Dogs think if they piss on something, it belongs to them.
China has pissed on the rule of law, including international law. Does that mean they own it now?
As we’ve been discussing here and here, based upon information we have reasons to regard as credible, when Beijing State Security detained US citizen Ge Xun while he was in China on a US Passport and Chinese visa, they refused to inform him of – let alone to exercise – his right to contact the US Consulate immediately. Furthermore we have yet discovered no evidence that the Chinese authorities notified the US Consulate of this arrest within the maximum limit of four days of the arrest. (We remain open to correction regarding the latter, if and only if the US State Department publicly confirms they were duly notified within the four day limit.)
The rule of law governing this case is the 1980 US-PRC Consular Convention, the pertinent parts being sections 2 and 3 of Article 35:
2. If a national of the sending State is arrested or placed under any form of detention within the consular district, the competent authorities of the receiving State shall immediately, but no later than within four days from the date of arrest or detention, notify the consulate of the sending State. If it is not possible to notify the consulate of the sending State within four days because of communications difficulties, they should try to provide notification as soon as possible. Upon the request of a consular officer, he shall be informed of the reasons for which said national has been arrested or detained in any manner.
3. The competent authorities of the receiving State shall immediately inform the national of the sending State of the rights accorded to him by this Article to communicate with a consular officer.
According to Ge Xun’s personal account, section 3 was indisputably violated by lawful representatives of the PRC by their refusal to allow Ge Xun to contact the US Consulate upon his request, such refusal being a fortiori a denial of his right to do so.
As for Ge Xun’s indication that Beijing’s State Security organs told him he could contact his Consulate “later”, the US-PRC Consular Convention includes no provisions or exceptions for the police arbitrarily to substitute “later” for “immediately”. The relevant canon of statutory interpretation, to which the PRC putatively ascribed when they signed this convention with the US, is “expressio unius est exclusio alterius”, meaning the explicit mention of one term, in its plain meaning, implies the exclusion of any other alternatives. The US-PRC convention says “immediately”, which excludes and is the opposite of “later”.
More simply, the PRC cannot just make up its own rules arbitrarily, at least not when interpreting and abiding by international conventions. Granted, China has full authority and power to interpret and enforce – or more often disregard – its own internal laws. But when a sovereign state contracts with another upon a treaty or convention, the convention is not an “internal affair”, it’s an international one, subject to the customs and conventions of international law.
In the case of Ge Xun, in light of the above, China has pissed upon international law, including one of China’s own treaties. But only a dog believes pissing on something means you own it.