A Chinese Shaggy Dog Story

We thought this exchange between legal academics and the discussion of the concept of “interference”in Chinese political and legal affairs might interest some of our readership…….

A legal academic writes to another in an exchange on the ChinaLaw group

Whether a foreign government’s action amounts to impermissible interference in another country’s affairs depends on the nature and purpose of the action and of the events that evoked it. Protests, comments, written and oral communications can all be categorized as legitimate responses to another country’s violation of international human rights, for example. China itself has condemned domestic actions of another country that violated human rights norms, as in the case of apartheid South Africa. Repression of speech in Hong Kong in violation of the HK government’s commitment to the ICCPR should certainly elicit justifiable foreign condemnation that should not be characterized as “interference”.The UK has an additional obligation/opportunity to condemn the proposed electoral arrangements as in violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration.
I recall a breakfast meeting in NY years ago that I think I have already mentioned on ChinaPol. As head of the NY-Beijing Sister City Committee, I played host to then Beijing Mayor, the late Chen Xitong. Congressman Steve Solarz, trying to start the meeting in a jovial manner, asked Chen:”Mr. Mayor, why are you killing all the dogs in Beijing (as the NY Times had reported that morning)?” Chen, normally unflappable, said as his feeble first line of defense: “In every country the treatment of dogs is a purely domestic question.” That sent the table, including Dick Holbrooke, into impolite guffaws. So Chen, flustered, felt he had to address the merits of the question. “Besides,” he added, “in England and America a dog may be a man’s best friend, but in China the dog’s function has only been to defend the home against crime and, since we have abolished crime in China, we no longer need the filthy mongrels.”