This week I started what will be a series of a dozen guest lectures that will take me to universities in many cities throughout China. On Thursday I spoke at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing on "The Emergence of Global Environmental Law," a theme I am emphasizing in lectures around the world. Prior to the lecture I had dinner with some of the Tsinghua faculty. We had an interesting discussion about globalization and the Tibet protests both during the dinner and during an hour’s discussion with students after the lecture. Some confidently opined that the problem would end when the Dalai Lama dies. I strongly disagreed with them and argued that if the situation was not resolved prior to the death of the Dalai Lama it actually would become worse because there would be no credible Tibetan authority figure who could negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government.
The Chinese media have continued their propaganda campaign against the Dalai Lama, even though the government has announced that it will meet with his representatives. The English language CCTV-9 channel keeps featuring Sidley & Austin lawyer Robert Fabricant (not to be confused with the former EPA general counsel who spells his name with a "c" instead of a "k"). Earlier this week it interviewed him as though he was just a random American appearing at a pro-Chinese rally in D.C. On Saturday night's network news the second headline was something like "American Lawyer Says China Has Done Great Things for Tibet". I was wondering who that lawyer would be and, sure enough, it again turned out to be Robert Fabrikant. The news report prominently featured the fact that he teaches at Georgetown University Law School (apparently as an adjunct) and it mentioned that he had visited China six times and had been in Tibet in 2005. That inspired me to calculate that I have visited China 12 times and I was in Tibet in October 2007. While my Tibetan driver and guide conceded that one good thing China had done was to plant lots of trees in Tibet, they complained bitterly about how the Chinese government treated Tibetans.
This weekend I made a quick tourist trip to Guilin. I flew to Guilin on Friday and on Saturday I had absolutely glorious weather for the spectacular boat trip along the Li River from Guilin to Yangshou. The four-hour trip features incredible views of the "karsts", the unusual limestone formations that have made this one of the top tourist attractions in China. On the boat I met a wonderful couple from Indonesia and a boisterous group of tourists from Lebanon who hooked up an iPod to external speakers and starting dancing on the boat. Photos of my trip to Guilin are available onlines at: http://gallery.mac.com/rperci/100202. After teaching my Environmenal Law class in Beijing on Monday, I am taking advantage of Thursday's May Day holiday by flying to Hanoi to start a tour of Vietnam. On Tuesday I will be meeting with Dr. Ha, the head of Vietnam's Environmental Protection Agency.
This week NRDC's Beijing office shared with me an English translation of the Chinese State Council's proposed regulations on public participation in the review of environmental impact assessments by local governments adopting comprehensive or special plans for land use and development. One interesting aspect of the draft regulations is that they specify that sanctions, including firing, should be imposed on “the persons directly in charge and the other persons directly responsible” when government officials fail to comply with public participation requirements. When you don’t have citizen suits and judicial review to hold government agencies accountable maybe it’s reasonable to have regulations specifying that sanctions shall be imposed on government employees who violate them.