Singapore and Hutongs

G’day from Beijing!

This week was quite eventful as I spent most of my time divided between two projects. For me, splitting my time in this way works best. I find that switching from one task to another gives me space to think, which allows me to make connections that I otherwise would not have made.

For the first half of the week, I continued working on the Civil Society Project. This week, my supervisor and I focused on the various laws regarding the tax-deductibility of real property gifts. I really enjoyed this research because it allowed me to draw on the knowledge I gained from property class. I know that this is going to make me sound geeky, but I really enjoyed explaining future interests and present intent to my Chinese colleagues.

While conducting this research, my supervisor asked that I investigate an additional country, Singapore. If you have been following this blog you will know that until now I have focused on the following countries: the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Japan. Naturally, I was thrilled to work on Singapore because it provided me an excuse to research Singapore’s legal structure and legal history. As a former English Colony, it is quite influenced by trends in both England and Australian law. In fact, it was quite interesting to note the parallels between the regulatory structures in these three countries.

For the second half of the week, I assisted with a project overseen by Director Tong, the founder and lead attorney at the Zhicheng Public Interest Law Firm. For this project, I researched the legal structure for child services in Canada. As in the United States, child welfare services in Canada are handled at the provincial level. Although most provinces have a similar structure—allegations of abuse are reported to local offices where social workers investigate these claims—key differences exist. For example, according to my research not all provinces maintain a child abuse registry. In addition, not all provinces have a well-defined scheme for penalizing the non-reporting of abuse.

Director Tong will use this research when he lobbies the Chinese government for a revision to the legal structure of child services in China. I hope that my work will provide useful as the Chinese government considers alternatives to the current regulatory regime.

Outside of work, I have focused on exploring Beijing and studying Chinese. My conversation partner tells me that I am not half bad. On Saturday she and I explored the city by bus, by subway and by foot. The sky was clear and quite blue. It was the perfect weather for drinking cold tea and exploring Hutongs.