The Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court’s decision to sentence activist Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison for “disturbing public order” by encouraging demonstrations against official corruption by his supporters in the New Citizens Movement surprises no one. The heavy-handed violations of Chinese criminal procedure law that marked the case, both before and during the trial, were part and parcel of the departures from Chinese law that have often marked prosecutions of activists protesting official illegality. Defense lawyers were barred from cross-examining prosecution witnesses and from calling witnesses of their own. The authorities also violated Chinese law by holding separate trials, which prevented the defendants from providing testimony that could be useful to one another’s defense. The instrumental manipulation of procedure is depressingly familiar.
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Baucus nomination clears Senate Foreign Relations Committee
WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations committee has easily approved President Barack Obama's nomination of veteran Sen. Max Baucus to become ambassador to China.
Baucus is a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade issues. The 72-year-old was first elected to the Senate in 1978.
Baucus has said he wants to help build a better economic relationship with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China is far bigger than it is with any other country, and China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt.
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