Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tiananmen's legacy - Jerome Cohen // South China Morning Post

Jerome Cohen is our original expert on the development of the legal system in the People's Republic of China.  After clerking on the U.S Supreme Court he started studying Chinese law when there was virtually none as revolutionary turmoil returned in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Today much has changed.  There is a big system of courts, embrace of treaties that set the terms of international trade, and a reasonably developed domestic law code.

His perspective on then 25th Anniversary of the June 4, 1989 suppression of the mass demonstration at Tiananmen square therefore deserves our careful attention. - gwc

Arrested Freedom
by Jerome A. Cohen  // South China Morning Post  - June 3, 2014
The lesson of the past 25 years for our purposes seems to be that economic and social progress, enactment of better legislation, improvements in legal institutions, and reformist official policy statements do not guarantee either the enjoyment of civil and political rights or the protection of political and religious activists and their lawyers against the arbitrary exercise of state and party power. This is not to say that no legal progress is being made in related areas of human rights. Despite efforts to restrict the influence of the internet and social media, public opinion is being listened to in some respects, and party leaders are slowly allowing legal institutions to respond to demands to vindicate rights in certain fields, including labour, environment, gender discrimination and ordinary civil and criminal cases. Yet there is little evidence that such progress is likely to improve the lot of political and religious activists and their lawyers, at least in the near future.

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