Wechat, as most people with an interest in China know, has become the preferred form of social media in China. The legal community in China has taken to it too.
For the observer, it enables us to learn about new issues (or aspects of issues) that we didn’t know existed, and (depending on the topic), hear viewpoints other than the official one, or at least read hints of dissenting views. Those with the Wechat app on their smartphone can subscribe to these public accounts but it is also possible to find some these articles through an internet search. Note that the “Mr. Yong” about whom I wrote in 2016 lurks on Wechat, so articles published may disappear, although they often reappear elsewhere.
Some are official accounts of government entities, including the courts and others are public accounts (公众账号) established by companies, law firms, universities, societies, other organizations, or individuals. In November, 2018 the Cyberspace Administration of China said that tightened management of internet content producers would be a “new norm,: and Tencent reduced the number of permitted corporate public accounts from five to two and individual accounts from two to one. More information on this development elsewhere.
Below is the first part of a guide to some useful law-related Wechat public accounts focusing on accounts related to the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) Please contact me through the comment function or email with additional suggestions.
The official Party and government accounts enable the user to keep current on the issues and latest Party and government position in that area of law–new policy, new legislation, and new reforms, or the official response to a current hot topic. The Central Political-Legal Commission has one, the Central Supervision Commission, as do both the SPC and Supreme People’s Procuratorate, as well as their local counterparts. Academic journals have a different audience that requires more nuance.
As I’ve written before, Party/government authorities use Wechat public accounts to reach out to a public that is moving away from traditional media to smartphones. Party/government policy is encouraging courts to do so. There is some but not complete overlap between articles that appear on an institution’s website and Wechat account. There is complete overlap when more political matters are involved, such as the latest important speech of a leader. Even some articles published in institutional public accounts may have a “netizen” tone and use netizen slang and images.
|National Supervision Commission||中央纪委监委网站|
|Central Political-Legal Commission||中央政法长安剑 （recently renamed, read here|
Official accounts linked to the SPC
|linked to SPC and its affiliated institutions|
|Supreme People’s Court||最高人民法院||Official view of SPC; also republishes Xinhua articles|
|People’s Court Daily||人民法院报||Official view of SPC; also republishes Xinhua articles|
|Institute for Applied Jurisprudence
(since July, 2018, under the new institute director, the account has published fewer articles than previously)
|中国应用法学研究所||Had previously carried accounts of conferences and academic talks, translations of foreign materials; other articles|
|China Applied Jurisprudence (academic journal)(from Sept., 2018)||中国应用法学||Publishes excerpts from journal articles (recent article included: article on people’s assessors pilot project; also republishes other articles of interest to editor; translations of foreign materials, including an excerpt from “Building a Diverse Bench” (NYU Brennan Center publication)|
|Journal of Law Application (academic journal affiliated with National Judges College||法律适用||Publishes excerpts from journal articles, some by judges, others by academics|
|Alternative Dispute Resolution Reform in China||多元化纠纷解决机制||Articles on alternative dispute resolution in China and foreign experience|
|Database Faxin (affiliated with the People’s Court Press)||法信||Case analysis, analysis of cases on specific issues|
|China Trial (journal)||中国审判||Excerpts from articles in the journal|
|People’s Judicature||人民司法||Excerpts from articles in the journal|
|Case Research Institute of National Judges College||司法案例研究院||Case analysis, excerpts from its academic journal (Journal of Law Application (Cases))|
|SPC Information Center||智慧法院进行时||Reports on informatization of courts|
|Administrative enforcement and administrative trial
|行政执法与行政审判||Articles related to administrative litigation & enforcement
|National Judges College||国家法官学院||Official account; articles reporting on the National Judges College & its local branches|
|People’s Assessors||人民陪审||Articles related to the people’s assessor system & its reforms|
Several SPC judges and SPC officials have Wechat public accounts. They have obtained approval to have them. Among them are:
|Individual affiliated with SPC||Account name||Content|
|He Fan (何帆), head of the planning department of the SPC’s Judicial Reform Office||法影斑斓||Judicial reform|
|Yu Tongzhi (于同志), judge of SPC #2 Criminal Division, editor of 刑事审判参考||说刑品案||Excerpts from the journal, articles on criminal law and criminal procedure issues (some republished), including original articles by Judge Yu himself, generally on broader criminal law issues.|
|Wang Dongmin (王东敏), judge of the SPC #2 Civil Division||法律之树||Issues of civil and civil procedure law|
As a general (but not directed comment), if judges on the SPC express views on issues that may come before them, it would appear to raise issues similar to those that arise in the rest of the world–the propriety of extrajudicial writing–a sample of writings on this issue from other jurisdictions found here. Persons who can provide relevant information concerning relevant SPC ethics provisions, and restrictions in civil law rather than common law jurisdictions, please contact me.