For over four decades after the Allied victors in the second world war allowed Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese government to reclaim Taiwan from Japan, the generalissimo’s Kuomintang maintained a ruthless Leninist-style dictatorship over the island. Yet KMT propaganda hoodwinked many outside the island to believe that it, unlike the Maoist regime that chased it from mainland China in 1949, was the defender of democracy, the rule of law and human rights for Chinese people.
Jerome A. Cohen’s Blog
Much ink has been spilled during the past week over the informal announcement that China’s police-imposed long-term punishment of “re-education through labour” would, by the end of the year, “cease to be used”. The newly appointed head of the Communist Party’s all-powerful political-legal commission, Meng Jianzhu , made this announcement at a national judicial conference. Understandably, since nothing less than the constitutional protection of 1.3 billion people against arbitrary imprisonment is at stake, Chinese and foreign commentators have been scrutinising the inscrutable.
Beijing’s pending prosecution of deposed Politburo member Bo Xilai and the recent murder conviction of his wife, Gu Kailai , have again brought China’s criminal justice system to world attention. Having detained Bo in March, not until October did the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection turn him over to the state prosecutors for indictment.
International Human Rights Day is always a good time to take China’s temperature. This year, the country is especially feverish. Amazingly, 63 years after the People’s Republic was established, populous and powerful China still has no effective means of enforcing the rights enshrined in its constitution. Yet, once again, new Communist Party leaders reignite hopes for bringing government and the party under the rule of law.
Despite next week’s 18th Communist Party congress, attention inside and outside China is increasingly riveted on the forthcoming criminal prosecution of Bo Xilai , the deposed leader whose case has already done so much to upset the party’s carefully scripted plans for an orderly transfer of national power.