In news so depressingly predictable that it’s almost not worth writing about, Ai Weiwei’s legal advisor Liu Xiaoyuan is apparently being held by State Security after being summoned for a meeting at 8:30 PM last night. Although Ai Weiwei’s Fake Studio tax appeal case opens in court today, Liu Xiaoyuan has not yet returned, and his phone is turned off. Ai has also been informed by police that he is not allowed in court.
— 艾未未Ai Weiwei (@aiww) June 20, 2012
荒谬得很 RT @aiww: 今天下午，发课诉地税案将在朝阳法院开庭。作为原告代理，我被警方控制不得前往。这片神奇的国土，可升入太空，但没可能以1522万买回一个陈述清白的席位。旁听席没有一个留给原告，正义一方永远缺席的现实。
— C.A. Yeung (@WLYeung) June 20, 2012
Honestly, I am running out of things to say when this sort of thing happens. It’s a move as obvious as it is depressing, and it’s indication number 9,343,245 that however fast China’s economy is developing, the real rule of law is still a terribly long way off. One wonders how government spokesmen manage to choke out the words, “China is a nation with the rule of law,” even as this sort of “justice” is being served.
I also wonder what, exactly, Beijing is doing here. They clearly have no intention of giving Ai his day in court, and they can’t possibly think that anyone outside China will consider whatever verdict they reach fair when Ai’s principal lawyer was essentially kidnapped the night before his court date. So why not just arrest him and be done with it? Or hand him a summons informing him the court has found him guilty of tax evasion in absentia or something. I understand someone probably feels the government needs to make a show of doing this the right way, but security forces obviously don’t agree.
If you’re going to put on a dog-and-pony show to try to fool people into believing China has the rule of law, it’s best to at least allow the occasional dog or pony into the building, isn’t it?