I'm not sure many people here follow Chinese politics, but the biggest scandal by far since 1989 occurred earlier this year when a city police chief suddenly showed up at a US consulate, allegedly seeking asylum after revealing information of a cover-up by his Communist Party boss, a man name Bo Xilai. Bo Xilai is what is known as a "princeling", the son of one of modern China's founding fathers so to speak, i.e. a top member of the Communist Party back in the day. As such, this almost automatically made Bo a person of great political importance, and until this scandal broke he was expected to be join the ranks of China's most important political body, the Politburo Standing Committee. His fall is a huge scandal for the Communist Party for reasons I don't really care to get into, but the events that led to this scandal were quite interesting, and involves his wife, Gu Kailai.
According to the asylum-seeking police chief, Gu was involved in some sketchy business dealings that involved transactions through a British businessman, Neil Heywood. When something went wrong with these dealings, Gu and Heywood had a falling out. Then one day Mr. Heywood showed up dead in a Chinese hotel room under suspicious circumstances. The police chief claimed the man had been poisoned, which seemed especially likely after odd "official" reports came out that he died of alcohol poisoning, except all those who knew him knew he was also a teetotaler.
Now things were getting messy because the British Government started demanding to know what happened to one of its citizens, rightly so of course. China needed a scapegoat, and whether she was guilty or not (most likely is, but ask for transparency and they hold up mirrors over here), Gu found herself arrested in April, and formally charged with murder on July 29. And talk about efficiency, the trial just ended, but the verdict might not be known for a long time. If she is found guilty, she would almost certainly be put to death. Her husband's fate is still mystery, and no one really knows how much he was involved yet, but that investigation is far more delicate, as any corruption found in his past is likely to reach to others in the highest echelons of the Chinese government.
So what does this have to do with the US legal system? Well, Gu Kailai is a lawyer, and apparently had spent quite a bit of time abroad. Enough so that she believed herself to have a keen understanding of US law--keen enough to write a book about it called Winning a Lawsuit in the US. I would now like to share Gu Kailai's possibly last and certainly most ironic take on US law, and particularly how it compares to China, taken from a series of book excerpts reprinted in this NY Times article:
China practices law in a different way than America; we don’t play with words. We have a principle called “based on the facts.” You will be arrested, sentenced and executed as long as we know you killed someone.
I sure hope you're right, Ms. Gu.