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Suing for China, the American Way

CNN is discovering the hard way that there's a major difference between Chinese and American visions of justice -- and restitution. As reported in Reuters, a group of Chinese lawyers have filed suit against CNN in Beijing, alleging that derogatory remarks by commentator Jack Cafferty violated the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people.  During a discussion over the spate of recalls of goods manufactured in China, Cafferty termed Chinese products "junk," and added that "They are basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." CNN has since claimed that Cafferty was expressing an opinion of the Chinese government and not the people of China. The Chinese lawyers bringing suit sought the restoration of the Chinese people's reputation through publications and in the media and asked for 100 yuan ($14.31) in damages.

What a difference a forum makes, however. Today, Reuters reports that a Chinese primary school teacher and a beautician have filed a suit against CNN in New York over Cafferty remarks. As damages, they are seeking $1.3 billion in compensation -- $1 per person in China. (In case you're wondering whether $1.3 billion in the United States has the same purchase power as 100 yuan in China, it doesn't -- according to this item, 500 yuan is the price of a dog).   

I'm not sure how the Chinese primary school teacher and beautician have standing to sue on behalf of persons in China, given that they don't live there. But who cares about technicalities like Article III of the Constitution (assuming that the case is in federal court) when reputation is at stake? Ironic, though that those outside of China appear to place a higher value on damage to the reputation of the Chinese than those living in the country.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 24, 2008 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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