Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, March 19, 2009

China's rule of law

Commercial law in China might be entering the 21st century in some ways, but criminal law resembles the 19th century version.

Two Chinese Dissidents Freed After Years in Prison

"Two Chinese intellectuals jailed after their political discussion group drew the attention of public security officials were released from prison on Thursday, just one day short of completing their eight-year sentences.

"Yang Zili, 37 [at left], an Internet entrepreneur, and Zhang Honghai, 36, a freelance writer, were arrested in 2001 along with two friends whose informal study group sought to tackle such topics as government corruption, democracy and the unrelenting poverty of rural China. The group, which they named New Youth Society, rarely drew more than four or five participants and met sporadically over the course of a few months before its membership was detained...

"The defendants, who came to be known as the “Four Gentleman of Beijing,” were convicted of subversion during a trial that relied on their Internet postings advocating political liberalization and the written testimony of three friends who later recanted their accounts...

"Sitting in a McDonald’s and clutching a cup of Sprite, Mr. Yang seemed dazed by his new freedom, the occasional smile quickly subsumed by melancholy...

"Before heading out to the street, Yang said he was not bitter about what happened to him, just sad that the group he helped start had indirectly destroyed the lives of so many friends. “I couldn’t have imagined that spreading ideas such as freedom and democracy would lead to something so horrible,” he said."

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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