The appearance in the Hong Kong legislature of filibustering — the practice of allowing one or more members to delay or prevent a vote on a proposal by limitless speechifying — signals the danger that the former British colony may embrace extreme forms of democracy without the rules and regulations that Western parliaments have developed.
In 2001, when it made a successful bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing promised there would be complete freedom for the foreign media to report in China. While this did not occur, more liberal rules were introduced, such as not requiring official permission before conducting interviews.
Without saying so publicly, the Chinese government surprisingly agreed to virtually all the requests made by blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng after his escape from his home in Linyi, in Shandong province, into the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The escape of the blind legal rights worker Chen Guangcheng from his home in Dongshigu village in Shandong Province creates a political problem for Premier Wen Jiabao, now serving his final year in office.
What is going on in China? From the outside, it seems as though the leadership is facing its biggest crisis in a generation, with the country's most prominent political star, Bo Xilai, the czar of Chongqing.
In the old days, when Japan was the world's second-largest economy, American officials used to describe the U.S.-Japan relationship as “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none.” Nowadays such words, if spoken, refer to China, not Japan.
With a million Chinese now working in Africa and with China now the continent's most important trading partner, it is natural, and fitting, that Beijing's views are sought whenever a crisis emerges, as is now the case with Mali, which saw a military coup two weeks ago.
On March 5, the day the 2012 session of China's National People's Congress opened, Premier Wen Jiabao promised to enforce the law “in both letter and spirit, respect and uphold the sanctity of the Constitution and laws, and govern in strict accordance with the laws.”
Wen Jiabao, beginning his 10th and final year as China's premier, again called for political reform and warned that failure to make progress may bring about a tragedy, such as the eruption of another Cultural Revolution, which tore the country apart for a decade.
At the opening last week of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, a retired English professor, Wu Qing, told a Hong Kong television interviewer that the congress is described in the Chinese Constitution as “the highest organ of state power.”