Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Dispute Settlement
Intellectual Property

After a WTO Dispute Settlement panel ruled in a case brought by the US against China for lax enforcement of IPRs, a US official called it "an important victory", while a Chinese official said "[w]e are glad to see that the WTO is in favor of the majority of Chinese initiatives." The Panel found China in breach of TRIPS rules on two of the three counts brought by the US, but dismissed an American charge that China's threshold defining "commercial-scale" piracy and counterfeiting was too high.

Law of the Sea

The US lodged a protest with China as the Pentagon complained that five Chinese ships harassed an American surveillance vessel Impeccable about 75 miles off the coast of Hainan island, where the American ship was carrying out a surveillance mission involving towing sonar equipment designed for anti-submarine warfare. In response, a Chinese FM spokesman said the US ship was conducting activities in China's EEZ without China's permission in violation of the UNCLOS and Chinese laws and regulations. The Pentagon insisted that "coastal states do not have a right under international law to regulate foreign military activities in the EEZ". Later, the US Navy reportedly sent a destroyer to protect its surveillance vessel.

Diplomatic Immunity
Hong Kong

Hong Kong Government decided that the wife of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was entitled to diplomatic immunity and would not prosecute her for assaulting a photographer who took pictures of her shopping in Kowloon.

Hong Kong

At least one British MP still seemed to take to heart Britain's "moral obligation" (or so says Emily Lau Wai-hing) to Hong Kong, as Liberal Democrat Lord Avebury attempted to grant full British citizenship to British National (Overseas) passport holders. But the move was unlikely to succeed as the British Government feared that the measure would breach the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong

The old Vietnamese refugee camps in Hong Kong used to be criticised by human rights activists as treating boatpeople like criminals. But now members of the South Asian business community in Hong Kong called on the Government to reopen refugee camps to house asylum seekers from South Asia and set up an immigration tribunal to assess asylum claims. The businessmen said asylum seekers working illegally in the city were giving the South Asian community a "bad name" and undercutting the salaries of those who worked legally. The Hong Kong Government appeared lukewarm to the idea, though.

Hong Kong

Although Thailand has an extradition treaty with Beijing, it does not apply to Hong Kong. So when Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted Thai prime minister on the run from a two-year jail sentence for corruption, planned to speak publicly in Hong Kong, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva could only threaten to seek China's help in the extradition of Thaksin. Now Hong Kong and Thailand are reportedly in advanced talks over an extradition treaty.

Human Rights - Torture
Hong Kong

A Hong Kong court ordered the SAR Government to pay HK$510,000 to four foreign asylum seekers for locking them up before claims that they might face torture if returned to their home countries had been decided.

Diplomatic Relations

Japan reportedly turned down China's wish to open up a consulate general at Okinawa out of "security concerns".