Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sida Liu: Observing the Transformation of Chinese Law (European Chinese Law Research Hub)


The folks over at the European Chinese Law Research Hub (with thanks to Marianne von Blomberg, Editor ECLR Hub, Research Associate, Chair for Chinese Legal Culture, University of Cologne) have posted  a marvelous discussion of a new work by Sida Liu (University of Toronto): Observing the Transformation of Chinese Law.

Marianne von Bloomberg explains:

In his book from the year 2000, Stanley B. Lubman famously likened the state of Chinese law since Reform and Opening set in to a bird in a cage. Today, 20 years later, Sida Liu revisits this metaphor, asking: Has law in China become the cage instead?

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the underlying premise--one of confinement.  The West prides itself on such confinement--from the confining of King John through Magna Carta, to the confinement of taboo societal impulses (racism, ageism, religious, ethnic and other forms of discrimination) through law. The liberal democratic West, it might be argued, invented both the mechanics and ideology of a cage of regulation around politics--expressed either through the political branches, or more recently by caging the scope of discretionary decision making by the administrative apparatus of public organs and (increasingly) private enterprises. The problem, of course, is that cage makers tend to prefer their own brand and to look with suspicion on the work of cage makers with quite different political-cultural sensibilities.  With that in mind, the essay provides an excellent  typology of the way in which China's cage of regulation has been constructed to do what it was meant to do--to put the party in the center, and to mold the masses in its own image.  In the process, the essay doers an excellent job of analyzing both the construction of this cage and the way that it makes the increasingly obvious differences between what is caged in the liberal democratic cages and what is caged in Chinese Marxist bird cages. Global society loves its cages of regulation--legalization remains one of the great public goods produced by the political cultures of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  But like everything else two things remain contentious--the ideologies which such legal cages materialize, and especially from the perspective of China, the gulf between the majesty of the rules on paper and its operationalization in fact. That alone makes this a must read.

I am cross posting the essay below. The original ECLRH post may be accessed HERE. And as a plug for the marvelous work at the European Chinese Law Research Hub: if you have observations, analyses or pieces of research that are not publishable as a paper but should get out there, or want to spread event information, calls for papers or job openings, or have a paper forthcoming- do not hesitate to contact Marianne von Bloomberg.


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The View From Uganda: Jonathan Kiwana -- "Put ‘climate change’ on the agenda"

 Put ‘climate change’ on the agenda

Climate change appears to be at the center of the reform agendas of influential sectors in developed states in liberal democratic and Marxist-Leninist camps. Most  of the discussions about the character of such reform naturally follows orthodox patterns--the response to climate change starts with legal reform that then is used as a normative framework through which capacity building and delegated responsibility (to economic enterprises) would produce a normalization of new sets of climate sensitive expectations and behaviors. The object here is reasonable--for the state to set a baseline through legalized mandates that then delegate operational responsibilities to the objects of the new legal baselines. The state retains its position as the source of normative production and as the apex organ of accountability and auditing of compliance (quality control). Its administrative organs than manage the range of discretion within which those enterprises onto which responsibility are delegated may construct and administer their operational systems

Pix Credit: rThomson Reuters Foundation/Alice
This is neither an unrealistic approach nor one with respect to which states (when they are used as the leading forces for effecting societal, economic, and cultural change)  are unaccustomed. Nor is it an approach without a space for contribution and development by developing states and the global south. Uganda provides an important example of such legal-economic-societal development outside of the traditional centers of such development.   



Mr Jonathan Kiwana is a senior associate at Bowmans Uganda (AF Mpanga Advocates), and I am proud to say, a former student, has written a  quite interesting essay on recent climate change related legislative and macro economics policy related efforts in Uganda.  The essay is well worth reading for its suggestion of an approach now being taken by sophisticated developing states in ways that might better reflect their realities than the models developed in the larger, richer and more powerful states further up global production chains. 

But also suggested are what will likely be second generation issues that will quickly follow after enough of these sorts of provisions find themselves into the domestic legal orders of states up and down global production chains.  These include: --coordination of national efforts along production chains, rationalization  of exceptions and constraints on blocking statutes, as well as issues of choice of law and forum when litigation is used as a means of enforcing such statutes or to advance their agendas.

The essay, "Put ‘climate change’ on the agenda," was originally published in Uganda's Daily Monitor and is re-posted below.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Markets-Based Bottom-Up Data Driven Systems of Rewards and Punishments: Proposing an Air Travel Blacklist in the United States


Pix Credit HERE


For an increasing number of people--at least among the chattering class of academics, policymakers, and their related claques--social credit, and especially its Chinese version, is viewed as either a failed experiment, or the manifestation of a legitimacy deprived  approach to the management of behavior that is worth judging badly. And yet, the temptations of social credit--understood as data driven systems of assessment whose analytics produce judgments against ideal expectations of behavior which produce rationalized systems of punishments and rewards--are great.  While those temptations align nicely with the responsibilities of the vanguard elements of society charged with its guidance through the organs of state in Marxist Leninist states, they align even better with the responsibilities of market actors who are increasingly charged with the responsibility for the protection of the integrity of the social order and the advancement of its norms, articulated through the performance  of providing societal consumables.  (Discussed earlier and in more detail HERE).

That temptation toward markets-driven social credit bound up in the rights related structures of responsible business conduct is now overwhelming for key actors in critical industrial sectors in the United States. Consider this:

Delta Air Lines is calling for an industry wide effort to keep passengers  from boarding competitors' flights after being banned for disruptive behavior. . . "We've also asked other airlines to share their 'no fly' list to further protect airline employees across the industry," Delta said in a memo last week. "A list of banned customers doesn't work well if that customer can fly with another airline." (Michael Laris, "Delta Calls for Air Carriers to Share Names of Unruly Passengers," Washington Post (26 Sept. 2021), p. A20).)

So, at least one large air carrier is now lobbying public opinion for the imposition not just of a social credit system (passenger behavior based), but a system of rewards and punishments based on an assessment o triggering points for bad behavior (unruliness) that would apply system wide. And perhaps with good reason: "Delta Air Lines has 1,600 passengers on its no-fly list. United Airlines reportedly has more than 1,000 on its own banned-from-flying list. American, JetBlue, Southwest, Hawaiian and Alaskan airlines all have their own lists of personae non gratae." (Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, "Delta is Asking Airlines to Share their No-Fly Lists," Forbes (25 Sept. 2021)).

It makes one appreciate the irony of the self righteous reporting of similar no fly back lists (aligned with Chinese values and idealized behavior norms) when developed for Chinese citizens (here, and here). But there, perhaps, the fight isn't as much about the systems of data driven governance, as it is about the values advanced by such systems--and as well by the entities charged with its administration. And there the double irony.  In the United States, it appears that it is the state that appears to stand in the way of markets in the construction and administration of such systems (again without taking a position on whether this is a good or bad thing).  First, the state apparatus is ill equipped to manage this aspect of behavior given the tools at ist disposal and its cultures of administrative operation. 

Historically, the FAA has tended to deal with unruly passengers by doling out warnings or civil penalties. In January, the agency announced that it was ramping up its game with a much stricter, “zero-tolerance” policy toward passengers who are disruptive on flights, but the very premise of zero tolerance is laughable.  The FAA is clearly ill-equipped to deal with the sheer volume of air rage incidents. So far this year, the agency initiated 755 investigations, which is more than double the number of cases opened in 2019 and 2020 combined but only 17% of all reported incidents in 2021. (Kelleher, "Delta is Asking Airlines to Share their No-Fly Lists, above).

But worse, from the perspective of the societal expectations  of enterprise conduct respecting the physical safety of its passengers, is that the state apparatus appears unable or as yet unwilling to devolve authority to those charged with enforcement at the operational level--a reluctance that is odd given the trajectories of delegation expectation generally in the context of human rights related expectations of business responsibility. 

At a House Transportation Committee hearing Thursday to address  what officials called a "surge in air rage," Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) pressed a representative of Airlines for America, an industry trade group, on whether one airline can share its list of banned passengers with another airline. Lauren Beyer, the group's vice president for security and facilitation, said that "there are legal and operational challenges with airlines sharing those lists amongst one another." . . . Citing the problems, Beyer raised, DeFazio said, "Maybe we can have the FAA create a database and they can ask people to post to that, and then airlines can access it in the future." (Laris, "Delta Calls for Air Carriers to Share Names of Unruly Passengers," above).
And so, in the end, the impulse in the United States appears to align with that of China--the solution is not markets based social credit, but state directed mechanisms the operational authority with respect to which is then devolved to business.  Interestingly, the airlines already share such information with the state--but the administrators at the FAA appear unwilling to change the manner in which they  operate. And in a way that suggests opaqueness of governments in liberal democratic bureaucratic organs, the "FAA spokesman declined to say how many names of banned passengers it has received or how the agency uses that information." (Ibid.). Instead, the FAA offered only this: "Representatives of the FAA met this week with representatives of the airlines to discuss ways to reduce unruly behavior, and asked the airlines to commit to more action. The FAA had earlier asked airports to work with local law enforcement on criminal prosecutions." (Kathryn Krupnik, Allison Elyse Gualtieri, "Delta has banned more than 1,600 unruly passengers. Now, it wants airlines to share ban lists," CBS News (23 September 2021)). 

Thus this curious path of markets based social credit, of data driven governance measures, continues in liberal democratic states from the bottom up and then back again. The pattern however, is unmistakable.  Data driven governance  is propelled not merely by the need to manage behaviors, but by the way in which such a need is increasingly served  through devolution of operational level responsibility to enterprises, and its normative construction through the language of rights (of individuals) and the duties (of enterprises and other institutions) for the care of individuals and for the use of institutional interactions for capacity building through the naturalization of expected behavior rules  through systems of punishments and rewards.   Smoking--one can find one's access to credit limited, health care more expensive and employment more difficult; politically deviant  (as these things are measured here) expression--one can find access to wage labor markets reduced, and one cut off from access to virtual associations on platforms for such expression.  The key here is that accountability, and coordination occurs at the public level (and within administrative organs also responsible for the delineation of normative baselines (and thus the ideal against which quantifiable behaviors are measured)) and the operationalization of that guidance (including their interpretation subject to the discipline of accountability measures) by operational level entities are centered mostly in and through markets and markets level behaviors. 

So what is Delta Airlines proposing and the FAA structuring? Data driven platform governance.  The airlines are the platform's consumers and providers. They provide the data necessary for the operation of the platform; they then extract through the application of their own analytics a subset of data (passengers) who meet threshold criteria of unruliness (meeting definitions that might be their own, or developed by agreement with other air carriers, or formulated by the administrative organ, the FAA) which generates a conclusion based on alignment with triggering thresholds (eg severe enough) to be placed on a list of passengers banned from flying on the carrier. The state provides the platform (the space into which data is deposited, curated, and made available to a small group of users  who are also data providers) which also serves as the space within which the state (through the FAA for example) coordinates data gathering, analytics, and rewards and punishments.  It elaborates this coordination process by a variety of means--from developing the standards and definitions of triggering events generating data points for submission to the platform (regulating and defining unruliness and responses), to managing air carriers in their roles as and through their offering of data (unruliness reports).  These also serve as a means of quality control and for the management of the providers' own systems of data generation and the preservation of system integrity. The platform serves as well as the site through which structuring principles and objectives may be inserted (goal of reducing reports of unruliness by some measure, with a devolution of responsibility for developing systems that meet these goals unto the carriers). What was once an administrative, bureaucratized regulatory system overseen by bureaucracies exercising quasi prosecutorial, judicial, and legislative authority has been transformed into an interactive platform within which governance is dependent on the quantification of normative goals realized through identifiable tasks, defined  through the process of data generation and analysis. What one now has is the rudiments of platform governance and the transformation of the older cruder social credit impulse into something potentially far more transformative.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

21. Conversations About the Book "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': Chapter 20 (Monday 18 November 2019) Open-Shut (bai he 稗閤) Strategies: 习近平;止暴制乱 恢复秩序是香港当前最紧迫的任务 [Xi Jinping; Stopping the storm and restoring order is Hong Kong's most urgent task at present])



“言有尽而意无穷” [Words and meanings are endless]. 

In the run up to the book launch scheduled for 13 July 2021 (registration required but free HERE), the folks at Little Sir Press have organized a series of short conversations about my new book, "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'." 

About the Book: Hong Kong Between “One Country” and “Two Systems” examines the battle of ideas that started with the June 2019 anti-extradition law protests and ended with the enactment of the National Security and National Anthem Laws a year later. At the center of these battles was the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. By June 2020, the meaning of that principle was highly contested, with Chinese authorities taking decisive steps to implement their own understanding of the principle and its normative foundations , and the international community taking countermeasures. All of this occurred well before the 2047 end of the 1985 Sino-British Joint Declaration (中英联合声明) that had been the blueprint for the return of Hong Kong to China. Between these events, global actors battled for control of the narrative and of the meaning of the governing principles that were meant to frame the scope and character of Hong Kong’s autonomy within China. The book critically examines the conflict of words between Hong Kong protesters, the Chinese central and local authorities, and important elements of the international community. This decisive discursive contest paralleled the fighting for control of the streets and that pitted protesters and the international community that supported them against the central authorities of China and Hong Kong local authorities. In the end the Chinese central authorities largely prevailed in the discursive realm as well as on the streets. Their victory was aided, in part by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. But their triumph also produced the seeds of a new and potentially stronger international constitutional discourse that may reduce the magnitude and scope of that success. These essays were written as the events unfolded. Together the essays analytically chronicle the discursive battles that were fought, won and lost, between June 2019 and June 2020. Without an underlying political or polemical agenda, the essays retain the freshness of the moment, reflecting the uncertainties of the time as events unfolded. What was won on the streets of Hong Kong from June to December 2019, the public and physical manifestation of a principled internationalist and liberal democratic narrative of self-determination, and of civil and political rights, was lost by June 2020 within a cage of authoritative legality legitimated through the resurgence of the normative authority of the state and the application of a strong and coherent expression of the principled narrative of its Marxist-Leninist constitutional order. Ironically enough, both political ideologies emerged stronger and more coherent from the conflict, each now better prepared for the next.

The book may be purchased through AMAZON (kindle and paperback),  book information including free chapters  and the access to all video conversations HERE.

I am delighted, then, to make available the next in the series of video recordings of conversations about the book with my former research assistant Matthew McQuilla (Penn State International Affairs MIA 2021). Today we discuss Chapter Chapter 20 (Monday 18 November 2019) Open-Shut (bai he 稗閤) Strategies: 习近平;止暴制乱 恢复秩序是香港当前最紧迫的任务 [Xi Jinping; Stopping the storm and restoring order is Hong Kong's most urgent task at present]). 

This Chapter considers the way that the Chinese central authorities sought to project their discursive approaches to the situation in Hong Kong. Those discursive projections were of significant importance for their contribution to efforts to characterize the protesters as lawless and their aims as lacking legitimacy, providing an authoritative basis for the response of police; rejecting the application of international law and norms to the situation in Hong Kong, and reinforcing a very specific view of the concept of sovereignty and the way it empowered China and disempowered everyone else in the management of Hong Kong affairs. The centerpiece of this effort, projected outward months after the start of the protests was remarks by Xi Jinping at the BRICS leaders meeting in Brasilia. The chapter then looks at these remarks from the perspective of meaning making and for its resonance with ancient Chinese rhetorical strategies. This is precisely what Xi offers to the BRICS leaders in Brasilia. For the protesters, there is only the small--the way of the criminal, the storm that damages but does not destroy, that threatens but which must be resisted. But to his friends in the community of BRICS states he offers a solidarity grounded in the lofty values of sovereignty, security and development around which he wraps a Chinese One Country-Two Systems principle.


 The video of the conversation about Chapter 20 may be accessed HERE.

All conversations are posted to the Coalition for Peace & Ethics YouTube page and may be found on its Playlist: Talking About the Book: "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'." All conversation videos are hosted by Little Sir Press. I hope you find the conversation of some use. 

A pre-publication version of some of the book chapters may be accessed (free) on the Book's webpage (here). All videos may also be accessed through the Little Sir Press Book Website HERE.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

"Conceptualizing the Emerging Structure of Transnational Governance in the Age of Divided Sovereignty: The Hong Kong SAR 2019-2020" Presentation at the 15th European China Law Studies Association Conference



I was delighted to be able to participate in this year's 15th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association, this year offered in hybrid form bit situated at the University of Warsaw (with thanks to Piotr Grzebyk.  For more information about ECLSA 15 see HERE.   My presentation is part of an excellent panel: "New Actors and Dynamics in Transnational Law: Moving Borders and Changing Concepts of Borders, Demos and Territory" and includes presentations from  (1) Dini Sejko (Chinese University of Hong Kong) Investment Screening Mechanisms as guardians of economic sovereignty; and (2)  Joel Slawotsky (IDC Hezilya) US-China Hegemonic Rivalry’s Impact on the Emerging Architecture.

My presentation, Conceptualizing the Emerging Structures of Transnational Governance in the Age of Sovereignty — The Hong Kong SAR 2019-2020, build on themes that I discussed in my recently published book, Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems'  (Little Sir Press, 2021) (more information and free chapters, video interviews and order information HERE). 

The focus of the presentation is sovereignty.  More specifically it considers how the protests in Hing Kong from 2019 and the responses of the protesters, of the Chinese central authorities, and of the international community, has contributed to potential changes, some substantial, in conversations about the meaning of sovereignty and the expectations of behaviors around the concept.  More specifically, Hong Kong's protests highlighted the way that sovereignty has acquired a perhaps new dimension of contestation. I examine three distinctive approaches to sovereign governance (and their implications) that played a role in the narrative battles around the Hong Kong protests of 2019-2020. The first centers on internal sovereign partitioning under or within a superior national constitutional order. The second looks at the emergence of external sovereign partitioning under or within international law or norms. The third shared sovereign in a post-global hybrid order of states and global production. Each has consequences for the way in which the protests in Hong Kong could be understood and each suggests the opportunities and constraints that follow (for territorial sovereigns, for autonomy seeking local populations, and for the international community).

The PowerPoint of the presentation follows. and maybe accessed HERE

Friday, September 24, 2021

Itemizing the "Black Hand" (黑手) of Foreign (US) Interference in the Internal Affairs of Chinese Hong Kong: The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry Issues its "100 Points " List


Pix Credit: HERE

 The Chinese central authorities have developed the theme of the  "Black Hand" (黑手) of Foreign (US) Interference in the Internal Affairs of China's Administration of Hong Kong as a central element in its construction of what they hope will become the dispositive counter narrative of the "story" of the Hong Kong protests of 2019 and of the appropriateness and legitimacy of the responses of the central authorities from then to the present (See, e.g., Chinese foreign minister claims 'black hand' of Western ... - CNN (June 2019); China tells US to remove 'black hands' from Hong Kong (July 2019); China Claims US 'Black Hand' Is Behind Hong Kong Protests (August 2019); 'black hand' behind Hong Kong protests, as National  (November 2019);  China's foreign minister says at symposium US has ... - CNBC(December 2019) and so on).  See also discussion in my book Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems' (2021); chapters 7, 8, and 16.

That is fair.  It is also necessary in the face of a fairly powerful internationalist narrative constructed by the liberal democratic states around the issue of divided sovereignty, of the nature of autonomy, of the role of international law in mediating between territorial and operational sovereignty, and in the role of the international community in the construction and protection of international law (including human rights law and norms).  The contest for narrative control--for justificatory stories that legitimate the political decisions taken have produced both the National Security and National Anthem Laws on the Chinese side and a series of strategic targeted sanctions (the liberal democratic camp's version of punishing black hands) and public condemnations on the liberal democratic camp side.  It has also painted the Chinese central authorities, from early on, as the "black hand" (黑手) stirring trouble and causing unrest (The blackest hand in Hong Kong is Beijing's | The Japan Times (September 2019).

Definitive control of narrative authority is still contested. That control is worth fighting for.  It serves now as a proxy for evolving orthodox global consensus on the nature of sovereignty, the extent to which operational sovereignty may be detached from or controlled by and through international norms, law or agreements, standards for political engagement, the lawfulness of the use of force by the state (and remedial possibilities at the international level), and the like. 

It is not surprising, then, that the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry would release--IN ENGLISH (projection outward to international community)-- its Fact Sheet: U.S. Interference in Hong Kong Affairs and Support for Anti-China, Destabilizing Forces (2021-09-24) (Chinese version HERE, and below). The list is an important document for several reasons.  First it serves to develop the evidentiary "case" for foreign interference. Second, it seeks to normalize the fundamental premise that gives weight to the evidence listed--the principle that such action necessarily must be interpreted as interference rather than as internationalist responses to national ultra vires acts, that is that the fundamental interpretive principal is sovereignty privileging rather than international norms and responsibilities privileging. Third, it is meant to serve to de-legitimate the use of targeted sanctions against Chinese officials and enterprises (and thus to ease the pressure that is propelling de facto global de coupling of trade and production). 

These themed objectives are apparent from the organization of interference.   

1. Enacting Hong Kong-related Acts, vilifying China's policy on Hong Kong, meddling in Hong Kong affairs, and wantonly interfering in China's internal affairs 

 II. Imposing sanctions in an attempt to obstruct the implementation in Hong Kong of the Hong Kong National Security Law and relevant decisions of China's National People's Congress (NPC)

 III. Making unfounded charges against HKSAR affairs and law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong police in an attempt to undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability

IV. Shielding and supporting those who are opposed to China and attempt to destabilize Hong Kong, providing platforms for them to advocate "Hong Kong independence" and spread political disinformation, and justifying the acts of those lawbreakers by twisting facts and misleading the public.

 V. Colluding with some countries to exert pressure, and teaming up with allies to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and make irresponsible comments by such means as joint statements.

Of these, the third, "making unfounded charges" is the richest in terms of evidence, but perhaps the thinnest from the perspective of interference; the world itself might be understood as engaging in a constant confrontation with unfounded charges and refuting them in virtually every aspect or organized life.  What adds weight here, though is the intentional nature of the acts--that the unfounded charges were made deliberately to deceive and manipulate the unsuspecting--charges also leveled against the Chinese central authorities by the liberal democratic states in other matters. The fifth--a charge of effective multilateralism effectively is meant to serve the protection of Chinese internationalist principles developed and expressed with greater force since 2015 by Xi Jinping and now an important element of Chinese internationalism (win-win; mutually beneficial cooperation; and community of common destiny). The themes also touch on key elements of Communist internationalism built into the political vanguard's Basic Line. One sees the thrust here: that the organization of the evidence around carefully crafted themes  suggests not merely that the interference was calculated but that it amounted to something like a concerted quasi aggression (which itself threatens sovereignty and has consequences under international law). But taken together they are meant to underline and further the normalization of the Chinese  view of the normative structure of sovereignty, and more importantly, of the responsibilities of states in accordance with this vision.  That comes out quite clearly in the statement of Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's response to a likely well rehearsed question at the opening of his 24 September press conference (Chinese & English; 2021年9月24日外交部发言人赵立坚主持例行记者会).

This "triple purpose" approach is important for Chinese policy objectives; but it may be missed by those states against which it is directed. The usual response, and one nicely evidenced in reporting from Reuters (China draws up list of 100 instances of U.S. "interference" in Hong Kong) that suggests both the need to dutifully report the release but to enfold it in the narratives of the internationalist camp and in the process reduce its central elements to propaganda and its fundamental claim to irrelevance. But that might be a mistake. The "points of interference" themselves provide an important venue for engaging with the largely understudied question of the difference between engagement and interference.  That engagement, in turn, requires a further engagement with the issues of the prerogatives of sovereignty in the context of both globalization and a world order in which sovereign "walls" are both porous and penetrated through treaties, conventions, working relationships, the overarching moves toward "free movement" regimes, and the rise of transnational production and societal regimes.  These realities--grounded in waivers and changes in both the nature of and justifications for sovereign exclusivity, require a broader reassessment.  But it is one in which all states, including China, ought to be able to energetically debate. But transparently.

The Fact Sheet: U.S. Interference in Hong Kong Affairs and Support for Anti-China, Destabilizing Forces (2021-09-24) follows along with the announcement by  in the form of an answer to a question posed by a CCTV Reporter at Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's 24 September press conference (Chinese & English; 2021年9月24日外交部发言人赵立坚主持例行记者会).

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Critical Consideration of the UN Working Group for Business and Human Rights Report (2021) - Role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses

Pix Credit: Council of Europe--Paris Principles at 25.

The UN Working Group for Business and Human Rights has served, since the start of its operations a decade ago, as an important nexus point for the construction of what ought to pass as business and human rights orthodoxy. That orthodoxy, managed through the UN apparatus in Geneva and augmented by the great influencers among the business, NGO, academic, and national and international public organizational apparatus, has been instrumental in steering the potential built into the core document around which their work is organized--the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights--in quite specific ways. In the process, of course the potential of the UNGP have been both narrowed (the inherent quality of interpretive choices) and steered. That steering is guiding by ideologies that are at once both exogenous to the UNGP's themselves, and meant to be embedded in them through the process of constructing a rationalization of UNGP interpretation, and building an operational ecology of bureaucratized (and to some extent legalized) administrative organs (without regard to their legal or political status) to solidify interpretive "facts" through deepening patterns of conduct that then produce custom, tradition, and expectation. None of that ought to be taken as a criticism--it serves merely as an observation, and a reminder (critical to useful analysis) of what is usually built into the subterranean assumptions, motives, psychology, and agendas that are an altogether human and ancient reflex in the construction, elaboration and management of human centered collectives. 

The diligence of that long term project is nicely and currently evidenced in the Working Group's Report: Role of national human rights institutions in facilitating access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses (A/HRC/47/39/Add.3; 22 June 2021). The Report very efficiently develops the objectives for which it was written--to further elaborate a role, one based on the state based duty to protect, the transposition of an institutional responsibility  to respect human rights, and both coordinated with a duty-responsibility to enhance an augmented understanding of remedial functionality vested in such organs.The effort is deeply embedded in larger work of the UN organs respecting National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). This work, in turn, is undertaken in the shadow of the Paris Principles (Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (The Paris Principles) General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993). Yet in the process the Working Group manages to highlight not merely aspirational goals for an idealized Human Rights organ within an idealized administrative state, but also, sadly, the structural incapacities of the current model to even come close to moving in that direction.

To those ends, the Report seeks to advance three broad points.  The first touches on the dual nature or duty-responsibility.  These include a (and non-negotiable)  role of NHRIs in managing adverse human rights impacts. It also includes the expansion of a set of positive obligations (proactive in character) to use their authority to push forward specific rights enhancing based agendas that align national and international human rights policy-norms. The second describes three distinct pathways toward NHRI compliance with its duty-responsibility. The foundational pathway centers on the traditional institutional projects of raising awareness and advancing legislative agendas. Another, indirect, pathway focuses on the support of key stakeholders to whom human rights related work has been given (by the state) or taken (in the absence of delegation).  These include supporting human rights defenders, and developing proactive and strategic monitoring and reporting frameworks, and in providing assistance in the navigation of domestic legal orders for the enhancement of the scope of remedial protection. The third, direct, pathway, focuses on broadening the wok of NHRI to reach the limits of their mandates, and perhaps to press against those limits. That pushing might include transforming NHRI from a bureaucratic to a remedial organ in its own right by providing some sort of remedial pathway through a complaints  process of some sort. The Report then considers the gap between the ideal indicated by this pathways taxonomy with the realities of the development of NHRI organs globally. Lastly, and in keeping with the discursive style of such documentary productions, the Report offers up its insights in the form of a large number of Recommendations (¶¶ 61-91).    

The Report follows. It is rich with informaiton, and also with possibility.  It is also rich with critique, with which I engage in my brief comments, also set out below. 

Teatro Económico -- Arturo López-Levy Conversando con Ernesto Soberón, Director General de DACRE (Minrex-Cuba)



De parte de Artuor López-Levy:
Les comparto link al video de mi programa "Conversaciones Americanas" donde Ernesto Soberon anunció descentralizacion a las autoridades locales de la decisión de constituir MPYME's y proyectos de cooperacion con capital de cubanos en el exterior. Un paso como ese fue considerado de importancia estrategica en la relacion con los emigrados en China y Vietnam.y de importancia relevante dentro de la reforma económica en el lanzamiento de empresas locales a nivel de ciudad, pueblos y villss, espacios donde se alcanzaron los mayores incrementos de productividad Obvio que habria que ver la implementación, pero sugiero que es algo de notar.




Tuesday, September 21, 2021

In Memoriam: John Gerard Ruggie (1944-2021)


This now iconic picture of John Ruggie ((18 October 1944 – 16 September 2021)  Berthold Beitz Research Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School., and best remembered as the UN. Secretary-General's Special Representative for Business and Human Rights is perhaps the way that John might have wanted to be remembered.  It certainly is the way that many of us will freeze his image in our minds--thumbs up, empathically intense, and persuasively speaking at the highest levels of the United Nations in the service of what had once been dismissed as an unattainable goal--the development of a framework for managing the human rights impacts of economic activities by states and business, and the framework for the provision of remedies for those suffering human rights harms. 

The Coalition for Peace & Ethics mourns his passing even as we celebrate a life well lived.  John was able to do something quite remarkable--he made revolutionary transformations seem not just perfectly ordinary.  He listened; he listened harder when what he was hearing took him outside his comfort zone.  He had an exquisite sense of the politically possible.  And he was able to reassure people; to make them feel comfortable and to trust his judgment even when it might have collided with their own presumptions.  I saw him work his magic often.  I enjoyed the humor and sense of irony that made our times together so delightful. And it was always a lesson learned to see how respectful John was, even of of who might not share his views. But mostly, for us at least here at the Coalition for Peace and Ethics, it was John's humanity that made possible the synergies of the efforts of countless people all of whose talents he was able to marshal in the accomplishments of the great tasks of changing the way in which important collectives now see and understand economic activity specifically, and the role of humanity on this planet more generally.

In retrospect, it was an almost seamless transition from the global compact and Millennium Development Goals to what became the three pillar framework of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and the Sustainability Development Goals.  But at the time  connecting those dots would have been nothing short of miraculous. Both tracks--the one focusing on the human rights effects of economic activity, the other eventually to provide a mechanism for reframing the way in which humanity related to the world around it as it fashions its collectives and seeks through them to provide people with better and more fulfilling lives (however that is measured)--eventually changed the direction and of and baseline for thinking about the human in economic activity, and the planet in human activity. Global collectives still fight (euphemistically engage in passionate debate about) what this means--and developing meaning and narratives around these baseline concepts and its foundational frameworks now occupy a lot of time--but all of that engagement is now undertaken within the meaning framework that John was instrumental in building and in getting critical actors to embrace (however grudgingly, for whatever ends, and for however short a time).  For that alone, John secured his place as one of the great leaders of the transition of thinking about economic activity and about humanity's role as a tenant on this planet.

John distrusted rigidity; he was wary of empty legalism; and he saw through the inhibiting pantomime of replicating past practices onto current realities.  He planned for the future, respectful of the past but unwilling to serve merely as the person who dressed the present in the increasingly ill fitting corsets of  (what for many were and for some still are) the comforting  remembrances of the past. That fearlessness, that principled pragmatism as he liked to call it (the term was meant to give comfort to those who were more fearful of losing their mooring in the past even as they understood the transformations emerging in the present and looking forward to a changed future landscape), opened the door to several key innovations. These innovations, so radical just a short time ago, now appear increasingly ordinary in the political, legal, societal and economic fields.  Among them was the decisive role of private law as the great engine for filling the governance gaps of transnational economic activity.  With that came the acceptability (still contested to be sure) of the principle of polycentricity in governance and the recognition that plural sources of law, norms and expectations would have to be given effect, navigated, and could be used as the basis for prevention, mitigation and remedial strategies at the heart of the UNGP framework.  Along with that came the acknowledge of the power of markets (rather than, in tandem with, or without the apparatus of public law) to order behavior and to construct and manage expectations of positive behavior  respecting human rights (and eventually sustainability). And lastly, and perhaps most remarkably, the recognition that states, non-state actors, and enterprises might each serve regulatory roles both in the construction of normative orders, and in its enforcement that would not be dependent entirely on states. 

For all of this--for making respectable and ordinary what before 2005 would have seemed impossible, we salute John. He will be remembered.  His example will serve as a guide for those of us who will come after.  And lastly, his dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the dignity of individuals, of their collectives, and of the earth on which such activity is possible, ought to serve future generations as the baseline premise for continuing to develop the structures of human rights and sustainability respectful systems of collective human organization.   To his family and friends, our deepest condolences. Rest in peace. 

Coalition for Peace & Ethics

European China Law Studies Association 15th Annual Conference 24-26 September



The 15th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association will be taking place this coming 24-26 September.  It is offered in hybrid form this year and hosted by the Polish Research Center for Law and Economy of China, the University of Warsaw and its  School of Law and Economy of China. Great thanks to the University of Warsaw's Piotr Grzebyk, dr hab., Vice Dean for Legal Research and International Cooperation who was instrumental in making this possible.

ECLS 2021 Conference takes the form of a hybrid event that combines a “live” in-person meeting with a “virtual” online component (ZOOM platform). The venue for in-person participants is the Collegium Iuridicum II building (Faculty of Law and Administration University of Warsaw) at Lipowa 4 street in Warsaw. ECLS Warsaw conference is financially supported by Centrum Analiz Legislacyjnych i Gospodarczych within Poland’s Ministry of Education and Science programme named “Doskonała Nauka”. 

Many very interesting presentations on topics that will have a wide impact beyond China.  My own presentation (Sunday 26 September 15:10-16:40 GMT+2 Warsaw) is drawn from my book, Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems' (Little Sire Press, 2021) and considers the way that Hong Kong provided a site for the further development of a post-global theory of fractured sovereignty, one that distinguishes between ultimate territorial sovereignty (the conceptual integrity of the state) and operational sovereignty (the sources of authority for and the standards under which a sub-sovereign territory's administration may be managed, controlled and organized).  The development of this idea represents an interesting innovation of constitutional internationalism and suggests ways in which globalization has made porous not just borders but systems for the administration of territories. Chinese responses to this challenge suggest an alternative and much more conventionally traditional approach to the issues posed by 'automous regions'.

The program follows below.


Monday, September 20, 2021

Robin Hui Huang: The Cornerstones of China’s Fintech Regulation (European Chinese Law Research Hub)

The folks over at the European Chinese Law Research Hub (with thanks to Marianne von Blomberg, Editor ECLR Hub, Research Associate, Chair for Chinese Legal Culture, University of Cologne) have posted  a marvelous discussion of a new work by Robin Hui Huang (Chinese University of Hong Kong) on The Cornerstones of China’s Fintech Regulation.

Marianne von Bloomberg explains:
Financial technology has abruptly become a key challenge for China's regulators and legislators in the past decade. Robin Hui Huang, Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, now presents a first systematic analysis of Fintech regulation in China in his new book.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is his discussion of the challenges of fintech regulation which seeks to balance a goal of facilitating financial innovation and market development on the one hand, with the risk aversion natural to the administrative apparatus of state agencies, in this case in the (usual) service of investor protection.This sets up the core question: " whether we can still use the traditional regulatory framework for Fintech, or we need to think outside the box and introduce a new one specifically for Fintech? "

I am cross posting the essay below. The original ECLRH post may be accessed HERE. And as a plug for the marvelous work at the European Chinese Law Research Hub: if you have observations, analyses or pieces of research that are not publishable as a paper but should get out there, or want to spread event information, calls for papers or job openings, or have a paper forthcoming- do not hesitate to contact Marianne von Bloomberg.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Algorithmic Corruption: The Case of the World Bank and its Ratings Systems

Pix Credit 1902 Cartoon of a more ancient form of corruption; HERE

Pix Credit: HERE
Since the Enlightenment and the rise of narratives of quantitative divinity in the West, it has become common to deepen cultural presumptions that (1) numbers do not lie; (2) that data serves as its own defense against corruption; (3) and that "following the science" inevitably serves the community as protection against the corruption of discretionary governance by humans.  As a consequence cultures grounded in metrics, in quantitative assessment, and in the fortune telling of predictive analytics has come to dominate an administrative culture now rebuilt to satisfy collective desires to manage virtually every aspect of human life. That management, itself is a function of the mathematics of self-reflexive measure of collective action by reference to its own statistics, and related to that, by using this self-reflexivity (we measure ourselves for and by reference to ourselves  and in that way identify deviance and promote conformity with the core) to shift  the center of desired "bell curves" in the "right" direction. Ratings systems do that--establishing hierarchies of aggregations of measurable activity against a desired ideal. A related mathematics is applied to the science of accountability, of measuring performance against ideals or (better put) expectations; or even better put of conduct relative to that of others ((a bell curve without an anchor in a defining ideal, but one that produces substantial pressure to change behavior to conform to the center (or in hierarchical modalities in which measurement is meant to push aggregated behaviors of the community) toward the right side cluster of outliers meant eventually to define the center of the curve. 

Pix Credit (HERE)
But the language and meaning making projects of mathematics is as corruptible as any other human activity.  That corruption can infect the entire process of algorithmic governance (even in its form as ratings systems based nudging and embedding of values) is hardly surprising.  That  it can compromise the entire process of quantification--from the determination of the data to be collected, to the preservation of its legitimacy (issues of data robustness), to the development and application of analytics, and to the way that the rules are developed and applied to add judgment to the results of the exercise of analytics on data--ought to be less surprising still. The stakes can be quite high--and the size of the stakes suggests the central importance of algorithmic governance as an important site for creating facts, for disciplining behavior, and for managing the overarching structures of rules (law) through which the administrative governance of quantitative management is undertaken. And always at the center of these forces are the human elements and their institutional manifestations--individuals, internal and external institutional systems, and the competitions among individuals and institutions (including states) within managed systems of hierarchical  status based authority. To manage algorithmic governance one must first manage the people who tend to or control such systems. To manage people one returns to the ancient problem of the socialization of context-appropriate societal values--or in their absence, aggressive systems of accountability grounded in the principle that it must be presumed that people cannot be trusted. And to meet the challenge of context specific socialization one returns (again) to the naturalization of values and the construction of  societal inducements to conform to those values (a problem of social credit in China and of data driven nudging rewards and punishments though markets in the West).  All of this is a work in progress with resistance as strong as the societal forces that appear to be pushing human collectives in the direction of well managed values enhancing systems of quantified  data based governance.

Pix Credit HERE
One thing is clear--such layered and multiple systems will not come cheap and they will be as complex as the underlying model of algorithmic governance (including modeling and predictive analytics). Another is that the business of data driven government is as messy as they of making law.In both cases the human element--the constant negotiation on several levels--personal, institutional, trans-institutional, social, and transnational--all operate to create a sociology of quantitative metrics and their analytics that is every bit as susceptible to politics (understood in this context sometimes as the corruption of the algorithm, though it merely points to its ultimate failure as another product of humanity striving to overcome its own humanity) as traditional bureaucratic regulations and the lawmaking among bodies of elected officials.

On 16 September, the World Bank Group distributed a statement  (World Bank Group to Discontinue Doing Business Report) admitting "data irregularities on Doing Business 2018 and 2020" that resulted in the "initiat[ion of] a series of reviews and audits of the report and its methodology" as well the the activation of "the Bank’s appropriate internal accountability mechanisms." As a consequence of the invocation of these accountability and audit mechanisms, and on the basis of a Report submitted by members of the Law firm of Wilmer Culter Pickering Hale & Dorr, "the Board of Executive Directors, World Bank Group management has taken the decision to discontinue the Doing Business report." A Statement on Release of Investigation into Data Irregularities in Doing Business 2018 and 2020 then followed. 

Today, the World Bank provides an excellent example of both the importance and corruptibility of quantitative systems, and of their repercussions.  But at the same time, the World Bank example suggests the development of those metrics--of those qualitative as well as quantitative measures-- that are being operationalized, at least in some sort of conceptual form, as a toolkit of those quality control (accountability) measures now necessary to reduce (to tolerable levels) systemic corruption in a way that parallels the use of the process of administrative oversight in law based systems. Nonetheless, the ancient problem remains--the corruption of the human individual at the center of the effort.

The WilmerHale Report got to the heart of the issues that the World Bank thought too indelicate to more clearly specify in its statements:

1. On January 20, 2021, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“the Bank”) engaged our firm to review the internal circumstances at the Bank that contributed to the data irregularities identified in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports. To that end, we undertook to understand: (1) how improper changes to the data for China (Doing Business 2018) and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Azerbaijan (Doing Business 2020) were effected; (2) who at the Bank directed, implemented, or knew about the changes to the data and how their direction or pressure manifested; and (3) what internal circumstances, whether related to policies, personnel, or culture, allowed for the changes to take place.
2. Building on investigative work undertaken by the Bank’s Office of Ethics and Business Conduct (“EBC”), our review has proceeded on two investigative tracks simultaneously: The first focused on the ethical aspects of conduct relating to Board officials and was conducted pursuant to the Code of Conduct for Board Officials; the second focused on potential misconduct by Bank staff members and was conducted pursuant to applicable Staff Rules and Directives. . .  Over the course of our investigation, our team collected roughly five million documents from Bank employees; reviewed 80,000 of those documents most likely to contain relevant information; and interviewed more than three dozen current and former Bank employees.(WilmerHale Report ¶¶ 1-2).

The factual conclusions included politically sensitive conclusions:

27. The changes to China’s data in Doing Business 2018 appear to be the product of two distinct types of pressure applied by Bank leadership on the Doing Business team: (1) pressure—both direct and indirect—applied by senior staff in the Office of the President, presumably at the direction of President Kim, to change the report’s methodology in an effort to boost China’s score; and (2) pressure applied by CEO Georgieva and her advisor, Mr. Djankov, to make specific changes to China’s data points in an effort to increase its ranking at precisely the same time the country was expected to play a key role in the Bank’s capital increase campaign.

* * *

33. The evidence demonstrated that the changes to Saudi Arabia’s and UAE’s data in Doing Business 2020 was likely the result of efforts by a senior Bank staff member to achieve a desired outcome and reward Saudi Arabia for the important role it played in the Bank community, including its significant and ongoing RAS projects. (Ibid).

And these were followed by a series of recommendations respecting the World Bank's compliance cultures, their auditing and accountability systems, and the structures for the protection of the integrity of  data based governance systems.   

Pix Credit (Zambia Billboard HERE)
While it is tempting to find irony here--one of the global leaders for the development of governance capacity itself found it unable to deploy sufficient capacity to avoid significant corruption of its own data based systems. Nonetheless, it is also possible to see in this the way that systems will have to continuously (re)develop capacity as they invest more and more  in quantitative governance undertaken by large and complex aggregations of human inputs. What data driven governance reminds us is that even the most sophisticated systems of algorithmic governance is only as good as the human inputs for and through which it is constructed, operated, supervised, and valued. But perhaps as important is the insight that international organizations themselves may require reform to reduce the potential for systemic corruption that may be inherent in the ways in which these organizations are constituted, staffed, and operated. Corruption synergies existed across the structures of the World Bank and from within it to the way in which it related to key stakeholders respecting the production of objects (ratings) of intense interest to these stakeholders. Yet it is precisely the inherent structural element of inter-institutional corruption that remains untouched. For now. The stakes are as high in the context of data driven governance as they have been under the prior regimes  of law and bureaucratic administration systems. 

Corruption of Video Feed; Pix Credit HERE

And yet, a careful reading of the Report also suggests the difficulty of disciplinary measures in under conditions of power politics. Like law, data governance will likley suffer from the realities that it can do little more than expresses the desires of those with the power to control access to data, to mold the principles under which analytics are validated, to deploy the analytics strategically, and to develop algorithms and the applications of judgments drawn from them in interest enhancing strategic ways. If the system is law is structurally compromised (in its search for perfection) by the inherent flaws of the human for whose welfare law is deployed, systems of quantitative, predictive and simulated mechanisms developed for those same ends will likely suffer the same impediments to perfection.  But those corruptions will (until the language of these systems is mastered) be more easy to hide behind ideologies that presume the omnipotence, neutrality, and fixity of quantitative measures.

The World Bank Statements and the WilmerHale Report follow.


Friday, September 17, 2021

State Council: Human Rights Action Plan of China (2021-2025)


Pix Credit HERE


It is only appropriate that, as China's leading societal forces celebrate the 100th anniversary of its organization as the Communist Party of China, that  this vanguard consider carefully its own progress and the way it meets its responsibilities as the leading force charged with the guidance of the Chinese nation toward the establishment of a communist society. To that end the vanguard engages in a  constant dialectic in which it must identify the current historical contradictions and seek the means to overcome that contradiction in the contemporary social and historical conditions in which they may arise (Mao Zedong, On Contradiction (1937).  To that end it is necessary to align the expression of the core ideological foundations of the vanguard in terms that align theory to the times and the conditions in which society finds itself in this (what for them) is an an inevitable progress toward the ultimate goal for which this vanguard has been vested with superior authority to lead the nation. For that purpose the key principles of Leninist governance are deployed with Chinese characteristics--the mass line, democratic centralism, consultative democracy--in the service of the development of a contemporary political line consistent with current historical conditions and developed to overcome the central contradictions of the times.  In contemporary China the central contradiction--"What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life," (Xi Jinping, Report to the 19th CPC Congress). To overcome this principal contradiction, the vanguard must develop and governmentalize a series of policies that better distribute the fruits of prosperity and stability (the later the core measure of the effectiveness of meeting and overcoming contradiction successfully). But a "better life" as the core of the current central contradiction may not be understood in the context of the prior contradiction--the necessity to develop the nation's productive forces.  Instead, the vanguard now understands that the meaning of "better life" includes much broader and culturally significant  aspects:  As articulated by Xi Jinping: "The needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown; their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing,"(HERE). And with this there is some important cultural baggage re-interpreted for the New Era: including the ancient cardinal virtues (禮), righteousness (義), integrity (廉), and shame (恥). The Eight Virtues are loyalty (忠), filial piety (孝), benevolence (仁) love (愛), honesty (信) justice (義), harmony (和), and peace (平).

That, anyway, is the theory.

It is in this context that one can perhaps better understand the context, meaning, and objectives of the recent publication by the State Council Information Office of China's Human Rights Action Plan (2021-2025).  Read, as it would tend to be by foreigners, against the desire and expectation of conformity with international consensus values and presumptions, most of them incompatible with the core objectives of Chinese Marxist Leninism, and a distraction from the fundamental task of establishing for the Chinese nation a Communist society as a model for the rest of the world to follow,  the Human Rights Action Plan will be found to be wanting.  But that substitutes gibberish and political-psychological projection for analysis appropriate for the context and meaning universe for which this was developed in the first place. This is not to suggest that the State Council, as the delegated institutional organ charged by the vanguard with the task of relating the task of overcoming the current principal contradiction in its "human rights" aspects, were not looking over their shoulder at how the rest of the world would read and interpret the document.  And there is enough ambiguity in it to satisfy in that respect.  Moreover, there are substantial spaces where the trajectories of the development of liberal democracies (as they meet the challenges of their own core contradictions) and those of Chinese Marxist Leninism overlap.  And in those areas of course there is much that can be done to encourage convergence of result if not of the theory supporting the policies. In that respect the Human Rights Action Plan serves Chinese Leninist internationalism, realized, for example, through its Belt and Road partnerships and otherwise through aid to developing (and some developed) states.

But Chinese approaches to human rights must first and foremost be usefully read as undertaken in the service of the task of overcoming the principal contemporary contradiction.  And that challenge itself is focused on the forward movement along the "socialist path"--that is on a path that is meant, eventually, to come closer to the establishment of a communist society in China.  And that final goal can only be reached when, as Deng Xiaoping once suggested, the nation is so rich and materially stable  that issues of wealth become irrelevant in the operation and constitution of society. That path then significantly cuts off the possibilities of alternatives--reflected in the continuing emphasis of Chinese human rights on economic development and its deep suspicion of civil and political rights that can be corrupted to impede the fundamental task of the vanguard (we leave to one side the internal corruption of the vanguard itself..a problem that Chinese Leninism confronts by a different path). It is here that the Chinese and liberal democratic path to human rights diverge--and diverge substantially. That divergence is irreconcilable.

The text of the Chinese Human Rights Action Plan (2021-2025) follows.  It is worth studying closely for tits points of convergence and divergence with the trajectories of human rights and sustainability ideology deeply embedded within the values and principles of liberal democracy against which it will be analyzed and judged, and from out of which appropriate engagement may be undertaken in a rigorous and enlightened way fully conscious of the form and substance of the possibilities of convergence and of the dangers of false assumptions of convergence where divergence is unavoidable.