Monday, 31 December 2007


China is the world champion in two dubious events. A Commerce Ministry official lamented that China was involved in 62 trade disputes involving anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguards in the first 11 months of 2007, claiming world title as a country under the most anti-dumping investigations in the world for the 12th consecutive year. China is also the country under the most anti-subsidy investigations in the world.

Climate Change

During the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, the Chinese delegate Xie Zhenhua called for the strengthening of the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. By that, he meant not that major developing countries would agree to hard emission reduction targets, an idea he expressly rejected, but that rich countries should take "concrete actions" in providing financial resources and technology transfer to developing countries. In environmental law terms, the idea is often known as the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". But Mr. Xie tried to reformulate it in terms that would conform perfectly with the most recent version of the Chinese Communist Party ideology -- that of a "harmonious world". Harmony is "key" to solving the climate change problem, to wit,

"Firstly, we shall keep the harmonious coexistence of man and the nature and strike the balance between economic development and environmental protection. Secondly, we shall keep the harmony among people and strike the balance between the rich and the poor. Thirdly, we shall keep the harmony among generations and strike the balance among the past, the present and the future. And fourthly, we shall keep the harmony among the countries and strike the balance among various interests."

The eloquent preaching of harmony did not seem to resonate too well at the Conference, as the Chinese delegation attacked the "impartiality" of the conference procedure towards the end of the Conference, because some participants dared to put to a vote (how outrageous!) a draft document that calls for "measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation actions" by developing countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences issued a report indicating that export of embodied energy from China has grown significantly in recent years. The finding seems to set the stage for China to argue that control of greenhouse gases should be based not on production, but consumption.

Reparation for War Crimes

A court in Shanghai held that a Japanese shipping company must pay 190 million yuan to a Chinese family for its breach of a charterparty contract during WWII. The case was said to be the first time Chinese plaintiffs have won a compensation suit against Japanese defendants over wartime misdeeds and was hailed to have set a precedent for compensation claims against Japan. The plaintiffs successfully overcame the statute of limitations in this case because of a special provision in Chinese law which allowed them to bring the lawsuit within two years after the entry into effect of the Chinese civil law statute. That window of opportunities had closed in 1989, and it is doubtful that other Chinese claimants would be able to succeed under the existing law.


Hong Kong and mainland China reportedly planned to set up a new air route between Hong Kong and Shanghai that would run only 4.2 nautical miles off the midline over the Taiwan Strait. A Taiwanese official criticised the new route as it will not only "affect flight safety but will also squeeze the manoeuvring space of our military planes".

Dispute Resolution
International Organisations

Taiwan opposed the candidacy of Zhang Yuejiao for membership of the WTO Appellate Body because of fears that she may not deal with Taiwan fairly. The objection was lifted later and Zhang became the first Chinese national to join the Appellate Body.

Huamn Rights - Death Penalty
United Nations

China found a rare common ground with the US on human rights as they both voted against a draft resolution adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly which called for "a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty." The Chinese delegate called the issue of death penalty a domestic matter and questioned the effect of the draft resolution. The American representative lent his support by saying that " it is important to recognize that international law does not prohibit capital punishment". Later, the General Assembly adopted the resolution by a vote of 104-54 with 29 abstentions.


Hundreds of Vietnamese students demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi in protest of China's administration of the Xisha and Nansha Islands. A Chinese FM spokesman suggested that Vietnam should "stop" the protests and said Vietnam held different positions on the territorial dispute at different times.

Law of Treaties

Following a high-level economic dialogue between China and Japan, Japan complained that China omitted in her press communiqué references to Japan's appeal for China to raise the RMB exchange rate and to participate in the energy charter. A Chinese FM spokesman said that the communiqué was not a joint statement, but China's own report of the event, and "so it is natural that there is something different in respective communiqués of the two sides". Japan retorted that the communiqué was indeed a joint document.