Have your court case heard online in Hangzhou – China’s latest top news

Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on August 16, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

China establishes cyber-court in Hangzhou

China Law Blog reports that “China has adopted a plan to establish a cyberspace court” in the historic city of Hangzhou, less than an hour by high-speed train from Shanghai. The court will “accept filings electronically, try cases via live stream and hear only ecommerce and internet-related cases.” Why Hangzhou?

  • Ecommerce behemoth Alibaba and many other tech companies are headquartered in Hangzhou.
  • The “China Cross-Border E-Commerce Comprehensive Test Zone” is located in the city.
  • Hangzhou’s regular courts “have experienced a considerable increase in the number of e-commerce related cases, from 600 cases accepted in 2013 to more than 10,000 in 2016.”

China Law Blog points out a few problems:

  • Firstly, the cyber-court’s website is currently down, not a good look for an internet-based operation of any kind.
  • Plaintiffs can register with the court by going to Hangzhou and showing ID to the court clerk, “which to a large extent defeats much of the purpose of having the online court system.” The other way is to verify a plaintiff’s identity by using a verified account from Alibaba’s Alipay system. This raises security issues and would give Alibaba — potentially a frequent target of lawsuits connected to ecommerce — control over a key element of the cyber-court’s operations.

You can find more details and links about the cyber-court (in Chinese) on Wikipedia.

Top Chinese and U.S. military leaders sign agreement

The website of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff reports that its chairman, U.S. Marine Corps General Joe Dunford, met chief of China’s joint staff General Fang Fenghui 房峰辉 in China, and signed a “joint strategic dialogue mechanism… intended for crisis mitigation.” The first meeting “to set up the framework” is scheduled for November.

“To be honest, we have many difficult issues where we will not necessarily have the same perspectives,” Dunford said, but also that he was confident of making progress during his three day visit hosted by the People’s Liberation Army. The Joint Chiefs of Staff website points out the importance of close communications between the two sides “as the region and world are facing the dangers of a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

Today in truly awful propaganda

Chinese state media has been on the offensive against India for weeks about the Doklam border dispute (see Politics and Current Affairs section for the latest updates). On August 16, Xinhua News Agency released a new episode of its “fun” English video series, titled “7 Sins of India. It’s time for India to confess its SEVEN SINS.” If you enjoy cringing, watch it here.

A Chinese angle on corruption in South Africa

Your editor’s native land of South Africa has a president who makes Donald Trump look competent and ethical. In recent months, the country has been enthralled by the details of “Guptaleaks,” a trove of emails between President Zuma’s inner circle and members of the Gupta family, Indian emigrés who have used their connections to Zuma to allegedly wield control of — and skim huge sums of money from — South African state-owned companies and their procurement budgets.

In June, the Daily Maverick reported that a consortium led by General Electric had been granted a court interdict to stop a deal between South Africa’s state electricity utility — which the Guptas apparently had control of — and Dongfang Electric Corporation (东方电气集团 dōngfāng diànqì jítuán) after Dongfang won a tender for work on a power station even though its asking price was 1 billion South African rand ($75 million) more than its rivals’.

Thanks to the excellent South African business journalist Ann Crotty for sending me the link above. If you’re interested in the Gupta saga, Business Day has the latest developments.