A new breed of Chinese public-interest lawyer is leading the push to establish real rule of law. The bravest handful have argued cases on illegal land grabs and seizures of private property by local officials, on freedom of the press and on unauthorized taxation. They've won a few cases that have become legendary among the growing body of Chinese lawyers.And another example of the Communists putting themselves on the wrong side of reason:
Their efforts, and the rising legal consciousness of the Chinese people, hold hope of change from within....
Chinese officials know they have a problem; they've rebuilt a legal system destroyed by the Cultural Revolution. But the Communist Party controls the appointment of judges, who are very vulnerable to pressures by local officials. Fearful officials try to deny their local residents the facts they need to build a case....
Some brave lawyers who tackle the most controversial public-interest cases wind up in jail. Among them is Chen Guangcheng, a blind peasant lawyer who tried to bring a class-action suit challenging forced abortion and sterilization in the city of Linyi. He documented hideous cases, which are now illegal (fines are the punishment for too many births).
Officials seized Chen from his home district while he was visiting Beijing, and he is now being held incommunicado, according to his lawyer Teng Biao. Last Friday, Teng told me that his client was conducting a hunger strike. The Chinese news media aren't permitted to mention the case, although details are circulating on Chinese Internet sites.
BEIJING - As oil prices rise, carpooling is taking off in China's biggest cities. But unlike in the West, authorities appear none too happy about it.Good to see that the Communists, despite a remarkable amount of competence in recent years, haven't entirely lost the ability to be entirely looney-tunes.
Web sites that serve as bulletin boards for those who want to carpool have popped up and are drawing huge amounts of interest....
As crude oil prices soar worldwide, authorities in many developed countries are encouraging gas-saving methods such as carpooling. But Chinese authorities may be ready to crack down on it, because they see the drivers as engaging in illicit commercial transactions and the taxi industry views carpooling as a front for outlaw cab services.
State-run news media have carried numerous declarations of officials saying carpooling is illegal if the driver receives payment.
"It is an illegal business operation without a proper license. Those who conduct it could be punished," a Transportation Management Bureau official told the Jilin Daily newspaper. In Shenzhen, one transportation official, Sun Pulin, told a regional newspaper that anyone who offered carpooling services for payment could face impoundment of the car.
And on a more regrettable note, the latest attempt to increase coal mine safety is being acknowledged as a failure:
This campaign was supposed to be part of a major drive to improve safety in its coal mines.Hey, Deng Xiaopeng said to be rich is glorious, right? Nice to see that Enron-style capitalism has spread to China, albeit with more crushing fatalities.
Local officials often have shares in the mines, which have risen in value as coal fuels the booming economy.
But poor safety standards and many illegal operations have led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 miners in the first half of this year alone.
Beijing ordered all local officials to give up their stakes after growing public anger about the problem.
Now, though, it has admitted that those orders have been ignored by many Communist Party cadres.
One quoted in the state media said he would rather give up his official position than lose his shares.