Jerome A. Cohen: China’s Hollow ‘Rule Of Law’
Two major criminal cases in one week — one resulting in an execution, the other a lengthy prison sentence — have focused new foreign attention on China’s judiciary. They are vivid reminders of the limits that China’s Communist Party-dominated legal system imposes on the government’s efforts to impress the world by its “soft power”: its political, cultural and economic influence.
Both the 11-year sentence a Chinese court delivered to democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo for “inciting subversion of state power” and the execution Tuesday of British national Akmal Shaikh for heroin smuggling make clear why the People’s Republic of China emphasizes that it has a “political-legal” system.
In both cases, the party denied the courts the independence to consider the defendants’ claims. And without judicial autonomy, there can be no genuine rule of law.