US paper gets access to court proceedings
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-20 06:18
SHANGHAI: A local court will grant journalists from The New York Times
unrestricted access for four days later this month to study China's legal
They will be allowed to enter any courtroom and hear any case as well as
interview litigants and lawyers a move considered unprecedented in a Chinese
A notice from the Shanghai High People's Court to the designated court,
Pudong New Area District People's Court, however, did not mention how many
journalists would attend or which cases they are likely to hear.
"Even though Japan's NHK and some other foreign TV networks have been here,
their coverage was limited to certain cases or a specific category like a
juvenile trial," said an employee of the Shanghai High People's Court, who
preferred not to be named.
The visit is believed to have been approved by the Foreign Affairs Office of
the Shanghai municipal government and the reporters are said to be from New York
Times' Beijing office.
It was scheduled to start yesterday, but was postponed to after Christmas.
Fang Jun, a spokesman for the district court, told China Daily yesterday that
it is the first time a Shanghai court would completely open its doors to foreign
media, and added that court staff would accompany the journalists.
Most cases in the country are open sessions which local journalists can
cover, but foreign journalists require permission from a liaison office to cover
proceedings. Foreign residents need only the approval of the court to witness a
The New York Times, like most Western media, has been covering recent changes
in China's judicial system, and in the past month it has published two lengthy
reports raising questions about its fairness.
On November 28, it reported on a judge in Henan Province, who declared a
provincial law invalid when it conflicted with the national law and almost lost
her job because the local government was unhappy with the verdict.
"Things like that happen occasionally in the country's comparatively
under-developed areas, but most judges follow the letter of the law," said Gao
Xujun, a professor at Tongji University.
It is clearly stipulated in the constitutional law that courts conduct trials
without interference from any individual, organization or government department,
(China Daily 12/20/2005 page1)