China opens court for temporary foreign scrutiny

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In an interesting move, a local court in Shanghai will grant journalists from The New York Times unrestricted access for four days later this month to study China's legal procedures.  On December 21, The Korea Herald reported:

They will be allowed to enter any courtroom and hear any case as well as interview litigants and lawyers a move considered unprecedented in a Chinese court.

A notice from the Shanghai High People's Court to the designated court, Pudong New Area District People's Court, however, did not mention how many journalists would attend or which cases they are likely to hear.

"Even though Japan's NHK and some other foreign TV networks have been here, their coverage was limited to certain cases or a specific category like a juvenile trial," said an employee of the Shanghai High People's Court, who preferred not to be named.

The visit is believed to have been approved by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai municipal government and the reporters are said to be from New York Times' Beijing office.

It was scheduled to start yesterday (Dec 19), but was postponed to after Christmas.

Legal experts say this will be the first time a Shanghai court has completely opened its doors to foreign media.

Why are the Chinese doing this now?  Are legal authorities trying to curry favor with one of leading foreign critics?  Could this be a response to the cover—up of the Dongzhou Massacre, aimed at placating foreign critics?

To its credit, The Times has a long history of exposing problems inside China's judicial system, and in the past month it has published two lengthy reports raising questions about its fairness.

Brian Schwarz   12 21 05

 

 

 

In an interesting move, a local court in Shanghai will grant journalists from The New York Times unrestricted access for four days later this month to study China's legal procedures.  On December 21, The Korea Herald reported:

They will be allowed to enter any courtroom and hear any case as well as interview litigants and lawyers a move considered unprecedented in a Chinese court.

A notice from the Shanghai High People's Court to the designated court, Pudong New Area District People's Court, however, did not mention how many journalists would attend or which cases they are likely to hear.

"Even though Japan's NHK and some other foreign TV networks have been here, their coverage was limited to certain cases or a specific category like a juvenile trial," said an employee of the Shanghai High People's Court, who preferred not to be named.

The visit is believed to have been approved by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai municipal government and the reporters are said to be from New York Times' Beijing office.

It was scheduled to start yesterday (Dec 19), but was postponed to after Christmas.

Legal experts say this will be the first time a Shanghai court has completely opened its doors to foreign media.

Why are the Chinese doing this now?  Are legal authorities trying to curry favor with one of leading foreign critics?  Could this be a response to the cover—up of the Dongzhou Massacre, aimed at placating foreign critics?

To its credit, The Times has a long history of exposing problems inside China's judicial system, and in the past month it has published two lengthy reports raising questions about its fairness.

Brian Schwarz   12 21 05