• Welcome to China Research and Analyses

    Seek truth from facts.

    A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of minds

China opposes US unilateral sanctions against its companies

China has firmly rejected the unilateral sanctions the US government has imposed on Chinese companies to economically isolate North Korea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday. “We firmly oppose the long arm of the jurisdiction against Chinese companies and individuals according to their legislation because it is wrong,” Lu told a news conference after it was revealed that the US sanctioned four companies based in China that have trade relations with Korea From the north. According to the US Treasury Department, between January 2013 and August 2017, three of these companies exported goods worth $ 650 million to North Korea and imported goods worth $ 100 million from that country.

Keep Reading

Trump warns Xi

US President Donald Trump has warned Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US trade deficit with the Chinese continues to grow and that this situation is not sustainable for the country’s economy. The White House said Trump and Xi had been on the phone Monday night in Washington when it was Tuesday in Beijing.

Keep Reading

Fight against pollution

China’s government campaign to move the coal-fired heating system through millions of homes to less polluting heating and wind help has made Beijing sky win the rare shade of blue but has generated a national energy crisis that threatens to affect the market of natural gas. Airborne particle levels in Beijing ...

Keep Reading

Welcome to China Research and Analyses. If you need something from us feel free to Email us! :)


Seek truth from facts. Read More about China Research And Analyses Articles


China extends hand to Brazil’s economic plans in Temer’s visit

China and Brazil signed on Friday 14 cooperation agreements, some of them for the construction of railway, nuclear and electric projects in Brazil with Chinese investment, after the meeting in Beijing of the presidents of both countries, Xi Jinping and Michel Temer.

Xi received Temer with a military ceremony at the entrance to the Great Hall of the People, seat of the Chinese Legislature, west of Tiananmen Square, and after a one-hour meeting, the two rulers signed these agreements.

Among them, the Bank of China Development and BNDES signed a US $ 3 billion credit line and signed by China Communication and Construction for the construction of a terminal in the Port of São Luís (an investment of US $ 700 million), and the US $ 300 million loan between Eximbank and Banco do Brasil.

In addition, Chinese investment in various infrastructure projects, such as the Bamin-Fiol-Porto do Sul railway line, with the participation of CREC, and the works for the high-voltage transmission line between the Xingu and Rio de Janeiro have been confirmed. January, in which the state-owned stateGrid will work.

Image result for China extends hand to Brazil's economic plans in Temer's visit

Another project with participation is the Angra III nuclear plant, in which will be present the company China National Nuclear Corporation.

Memoranda have also been prepared to facilitate the issuance of tourist and business visas, which will allow the film co-productions between both countries and cooperation agreements in football (between the two national federations) in e-commerce, health and food safety.

At the signing of the agreements, among others were the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, and Industry, Foreign Trade and Services, Marcos Pereira.

The agreements, as well as Temer’s visit to Beijing, “raise coordination between Brazil and China to a new level,” said Zhang Run, deputy director general for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chinese.

In remarks to the press, Zhang recalled that this is the second meeting between the two presidents, following a year ago in Hangzhou (East China) at the G20 summit, and stressed the importance of the ties between the two countries, “the largest developing countries in both hemispheres. ”

Xi and Temer agreed today that in the face of a climate of global uncertainty, the two powers “should strengthen unity and coordination and jointly face the challenges of transforming Sino-Brazilian cooperation into a model of ties between economies emerging “.

Image result for China extends hand to Brazil's

The two presidents underscored the need to coordinate the Chinese plan for the New Silk Road Routes, which seeks to build telecommunications and infrastructure works worldwide, with Brazil’s new development plan, which Temer will present in more detail this Saturday to Chinese entrepreneurs. different sectors.

Temer, who also traveled to China to attend the Brics summit, to be held from September 3 to 5 in Xiamen, was also hosted by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and the Chairman of the Advisory Power, Yu Zhengsheng.

The purpose of the Brazilian government is to present in China the recently announced national privatization and public works program, which seeks to end two years of economic recession and consolidate the timid recovery of recent months.

“Brazil is back on the road to recovery, with many positive indicators, and the Chinese side expects this growth to continue,” said Zhang.

The Chinese official recalled that in the first half of this year, bilateral trade grew by 30.6% and that China has invested more than US $ 30 billion in Brazil, which has become the main Latin American destination of Chinese capital, surpassing Venezuela.

Zhang avoided claiming that Brazil replaced Venezuela in the focus of Chinese companies because of the political crisis in Caracas, and pointed out that economic cooperation with Latin America “is not prone to momentary changes.”

“We will continue to participate actively with the countries of Latin America, including Brazil and Venezuela, and contribute to social development to be a positive influence for regional peace and stability,” he concluded.

Reading the CCP Notice on Diligently Studying and Implementing the Standards and the Regulations

In various European countries, different persons are using their own technique to read Chinese legal texts, so I thought I would share mine as I go on constructing it. This is an important endeavor: European sinologists and political scientists were perhaps the first ones who attempted to read and understand Chinese legal texts. Their techniques – as well as the ones used in Australia – however, rest for the most part upon the tacit, and practical knowledge each interpreter has acquired over the years by trial and error. This knowledge should be made explicit: multitasking and information overflow (very few people still read the paper texts of legal documents) are changing the way we read, with the result that these techniques are slowly being lost.
In this post I will explain by simple questions and answers what I focus on when I read some legal texts, using the ‘Notice on Diligently Studying and Implementing the CCP Standards on Integrity and Self-Restraint (original|translation) and the CCP Regulations on Disciplinary Punishments’ (original|partial translation) as an example. The full text of the Notice can be found here (Chinese).What typology of the document is this?

The Notice on Diligently Studying….as its title says is a Notice/通知. Notices/通知 are used either to disseminate documents or to issue communications to Party or to state bureaucracies. The ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ were issued by a notice. The goal of the Notice on Diligently Studying…is not disseminating these texts but explaining why and how the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ should be taught and studied and making their study mandatory.

Is it a public document?

If it is not a public document, then you cannot read it…if it is a public document, then the next questions to ask are:

Which institution issued it?

The Notice was issued by the General Office:

The Central General Office is responsible for coordinating the enactment of Party laws and regulations; its agency for regulatory work is responsible for specific duties.

Where was it published?

Image result for the paper edition of the People’s Daily

The Notice was published on the front page of the paper edition of the People’s Daily, in a column:

….and on the landing page of the People’s Daily website

and on the front page of the Procuratorial Daily, the People’s Police Daily etc. The importance of any document is signaled by the media outlet where the document is published and by its positioning on a newspaper or internet website.

Image result for the paper edition of the People’s Daily

When was it published?

The timing when speeches, notices, regulations etc. are published can and does vary. Xi Jinping’s speech on culture and the arts, for instance, was delivered on 15 October 2014 but, its full text was released on 15 October 2015, eleven days before the date of the Fifth Plenum. The ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ were issued on 18 October, and the Notice came out today – on the closing day of the Fifth Plenum.

Is an official translation available?

If an official translation is available, then an official translation should be used and read alongside the Chinese text. Great care goes into producing the official translation of legal and political documents. The choice of words used to translate the equivalent Chinese characters can be taken to reflect how legal concepts and/or political concepts are (in part) understood by those who supervised the translators, and how they are meant to be understood by readers. The risk inherent in producing one’s own translations of available documents (or improving available official translations) is pre-imposing our own understanding of legal or political concepts on the text. For instance, translating 宽严相济 as ‘tempering justice with mercy‘ is a choice that produces definite effects on what the text will mean to U.S. trained lawyers. ‘Balancing leniency and severity’ may sound unfamiliar to the ears of a U.S. trained lawyer but, it has the advantage of being closer to at least some of the ideas the sight of 宽严相济 evokes. Not all of the ideas that come to one’s mind whenever one sees 宽严相济 (or anything else) are legal concepts. It is possible that seeing the four ideograms will remind one of the proverbs (成语 chengyu), stories from the Chinese classics, episodes in Chinese history etc. All of these ideas can, in turn, shed light on the broader meaning of 宽严相济 in Chinese law because they are part of the context where 宽严相济 was created and used.

Is this document as important as it seems?

To this question, there are many possible answers. To some the Notice may be unimportant – the sky is high and the Emperor far away, therefore local Party organs may or may not abide by the Notice they would argue. Others may say that even though study sessions on the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ may be mandatory, those attending study sessions will pay more attention to their iPhones and iPads screens than to the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’.

To me, the Notice is very important because it is one of the various explanatory texts that are being produced at the moment of writing. Some of these texts explain the genesis of the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’, while the Notice explains why and how they should be taught and studied.

Why, according to the CCP, the ‘Regulations’ and the ‘Standards’ should be taught and studied.

This point is illustrated by the opening sentence(s) of each one of the paragraphs of art. 1 of the Notice:

Image result for the paper edition of the People’s Daily

To take care of the affairs of China the focus must be placed on the Party. ‘To rule the state one must first rule the Party’, and ‘the Party should be governed strictly’. [1]

Since the 18th Party Congress the Party with Comrade Xi Jinping as its General Secretary has upheld ‘the Party should rule the Party and the Party should be ruled severely’ (…) it has summarized the lessons of Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Xu Caihou, Ling Jihua, Guo Boxiong (…) the fruits of these experiences in severely ruling the Party have been summarized and turned into moral and disciplinary requirements (…) [2]

Natural requirements of ‘Comprehensively severely ruling the Party’ are ‘combining ruling the Party according to regulations and ruling the Party according to virtue/morality’ (de 德) [3]

In documents as this one, the opening sentence of each paragraph is the most important one, because it sets forth the premises, which are then elaborated by the rest of each paragraph, that should guide the correct use of the ‘Standards’ and ‘Regulations’. I will explain how I read sentences as ‘To rule the state one must first rule the Party’, and ‘the Party should be governed strictly’ in a later post.

How the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ should be taught and studied, and by whom.

The ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ should be taught by the Party Committee Core Groups, by Party schools, by schools of public administrations and by cadre training institutes in 2016 and 2017. The ‘Notice’ does not specify which method should be used to study or teach these documents.

Study and teaching are necessary to understand the real significance of the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’. The significance is illustrated by the Notice as follows: 1) the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ add greater specificity to the rules set by the Party Statute. 2) Political discipline is the most important kind of discipline, on grounds that state capacity and legitimacy derive from the ability to maintain political discipline. 3) Party members must be held to a higher standard of behavior than persons not affiliated to the Party.

These three points are meant to guide, to frame how the ‘Standards’ and the ‘Regulations’ are to be understood, and in turn, used.

A long overdue reply to Jean Christopher Mittelstaedt’s criticism

This post is written in response to Jean Christopher Mittelstaedt’s criticism of the paper I presented at the 2015 European China Law Studies Association Conference. Jean Christopher Mittelstaedt works with Stéphanie Balme at SciencesPo, in Paris. The criticism I received from him is, thus far, the best and most sophisticated criticism I have ever received. I am not posting the response he sent me. Those who are interested in the question of how we should approach Chinese law may want to get in touch to explore possible ways to start a broader public conversation on this and similar points.

Here is, however, a summary of what Christopher wrote. Among others, my paper holds that principles in Western law are equivalent to “原则” in Chinese law, and therefore “Seeking Truth from Facts” functions as a legal principle.

Image result for Jean Christopher Mittelstaedt’s criticism

Christopher’s criticism takes aim at the question of what a “principle” and what a “原则” are, according to the paper. To understand a language, he writes, we have to live within it. Language posits us within a worldview and determines our horizon. Our horizon, however, expands when we enter a foreign language. Whenever we acquire a command of one or more foreign languages, we acquire the ability to live in between two or more different worlds, without negating the worldview our mother tongue has bestowed on us. The most interesting question, here, would be what happened to the speaker’s worldview, what does it mean to our use of language, which semantic detours and how many of them the speaker has to take when the general consensus prohibits the speaker or writer to use his true mother tongue. But, this question relates to the philosophy of language more than to anything else.

When we speak two or more languages, we find ourselves entangled in the problem of interpretation: when we translate from language A to language B, we automatically add an additional layer of interpretation to the meaning B has in the target language. This is a general problem, the critique says, evident in my acceptance of what a “principle” is, and in my projecting the meaning of “principle” onto yuanze 原则. “Principle” does not correspond to the meaning of yuanze 原则. yuanze 原则 was born within a specific horizon of meaning, one that has to be studied and understood. The paper I wrote criticizes the brutalization of concepts in Chinese law, the separation of concepts from the contexts that give them meaning but, the same brutalization is evident in my analysis of what “Seeking Truth from Facts mean”.

1. This response does not put forward a defense of the paper I wrote in September. I believe that the endeavor of:

(1) isolating a word, or a concept, or anything else in Chinese law AND

(2) explaining the word, concept etc. in light of a meaning that originates from the context within which the interpreter operates; or a meaning the interpreter attributes to those who use the explanandum (= thing to be explained) in China is defensible on cognitive grounds only.

While we cannot make sense of the world around us in the absence of at least one cognitive scheme, any attempt to defend the paper on cognitive grounds would amount to nothing more than a statement that:

“because the meaning I have constructed for X according to how I see the world, is the meaning of “legal principle in a Western sense” [where “Western sense is clearly another construct”] then, whenever a Chinese person encounters X he will give to X the same meaning I gave to it or at least very similar one.”

This statement says more about the interpreter, and perhaps about the interpretive consensus within which the interpreter operates than it does about the explanandum. If this point is accepted, then the question remains of why I wrote a paper where paragraph 2 bends back upon itself. Differently stated: why does paragraph 2 tells us a lot about how we Westerners look at principles but, it doesn’t say anything about how Chinese people conceive of yuanze 原则?

2. After all, I have stated that one of my goals is performing what I playfully call “psychoanalyses” of the concepts and “mechanisms” I encounter. In other words, if those who make, interpret and use the law are historical beings whose goals include solving problems as these problems exist in their societies, perhaps their statements could be read à la letter.

For instance, the words in article 33 of the PRC Constitution “the State respects and preserves human rights” can be read as meaning that the state respects and protects human rights. In the absence of nothing less than a clear statement to the contrary emanating from a constitutional authority, perhaps we would not want to assume that article 33 paragraph (3) was included in the PRC Constitution with the intent to pay lip service to rights that belong to every human being. An interpretation based on either the assumption that

(1) Chinese politicians and legislators will always and only say the contrary of what they mean, or

(2) in theory, they may truly mean what they say but, they are in practice unable to achieve their purposes because they have adopted a different set of political principles would be problematic.

In the paper, I explained how I am trying to ‘listen’ to the political/legal system impartially:

Differently, from Michael Dowdle‘s concepts of “constitutional listening”, which itself is an adaptation of the principle of charity, impartial listening does not involve “finding the most coherent interpretation we can” for legal statements. Neither does it involve the Occamian simplicity principle. The human mind strives for explanations which are as simple and as coherent as possible, and it is therefore natural that our search for clarity, simplicity, and coherence leads us to overlook interpretations that seem, to us, to lack these qualities. However, simplicity and coherence may be more an aspiration of those who try to understand Chinese ideology and law, than an objective feature of either ideology, law or both. If this is the case, then the very presupposition that the best possible explanation is the simplest or most coherent one will not enable a better understanding of the law. A seeming incoherence between two or more of the concepts or principles stated or embodied by the same piece of legislation, between law and interpretation, interpretation and enforcement or adjudication ought to be considered among the normal features of the legal system. Impartial listening takes into account the possibility that both coherence and incoherence are normal components of a legal system. Therefore:

(i) it abstains from finding any interpretation that attempts to reduce incoherence, or to simplify complexity;

(ii) it accepts that, in stating principles which may appear naive or incoherent, the law-maker, or the exegete, is stating what he believes to be the truth, using the language that he believes to be acceptable in the political and legal environment within which he operates;

(iii) it considers naivete, excessive simplicity (or complexity), incoherence (or coherence) between concepts and principles as given, and possible symptoms of political or legal dynamics that deserve a further exploration.

It seems that the paper starts out on the right track but then, it derails as it falls back in the very same cognitive scheme it tries to avoid. Yet paragraphs 3 illustrates how “Seeking Truth from Facts” became among others a 原则 yuanze, and some of the meanings that those who use “Seeking Truth from Facts,” say “Seeking Truth from Facts” has. Isn’t this a contradiction I could have easily avoided?

To give an adequate response to Christopher’s criticism, an explanation of how I conceived the paper, and a disclosure of the intentions I had in mind as I set out to write the paper are necessary.

Image result for Jean Christopher Mittelstaedt’s criticism

3. To explain how I conceived the paper, I should try to explain how I read Chinese texts.

Here, the ‘how I read Chinese texts’ relates not to the techniques I have learned, and to those I am trying to develop (described here, in part). The ‘how I read’ in the context of this post relates to my perception of the text, and what kind of cognitive processes my perception of the text triggers.

When reading a Chinese text, or a text in an alphabetic language, persons may experience the text verbally, in the sense that upon seeing the characters 实事求是 or the words “Seek Truth from Facts” they may think in words, verbalizing the words in their mind. I do not. I experience the text in a different way. Whenever I read, I visualize each and every word in roughly 50 percent of the page (25 percent if the text is in Chinese) with a single glance. I do not verbalize the words in my mind but, I conceive their meaning (in some case the meanings) visually, as in the case when a person sees a road sign:

Sometimes, I conceive their meaning non-visually, and non-verbally. Sometimes, seeing Chinese characters triggers a flow of images. Sometimes, it is as if characters were moveable components, that could be rotated, shuffled, and arranged at will in the same way wooden alphabet blocks can. I see the text as if the text was not the unitary whole that it is (or it claims to be, or it seems), but a composite of various units of meaning, which are connected in many different ways:

Each unit of meaning may have been born at a different time, because of a variety of different reasons, and it may acquire one or more different meanings over time. The hypothesis that units without meaning exist in legal texts is a hypothesis I reject on very simple grounds:

If “shishi qiushi” really contained no information, then it wouldn’t have been carved on the stone placed at the East Gate of the People’s University (=Renmin University of China).

While reading and commenting on the CCP Statute at Law at the End of The Day, upon seeing 实事求是 I had a flashback of each one of the places, each one of the texts, and each one of the practices where I saw those words, that slogan, motto, chengyu, or principle carved, painted, written, spoken or acted upon. I understood that these artifacts, places, texts, actions etc. were somehow related because, not unlike polyhedra, Chinese tifas and 原则 do have different faces (meanings). Some yuanze perhaps are “weightier” than others, and while the yuanze can be ordered hierarchically, such an ordering is not the only possibility….

4. The intentions I had in mind when I wrote the paper were many. I wanted to give an example of how we may try to understand the information conveyed to us by all those linguistic units we do not really understand. (If we truly understood them, we would not dismiss them as Communist blabber without at least attempting to perform an analysis of what their meaning may be).

I wanted readers to understand how, in reality, principles are neither transcendent nor are they unchanging truths. Principles and 原则 are man-made. They are created in a specific historical, cultural, political, and social context in response to distinct needs,problems or wishes. That 原则 are man-made, and that principles are man-made too, given how they derive from experience and empirical observation, does not say anything as to whether one’s conception of law is consequentialist or deontological. What I found interesting about principles and 原则 is that both of them are ordinary words, words that have transcended the sphere of ordinary language to acquire a different kind of communicative function.

I am trying to work outside of all the approaches, and techniques of China studies, with the goal to unveil the cognitive frameworks I have been using for the past ten or twelve years as a result of being (among many other things) a “China scholar”, and possibly understand where they work, and where they don’t. Trying to step out these cognitive frameworks is possible only if one becomes aware of them first. Again, one can become aware of these cognitive frameworks by listening nonjudgmentally and impartially to what the field says.

Last, but not least, I wanted to stimulate a debate or at least a discussion on whether our current approaches are suited to our goals. As I have explained on at least three different occasions, and in different European cities, I felt that after spending twelve years working mostly on criminal justice, I was hitting a wall that limited my comprehension of what Chinese law is. This wall was a wall made by those ideas, approaches, and techniques that are more or less taken for granted, and therefore seldom interrogated.

One of my goals is understanding what “X” means and how it works, where X may be any concept or institution in China’s legal system. If research is collaborative, then generating some debate at least was essential to achieving this goal. Because of this reason, I deliberately placed a few fallacies, and elements of internal incoherence in the draft version of the paper. Among others, I took the provocative moves of:

a) stating that a semantic equivalence between “principle” and “yuanze” exists, without performing a semantic or etymological analysis of “yuanze”. In fact, I wrote what “Seeking Truth from Facts” means, according to what some of those who use “Seeking Truth from Facts” say it means but, I never said what “yuanze” means, according to what those who write or talk about “yuanze” say it means.

b) explaining what a principle means to “Westerners” by appealing to authority. In so doing, I projected an alleged and perhaps non-existent “Western view” of what a legal principle is on China, while at the same time decrying the use of Western standards to look at Chinese law.

c) suggesting that principles are at the same time eternal unchanging truths and man-made, interpretive entities that do change over time.