A new report was released this week by Human Rights Watch in regards to the new regulations, “Guiding Opinions on Lawyers Handling Mass Cases” announced by the All China Lawyers Association (ACLA) in May 2006. These regulations affect lawyers representing a group of ten or more people in collective disputes, such as land rights, forced evictions, environmental pollution, and workers’ rights. As soon as the lawyers have taken on “mass cases,” the regulations require them to report to the ACLA. The lawyers are also discouraged from collecting mass petition to officials or discussing the case with overseas organizations and the media. Amnesty International expressed concerns that the regulations would discourage lawyers from representing victims of human rights violations and affect lawyers’ ability to act independently.

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On the internet side of things, China announced new requirements for monitoring online games and music. The Press and Publication Administration is concerned about the content of imported games, especially those that have “sensitive religious material or refer to territorial disputes.” It is interesting how religion is an issue for online games in China while violence is not.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Culture issued guidelines to require imported online music to be approved and registered by the Ministry. Even domestic music has to be registered before going online. Those who violate the new guidelines will be punished and the corresponding websites will be investigated. Should the rights to distribute music be regulated by a state department? Although this might seem to be a good thing for musicians or music companies, it is unlikely that the punishment would involve any money. It would give the Chinese officials another excuse to jail people or even worse, it creates another kind of charges for false accusation. With the wide spread of police abuse and the lack of fair trials in China’s justice system, new regulations would only create more opportunities for human rights abuses.

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