Zhanping GuoChina Insight (CI):
You call this Civil Code a "green" civil code for it embraces the "green principle."  Could you please explain what aspects of the Civil Code embrace the concept of the "green principle"?

Guo: The full text of the Civil Code contains 1,260 articles, including the General Provisions, Property Rights, Contracts, Personality Rights, Marriage and Family, Inheritance, Tort Liability, and Supplementary Provisions.  There are as many as 18 articles directly related to environmental protection of resources, and the implementation of the "green principle" is mainly reflected in three aspects:

First, the idea of "green restrictions" on property rights is reflected in the property rights section, which makes it possible for coordination of property utilization activities and environmental protection goals.  The second is that in the contract provisions, "green restrictions" on contract performance are stipulated, which will help reward "green" civil transaction activities and provide a civil law basis for preventing pollution and destruction of the environment.  The third is to improve the environmental pollution and ecological damage liability system provisions in the tort liability section, which is helpful for the comprehensive investigation of environmental tort and environmental, ecological damage liability.

Furthermore, in the section of personal rights, the relevant provisions on general personal rights, life rights, and health rights also provide civil law protection basis for personal life and health damage that may be caused by environmental pollution and damage to individual citizens.

These regulations together establish "green" norms for civil activities and provide essential institutional support for the "green shift" of social production and consumer behavior, and the construction of ecological civilization.  They are significant because they not only expand the field of the "green" concept in the legal system but also promote environmental governance system.  They provide the legal principles to protect the environment, to protect pollution, and to improve enforcement and governance. 


Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government said the new National Security Law will only target “an extremely small minority.”  As with most things Beijing directed, that may be a borderline lie.

Reminiscent of Nancy Pelosi’s “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it …,” an elite group unanimously voted to pass the HK national security legislation even before they had seen a draft of it!  (Perhaps politicians the world over all do things backwards?)  The National Security Law was passed in the morning of June 30, but the full text of the legislation was not made public until just before midnight July 1, just in time “as a birthday present for Hong Kong,” as one mainland Chinese official said, in reference to the July, 1997 return of Hong Kong to China.  How utterly tactless and classless!

Already, one heavy-handed move since the law came into effect included withdrawal from circulation books authored by activists from public libraries.  “The book collection must comply with the law of Hong Kong,” a government spokeswoman said.

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The answer to that million-dollar question is not black and white. As the saying goes, “It’s complicated.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in a deep well, you would have been made aware of the Hong Kong protests in national and local media.

Where, when and how will these protests end? Will they hasten Hong Kong’s demise? Or will the million-strong protesters stave off Beijing’s power grab?

Whether we side with the pro-democracy protesters or the pro-Beijing camp, we have to admit there are differences in the way things were run in the past and now, and how things will be.

So, is Hong Kong China?

Hong Kong was ceded to the British by the Chinese as a result of being defeated in the two Opium Wars in the 1800s (1839-1842 and, again, 1856-1860). It was handed back to the Chinese in 1997 under the agreement the former British colony would enjoy another 50 years of autonomy and to be known as a Special Administrative Region (SAR). This is where China’s “One country, two systems” come into play. Hong Kong will retain its own currency, legal system (completely distinct from Beijing’s and is based on British common law) and parliamentary system until 2047. The official languages are English and Cantonese, as opposed to mainland’s Mandarin.

Culturally, too, there are differences. Hong Kong may maintain Chinese traditions and observe the many cultural festivities, its exposure to international media and influences make its citizens take on a much more metropolitan view and ideology than the Chinese in the mainland, who have known nothing but Communist rule.

In 2015, a Hong Kong designer posted a series of “Hong Kong is not China” illustrations on Facebook depicting the differences between Hong Kong and China in terms of cultural habits, socio- political, censorship, judicial structures, etc. with the purpose of telling the world how Hong Kongers differ from the Chinese mainlanders and to “Mourn the fact that Hong Kong has been ‘colonized’ by mainland China.” Albeit some may be tongue-in-cheek, differences, real or perceived, are there. Following are some illustrations from the series.

GovPols HKChina Love GovPols HKChina Legislative

By Sam Cleveland, contributor

STEMaudienceIs the United States Department of Justice targeting ethnic Chinese in economic espionage cases?  If so, is such targeting justified, or does it represent yet another noxious instance of American authorities using racial or ethnic profiling?  Is the government targeting Chinese people at all, or are ethnic Chinese just more likely to be caught up in economic espionage?

These were just some of the many thorny and difficult-to-answer questions addressed on the evening of April 4 at the event titled “Pitfalls for All STEM Professionals in a New Era of US-China Relations” at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus.  This program was co-sponsored by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, the Federal Bar Association’s Minnesota Chapter, University of Minnesota China Center, and Kingsfield Law Office.  

The evening began with a reception of approximately 200 attendees, half of whom appeared to be of Asian descent, including many recognizable leaders of Minnesota’s Chinese community.  Guests mingled with the panelists, speakers and moderator in the McNamara Center’s foyer over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  One could hear many tongues, proof of the diversity of the attendees.

By Elaine Dunn

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law are names well-known to Hong Kong democracy activists, the HK Police and, probably, Beijing.  As of January 31, they were also officially “introduced” to the Nobel Foundation, thanks to 12 U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle.  

In a move that may create more tension to an already tense U.S.-China relation, the 12 nominated Wong, Chow and Law for the Nobel Peace Prize for the trio’s efforts and leadership roles during the mostly peaceful 2014 Umbrella Revolution -- the largest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong’s history.  The three were sentenced and served prison sentences for their 2014 pro-democracy activities.

The congressmen’s letter of nomination stated, “Wong, Law and Chow and the entire ‘umbrella movement’ embody the peaceful aspirations of the people of Hong Kong who yearn to see their autonomy and way of life protected and their democratic aspirations fulfilled.”

The Nobel Peace Prize nomination is a first for Hong Kong and it could not have come at a more serendipitous time!  

Beijing has been encroaching on Hong Kong affairs increasingly.  Under Hong Kong’s “Basic Law,” (its constitution), Hong Kongers are guaranteed freedom of speech, assembly and demonstrations.  However, it is clear the rights of the three student activists were infringed upon because their activities were not acceptable to Beijing and its agenda for Hong Kong.  

By Elaine Dunn

 

“Groundbreaking…The most authoritative account of the Great Famine…One of the most important books to come out of China in recent years.” ―Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books

That is just one of many glowing reviews of “Tombstone” by Yang Jisheng, a retired reporter for Xinhua News, the Chinese state news agency.  “Tombstone” was published in November 2013 and regarded as one of the best insider’s account of the worst Mao-era missteps that caused approximately 36 million Chinese die of starvation.  Yet, the book was banned in China and the author was forbidden to travel to Harvard University to receive the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism last month.

China Daily, June 18

China's Hong Kong Legislative Council on Thursday vetoed a motion of the proposed universal suffrage for selecting the region's next chief executive in 2017.

After a nine-hour debate which started on Wednesday, 28 lawmakers of the Legislative Council voted against the motion while eight voted in favor.

By Li  Xiaokun, China Daily, May 26

On Tuesday, Beijing issued its first white paper on military strategy, ushering in greater military transparency by giving details of the direction of its military buildup to other nations.

The document of about 9,000 Chinese characters revealed a list of new expressions that have never before appeared in Chinese white papers.

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