Jerome A. Cohen, Political Prisoners in Hong Kong, A ChinaFile Conversation, August 17, 2017. 

  From left to right: Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow. Photo: Joshua Wong via Facebook.

From left to right: Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow. Photo: Joshua Wong via Facebook.

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has sentenced democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow to six to eight months in prison. The jail term also means that they cannot stand for elections for a period of five years.

They are of course political prisoners. This is not a case where people are accused of stealing fish. The defendants’ actions were political, and so is the government’s prosecution.
— Jerome Cohen

Jerome A. Cohen and Peter A. Dutton, How India border stand-off gives China a chance to burnish its global image, South China Morning Post, July 21, 2017.

Jerome A. Cohen and Peter A. Dutton call on Beijing and New Delhi to seek impartial arbitration to resolve their problem. After its heavy-handedness in the South China Sea, the latest row offers China a fresh chance to show respect for international law




如自由亞洲電臺所指出,「李明哲案凸顯了中國與臺灣在公民自由權利方面明顯且日益擴大的差距……」 無論是在中國對臺目標上,還是在世界舞臺上增強「軟實力」的目標上,北京都嚴重錯估了這種行為所導致的後果。

Jerome Cohen, Comments on Lee Ming-che's Arrest, ChinaFile, May 30, 2017.

As Radio Free Asia (RFA) has pointed out, “Lee’s case highlights the stark and growing gap in civil liberties between China and Taiwan . . .” Beijing has badly miscalculated the consequences of proceeding in this manner for its hopes in Taiwan and for its “soft power” in the world.

 Marriage equality supporters celebrated after Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. (Chiang Ying-ying/Associate Press)

Marriage equality supporters celebrated after Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. (Chiang Ying-ying/Associate Press)

Jerome A. Cohen says the decision to legalise gay marriage is the latest in progressive top court rulings that highlight Taiwan’s accomplishments in achieving democratic freedoms under the rule of law, and boosts its standing among democratic allies 



Jerome A. Cohen, Activists in China pay a heavy price for fighting everyday injustices, South China Morning Post, May 2, 2017. 

 Disabled Chinese rights activist Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin. Photo: Andy Wong/Associated Press

Disabled Chinese rights activist Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin. Photo: Andy Wong/Associated Press

Jerome A. Cohen says the story of rights activist Ni Yulan illustrates not only the cruelty of the party-state’s repression, but also the resilience of those who advocate for change



(Voice of America—Wikimedia Commons)

Although it would be wise as well as humane for Beijing to release Lee Ming-che now, his case may have just begun. Yet its lessons are already worth considering. It vividly illustrates Beijing’s continuing determination to suspend the operation of important cross-strait agreements in the current political circumstances. It also exposes not only how little respect the Chinese Government has for even the minimal human rights protections enshrined in the Judicial Assistance Agreement but also the need to provide effective means for their enforcement.





Jerome A. Cohen and Edward J. Baker, Why Trump should give nuclear-armed North Korea a shot at peace, South China Morning Post, February 6, 2017.

Photo by MarkRubens/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by MarkRubens/iStock / Getty Images

Jerome A. Cohen and Edward J. Baker urge the US and other stakeholders to work on a peace treaty with the North to formally end the Korean War and avoid any dire fallout of Kim Jong-un’s rising nuclear rhetoric.


 Zhou Enlai and Jerome Cohen

Zhou Enlai and Jerome Cohen




 Photo Credit: Financial Times Chinese

Photo Credit: Financial Times Chinese


Jerome A. Cohen and David Wertime, A Crack of Daylight Enters Chinese Court Proceedings, Foreign Policy, October 12, 2016.

 Photo Credit: Foreign Policy. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Foreign Policy. STR/AFP/Getty Images

A growing number of trials will be live-streamed in HD. What might that mean for justice in a black-box judiciary?



Yu-Jie Chen & Jerome A. Cohen, Beijing and Taipei should end their tug of war over repatriation of criminal suspects, South China Morning Post, September 28, 2016.

Yu-Jie Chen and Jerome A. Cohen say China’s tighter grip will only stoke resentment, impede cross-strait peace and disrupt the cooperation in law enforcement to fight fraud, which has benefited both sides


Jerome A. Cohen, The Wisdom of The Hague’s South China Sea Decision, The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2016.

The verdict is persuasive and an important addition to international law.

Although rejected not only by China but also Taiwan, the tribunal’s elaborately researched and scrupulously reasoned responses proved just as impressive. They were even more so given the difficulties imposed by China’s nonparticipation and the tribunal’s mistaken refusal to permit Taiwan’s participation, out of exaggerated deference to Beijing’s “one China” policy.
— Jerome A. Cohen

— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, Like it or not, UNCLOS arbitration is legally binding for China, East Asia Forum, July 11, 2016.

Although any outcome can be arbitrarily dismissed as ‘debatable’, if properly understood there should be no doubt that despite Beijing’s endlessly repeated denunciations of the tribunal’s legitimacy — and even the competence and fairness of the arbitrators — China will be legally bound by the tribunal’s decision.
— Jerome Cohen




Jerome A. Cohen, Is there a way for Beijing to save face after the South China Sea arbitration ruling?, South China Morning Post, June 15, 2016.

Jerome A. Cohen says China should look to restart negotiations with the Philippines after the upcoming ruling on the UN Law of the Sea dispute, given its impact on regional peace and its own foreign policy

孔杰荣,杜勇心,“冲之鸟礁”是否拥有经济专属区?,金融时报中文网, 2016年5月24日。

— 孔杰荣、杜勇心

 Photo credit:  East Asian Forum

Photo credit: East Asian Forum

While tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea and the disputing governments nervously await a decision in the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, an important sideshow has arisen between Japan and Taiwan in the central Philippine Sea.

Beijing and Taipei are surely correct in rejecting Japan’s claim. The idea that Okinotori is entitled to control the economic resources of a sea covering roughly 150,000 square statute miles, an area about the size of Japan itself, has always been preposterous. No matter how generously the Philippine arbitration tribunal might interpret the terms of UNCLOS Article 121.3 in the context of the South China Sea, it will not justify Japan’s claim.
— Jerome Cohena and Peter Dutton



— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, Forecasting the Aftermath of a Ruling on China’s Nine-Dash Line, Foreign Policy, April 20, 2016.

A tribunal is likely to rule on China's hazy claims to South China Sea sovereignty. How Beijing and others react isn't set in stone.

China has been touting its peaceful rise for over a decade, and it has been trying to persuade the international community that it is a responsible great power adhering to the rule of law. In these circumstances, it would be statesmanlike and conducive to Asian peace if Beijing were to accept the arbitration’s outcome and adopt the decision as a platform for negotiations that seek a sensible compromise. In the meantime, the more that other interested states engage with international law of the sea, the better. This might stimulate both China and the United States to reconsider their current postures and act in their different ways to strengthen — not weaken — the UNCLOS system. Given the sensitivity of the seas around China, world peace may depend upon it.
— Jerome Cohen
  The Arbitral Tribunal in   Philippines v. China,  photo released by the  Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Arbitral Tribunal in Philippines v. China, photo released by the Permanent Court of Arbitration

孔杰荣,台湾能就和平解决岛屿争端做出表率吗?, 金融时报中文网, 2016年3月2日。


— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, A Looming Crisis for China’s Legal System, Foreign Policy, February 22, 2016.

Talented judges and lawyers are leaving the profession, as ideology continues to trump the rule of law.

The immediate future looks dim for legal reform in China. A little-known fact highlights what might have been. Xi Jinping’s father, the famous political leader Xi Zhongxun, was placed in charge of the country’s legislative reform from 1981 to 1983 after returning from many years of ostracism and vilification during the Cultural Revolution. Bitter experience had led the elder Xi to recognize the importance of freedom of discussion, allowing people within the party and outside the party to speak freely, even if their ideas contradicted the policies and programs of the current leadership. He advocated enacting a law to protect differing opinions and to prevent people from suffering criminal punishment, or ouster from the party, or other sanctions for expressing disagreement with the leadership. The elder Xi openly recognized that, in order to maximize progress, China had to allow differences of opinion. Today, sadly, his son rejects that good example and demands “absolute loyalty” from would-be law reformers — and everyone else.
— Jerome Cohen

Jerome A. Cohen, Can Taiwan show Beijing and the world how disputed islands should be used for peace?, South China Morning Post, February 19, 2016.

Jerome Cohen says Taipei should turn the South China Sea island of Taiping into a centre for the peaceful resolution of East Asian disputes

Taiwan should turn the island into a centre for the peaceful resolution of East Asian disputes. It should become a site for relevant international conferences, joint research projects and continuing multilateral discussions and negotiations.
— Jerome A. Cohen
 President Ma Ying-jeou and Taiwan officials on the Southc China Sea island of Itu Aba (Taiping)  

President Ma Ying-jeou and Taiwan officials on the Southc China Sea island of Itu Aba (Taiping)  

Jerome A. Cohen, A Legal Defense Against Chinese Oppression, Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2016.

Can the American Bar Association protest China’s crackdowns without risking the safety of its staff ?

Many Chinese lawyers have taken refuge in America and are unable to return home without facing prosecution. They need financial support, opportunities for relevant research, meaningful work and advanced education. The ABA can also sponsor internships, conferences and study tours so that, when these marooned rights advocates can safely return, they will be better equipped to advance legal reform.
— Jerome A. Cohen

孔杰荣,公共律师在转型社会中的角色, 金融时报中文网, 2016年2月1日。


— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, The Dilemma Facing Rights Lawyers in China, Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2016.

To fight for rights using existing laws? Or try to end Communist control over the legal system?

 Geng He, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, speaks at a press conference Tuesday. (Nina Lincoff/Medill News Service)

Geng He, wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, speaks at a press conference Tuesday. (Nina Lincoff/Medill News Service)

How should China’s human rights lawyers confront increasing repression under President Xi Jinping? I discussed this question several years ago with a group of Chinese activist lawyers, some of whom the Communist Party later imprisoned. Should lawyers fight for rights within the limits of existing laws and procedures, which still severely restrict their ability to wage an effective defense? Or should they advocate political change that would end the Communist Party’s monopoly of power over the legal system?
— Jerome A. Cohen

孔杰荣,台湾选举的六重意义, 金融时报中文网, 2016年1月16日。

— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, Why the elections in Taiwan matter so much – for Beijing, the region and the US, South China Morning Post, January 15, 2016.

 Photo: J. Michael Cole / Thinking Taiwan

Photo: J. Michael Cole / Thinking Taiwan

Jerome A. Cohen says a win for Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan’s presidential election will be a major test for the mainland leadership and may slow the progress of cross-strait trade agreements

If Tsai wins the election, I hope that human rights will enjoy greater prominence in cross-strait relations
— Jerome A. Cohen

傅青山、何宜伦、孔杰荣 ,中国不应视公民社会组织为威胁, 金融时报中文网, 2016年1月11日。

— 傅青山、何宜伦、孔杰荣

Eli Friedman, Aaron Halegua and Jerome A. Cohen, Cruel irony: China’s Communists are stamping out labor activism, Washington Post, January 3, 2016.

In fact, labor NGOs play a productive role in resolving such disputes. Chinese employers often “handle” strikes by ignoring workers’ demands and contacting the authorities, who increasingly send in police to rough up workers and detain strike leaders. By contrast, as in the Lide case, labor NGOs advise strikers on how to formulate their demands, elect representatives and engage in collective negotiations with employers to resolve the underlying violations, and sometimes even assist in reaching agreements governing future relations.
— Eli Friedman, Aaron Halegua and Jerome A. Cohen

孔杰荣,浦志强案:党治,而非法治, 金融时报中文网, 2015年12月31日。

— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, China’s courts continue to silence critics of party policies, South China Morning Post, December 29, 2015.

 Photo source: Flickr, Global Panorama

Photo source: Flickr, Global Panorama

Jerome A. Cohen says by giving human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang a seemingly mild suspended sentence, China shows it’s mindful of its own image, but it isn’t softening its stance against dissent

Can Pu’s sentence really be considered “mild”? After all, he had been denied China’s equivalent of bail, despite serious health problems, and had already endured pre-trial punishment for 19 months. Chinese detention conditions often lead suspects to plead guilty simply to hasten their transfer to the usually better-regulated conditions of prison that follow final sentencing. Moreover, as a consequence of conviction, Pu will lose his licence to practise law. This severely constricts his income. It also eliminates both his courtroom contributions to human rights and, as his most famous client, the dissident artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未), has pointed out, the political “platform from which he has given voice to the voiceless”.
— Jerome A. Cohen

Jerome A. Cohen, China in 2016, A ChinaFile Conversation, Andrew J. Nathan, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Taisu Zhang, Jerome A. Cohen, December 23, 2015.

The South China Sea situation is likely to become even more dangerous than it has been to date. Thus far, the United States has exercised military gestures to challenge China’s sweeping but vague international law rhetoric and its swift transformation of reefs into strategically valuable artificial islands. Those gestures have proved as ineffectual as they have been imprecise in their legal implications. Too little attention is being given to the possibilities of invoking the assistance of international institutions for peacefully arbitrating and adjudicating the array of complex, conflicting claims involved.
— Jerome A. Cohen
  US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  U.S. Embassy The Hague

US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. Embassy The Hague


— 孔杰荣

Jerome A. Cohen, The Cross-Strait Meeting’s Lasting Impact, Foreign Policy, November 9, 2015.

The summit will affect how future Taiwanese leaders approach mainland China, and re-focus American attention on the relationship.

The summit has also had an impact on United States relations with both sides of the strait. It has revived, if only temporarily, Americans’ awareness of Taiwan and of the importance of cross-strait developments. The U.S. government will undoubtedly want to push back at Xi’s attempt to exclude Washington from the Taiwan puzzleThe U.S. government will undoubtedly want to push back at Xi’s attempt to exclude Washington from the Taiwan puzzle, as part of Beijing’s effort to reduce American influence in Asia generally. We can also expect further U.S. efforts to prevent deterioration in cross-strait relations if the DPP comes to power as anticipated.

I hope that the summit will also lead Americans, fully conscious of China’s growing prominence, to learn more about Taiwan’s immense progress in the past generation, especially in showing that at least one ethnically Chinese political-legal culture can develop a manageable democratic system that effectively protects internationally-guaranteed political and civil rights. Smart politics and good manners apparently kept Ma from flaunting this accomplishment in front of Xi and their Singapore hosts, who themselves have not reached Taiwan’s degree of freedom. Yet Taiwan’s security during the coming generation rests upon the extent to which the American people and their politicians and officials will support the island’s future progress. Taiwan’s democratic achievements constitute the most persuasive argument for continuing that support.
— Jerome A. Cohen
 Photo source: The Office of the President of Taiwan

Photo source: The Office of the President of Taiwan


我认为马英九总统主要是想树立一个强调过程、具有象征意义的先例。他并不意在取得任何实质性的结果,而且他现在也不在这样一个可以进行实质性谈判的政治位置上。我相信马英九希望开拓一系列持续性的领导层会晤,借此加强海峡两岸的沟通,激发两方的政府部门将注意力集中在合作上,并希望这些合作比他第二任期间的合作更具创造性。这次与习近平的会晤是马英九继第一任期后在加强两岸交流合作方面成就的顶峰。马政府第一任内通过创新的方式,使台湾在与其对手中国大陆谈判中不失平等和尊严,这是令人钦佩的巨大成就,但台湾人民和国际社会给予马英九的赞许太少。这次会晤是否能成为一次真正的先例,而不是昙花一现,甚至是个错误,将取决于马的继位者——不管是“他”还是“她” ——能否在这次会晤的基础上有所建树。
— 孔杰荣

The China-Taiwan Summit, A ChinaFile Conversation, Richard Bernstein, Andrew J. Nathan, Jerome A. Cohen, Ho-fung Hung, November 5, 2015.

I agree with Andrew Nathan’s analysis of the M-X meeting. Moreover, I want to endorse the desirability of the meeting despite the understandable anxieties it has provoked in Taiwan. I do not think the meeting’s outcome, which is likely to be modest—yet important—will vindicate the many concerns that have been voiced on the island.
— Jerome Cohen

孔傑榮、張語軒,拖延陳文敏任命 如 嘲諷中國「支持法治」宣言,明報,2015年9月28日。

— 孔傑榮、張語軒

Jerome Cohen & Alvin Cheung, Delay in HKU appointment of Johannes Chan makes a mockery of Beijing's pledged support for rule of law, South China Morning Post, September 25, 2015.

 Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun,  Photo: Edward Wong

Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, Photo: Edward Wong

Jerome A. Cohen and Alvin Cheung say the protracted delay in the appointment of an outspoken HKU law professor reflects worrying interference in academic freedom

It is dismaying to learn of the pressures now faced by Hong Kong academics who are perceived to be critical of certain Chinese central government policies. Recent developments at the University of Hong Kong have been particularly disturbing.
— Jerome A. Cohen and Alvin Cheung

— 孔杰荣

Jerome Cohen, The insecurity underpinning Xi Jinping’s repression, Washington Post, September 23, 2015.

After dealing with this week’s challenging U.S. agenda, which is set to cover cyberespionage and intellectual property theft, the South China Sea, Taiwan and international law, currency valuation and bilateral investment negotiations, human rights and repatriation of Chinese both wanted and unwanted by Beijing, Xi will return to yet another domestic celebration — the Oct. 1 holiday marking the 66th anniversary of the People’s Republic. Yet, when all the hoopla has ended, he will have to ask himself, as the insecure dictators of Taiwan and South Korea asked themselves 30 years ago: How long can any modernizing authoritarian regime rely on repression to cope with the mounting problems magnified by the very economic and social progress it has promoted?
— Jerome A. Cohen

孔杰荣,向中国遣返逃犯的法律与道德困境,纽约时报中文网, 2015年9月22日。

 Alex Wong—Getty Images

Alex Wong—Getty Images

我是中美合作的虔诚信徒。和很多美国人一样,我支持习近平举世瞩目的反腐败运动。我乐于见到美国摆脱从中国或其他国家潜逃来美的真正腐败的逃犯。然而, 对于中美引渡条约谈判而言,我无法想象会有一个比目前更糟糕的时间点,除非中国再次陷入一次“文化大革命”或者像“六四”事件那样的对年轻人的屠杀。
— 孔傑榮/柯恩(Jerome A. Cohen)

Jerome Cohen, Should the U.S. Extradite Chinese Wanted by Beijing?, A ChinaFile Conversation, August 5, 2015.

I am a great believer in Sino-American cooperation. Like many Americans I support Xi Jinping’s remarkable campaign against corruption. I would be happy to rid the United States of genuinely corrupt fugitives from any country, including China. Yet, unless China experiences another Cultural Revolution or a slaughter of its youth similar to that of June 4, 1989, I cannot imagine a worse time for the two countries to negotiate an extradition treaty.
— Jerome A. Cohen

高德、孔杰荣,被中美彼此误读的“网络安全”, 金融时报中文网, 2015年8月5日。

纽约大学法律与安全中心执行主任高德 (Zachary K. Goldman)、纽约大学法学院教授孔杰荣(Jerome A. Cohen)

— 高德 (Zachary K. Goldman)、孔傑榮/柯恩(Jerome A. Cohen)

Zachary Goldman & Jerome A. Cohen, Differing outlooks impede Sino-US cooperation to enhance cybersecurity, South China Morning Post, August 3, 2015.

Over the past several years, the United States and China have had conversations – at the highest levels of government – about cybersecurity concerns. These dialogues have focused on possibilities for developing norms to improve relations. Thus far, discussions have yielded little progress. China’s new National Security Law and its draft Cybersecurity Law make clear one reason for the stalemate.
— Zachary Goldman and Jerome A. Cohen

Zachary Goldman and Jerome A. Cohen consider the challenge of Sino-US cooperation on cybersecurity