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Cablegate: Public Interest Litigation Research Project

VZCZCXRO8852
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0066/01 0460220
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150220Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6696
INFO RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 1121
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1255
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0934
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 7231
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1721
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1123
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1094

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SHANGHAI 000066

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM AND DRL/PHD
EPA FOR ROGER MARTELLA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR KJUS SENV CH
SUBJECT: PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION RESEARCH PROJECT


(U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for dissemination outside
USG channels; not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: In an effort to find ways to amend the
Administrative Litigation Law, China's Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
has tasked Suzhou University School of Law Professor Huang
Xuexian to conduct research on public interest litigation.
Public interest litigation occurs when an individual sues the
government on behalf of the public. Currently, courts are
reluctant to accept suits by individuals against the government
unless the individual is directly harmed by the government's
actions. According to a few local lawyers and judges in Suzhou,
strengthening public interest litigation would curb government
excesses, increase judicial authority and encourage local people
to be more active in fighting for their rights. Professor Huang
will finish his research in December 2009 and is eager to have
more cooperation and exchanges with U.S. interlocutors on this
issue. End Summary.

Public Interest Litigation
--------------------------

2. (SBU) On January 22, ConGen Shanghai Rule of Law Coordinator
(ROLC) met with Suzhou University School of Law Professor Huang
Xuexian. Professor Huang reported that the Ministry of Justice
(MOJ) recently tasked him to carry out a research program on
public interest litigation. The MOJ is planning to amend the
Administrative Litigation Law in the next 5 years and has begun
to task academics with research projects to help the Ministry
prepare amendments to the law. Huang's public interest
litigation project is one of the projects sponsored by the MOJ
and will influence whether the MOJ will include provisions in
the new law on this issue. Public interest litigation refers to
cases for which any person or organization can submit a lawsuit
in the public interest of the society and country. Huang said
currently courts in China do not accept most public interest
litigation cases due to lack of laws governing these types of
cases. For example, if a person sues the local Environmental
Protection Bureau for not taking action against a factory
polluting a local river, the local court usually would not
accept the case because there is no direct evidence that the
pollution is harmful to the specific plaintiff. In general,
this has prevented NGOs and lawyers from utilizing public
interest litigation to push for changes. However, as awareness
of environmental protection and civil rights increases, many
Chinese citizens have begun to call for more public interest
litigation.

3. (SBU) According to Professor Huang, his research project
should be completed before December 2009 and result in a book on
public interest litigation to be published at that time. Huang
is now in the stage of information collecting and is interested
in the experiences of the United States, Japan and Taiwan on
public interest litigation. Although Huang's research is still
in a preliminary stage, he believes that a good public interest
litigation system will curb government excesses and inspire the
public to become more active in fighting for its rights. Huang
added that he has gathered a strong team including law
professors, students and lawyers in Suzhou to participate in the
project.

4. (SBU) ROLC offered to help Huang with his research by
connecting him to U.S. experts and providing him information on
how to use the Consulate Public Affairs Section's Information
Resource Center. Huang was very pleased with the offer and said
currently he had few connections with international NGOs or U.S.
legal organizations. He believes that engaging with U.S. NGOs
on the U.S. experience and comparable legal system on this issue
would greatly be of great benefit to his research.

Suzhou Judges and Lawyers Optimistic About the Future of Public
Interest Litigation
--------------------------------------------- ------------------

5. (SBU) In early February, ROLC discussed public interest
litigation with lawyers and judges in Suzhou. Most were quite
optimistic about public interest litigation in China. Suwu Law
Firm partner Wang Kewen stressed the importance of public
interest litigation and called it a "rights enlightenment
movement" for the common Chinese people. Zhibang Law Firm
Partner Gu Dasong told ROLC that he served as a lawyer on the

SHANGHAI 00000066 002 OF 002


first public interest litigation case in Jiangsu Province. His
client sued the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau for issuing a
construction permit to a company which destroyed an area that
had a scenic view of Zhijing Mountain. According to Gu, a good
system of public interest litigation is crucial to the
development of the rule of law in China. He said the public
interest provisions of applicable laws should be broadened to
cover more areas like environmental protection, fighting
state-owned monopolies, and promoting civil rights.

6. (SBU) Suzhou judges expressed the same opinions as
attorneys Wang and Gu, and said they also believe that
improvements in public interest litigation would strengthen
judicial authority and the rule of law. They expected that if
the Administrative Litigation Law is amended to include explicit
provisions on public interest litigation, more and more public
interest litigation cases would be accepted by the courts.
JARRETT

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