Professor Sida Liu on China's legal system and its components

July 21, 2020 by Tianyang Zheng

Professor Sida Liu recently spoke to UTM News regarding the case of two Canadians facing espionage charges in China. Professor Liu is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the UT Mississauga (UTM) campus. He is a faculty fellow at the American Bar Foundation. He is also an affiliated scholar of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University School of Law and an affiliated scholar of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. His research focuses on the sociology of law, social organizations, social theory, and globalization.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below. The full story is available on UTM News website here.

Lawyers for Canadians charged with spying in China can only make minimal difference, says UTM legal expert

Monday, July 13, 2020 - 11:04am

Patricia Lonergan

A U of T Mississauga expert on China’s legal system says a more coordinated effort is needed to raise attention worldwide about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians facing espionage charges in China.

“The more international attention on their trials, the better,” says Sida Liu, an associate professor of sociology. He says the broader attention could put some pressure on the Chinese government and courts to conduct as close to a fair trial as possible, adding that this is not just a problem between China and Canada, but is instead part of a larger political conflict that could affect everyone.

After being detained for over a year in China, last month the two Canadians were charged with spying. The formal charges came on the heels of a decision by British Columbia’s Supreme Court to dismiss an application from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to avoid extradition to the United States.

Now that Spavor and Kovrig have been prosecuted, the cases will be transferred to the courts. While both face spying-related charges, they were charged separately in different jurisdictions. Kovrig’s case will transfer to Beijing while Spavor’s will go to Dandong.

Normally the courts have three to six months to conduct a trial and reach a decision once a case has been transferred, but because this is a national security case, the courts could extend that timeframe, Liu says.

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