrest.