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Tibetan Prime Minister in Exile Agrees with Mao: “where there is repression, there is resistance”

Guest Blogger: Hamish Stewart

Hamish is a third year UBC Law student with interests in international and human rights law. He is the recipient of the 2013 UBC Law Research Abroad Grants Program, which provides students with the opportunity to participate in research projects internationally.

Here he discusses a recent talk given by Tibetan Prime Minister, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, at UBC on Tibet’s political future.

Tibetan Prime Minister in Exile Agrees with Mao: “where there is repression, there is resistance”

By Hamish Stewart

Speaking in Vancouver at the end of February, Tibetan Prime Minister in exile Dr. Lobsang Sangay had some words of wisdom for the audience, as well as words of hope for Tibetans around the world.  After a brief speech, the Prime Minister spent an hour taking questions from an audience surprised to see him in their midst – Vancouver is rarely a stop on diplomatic speaking tours, and this visit by a sitting head of state was a rare event. Since his election as the Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration in exile in 2011, Dr. Sangay has brought a new personality to Tibet’s international diplomacy. Following the Dalai Lama’s decision to step down from his political duties (he remains the spiritual head of state), the new Dr. Sangay continues to pursue what he describes as a “middle path” approach to Tibet’s relations with China.

Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay (left) with UBC Professor Wade Davis (right).

This approach hopes to achieve a level of autonomy for Tibet somewhere between the current state of repression and the full autonomy accorded to an independent nation state under international law.  The “middle path” sought by the Prime Minister does not go as far as requesting the level of autonomy granted to China’s Special Economic Zones in Shenzhen and other centrally adMinistered cities, or the “one country, two systems” approach adopted in Hong Kong, and Macau (another island colony which Portugal had been willing to return to China with none of the conditions for self-governance that were insisted on for Hong Kong).


Leaning on the Law

As a legal scholar, Dr. Sangay made sure to stress the clarity of Tibet’s claims to statehood under international law. According to the Prime Minister, the long historical record of Tibet as an independent state, with (a) distinctive and well established territorial boundaries; (b) an easily identifiable national population; and (c) the formal recognition of Tibet by other states through formal diplomacy and the signing of treaties, all establish its status as an independent nation under international law.  With this relatively unassailable argument for Tibetan statehood, Dr. Sangay’s request for a basic level of autonomy – akin to that which is enjoyed by the centrally administered city of Chongqing, for example – appeared as a modest request.

The last 50 year’s of Tibetan occupation were described as an aberration in the legal history of Tibet-China relations, which have been characterised by mutual recognition of sovereignty and back and forth conquests through a number of dynasties. According to the Prime Minister, the mode of accommodation that existed in the Qing, Ming, and earlier dynasties would be preferable to the current state of repressive politics.

These historical comparisons elicited an angry response from one audience member, who suggested that Tibet lacked the pre-existing legal frameworks for self-government existing in Hong Kong. With a JSD in law from Harvard University, Dr. Sangay was able to provide a meticulous articulation of Tibet’s claim for legal autonomy both under the Constitution of China as well as under international law.

When asked about the nature of Tibetan resistance to repression and occupation, the Prime Minister responded that Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, summed up the current state of affairs:  “Where there is repression, there is resistance.” He then went on to describe his position on self-immolation of Tibetans inside Tibet – an issue which both himself and the Dalai Lama have spoken publicly on – stating that self-immolation is not an effective technique and that “all life is precious.”


Q&A with Andrew Guaglio

Graduating student Andrew Guaglio is a recipient of the 2012/2013 Premier Undergraduate Scholarship and Wesbrook Scholarship. Thirteen students across the university were selected this year for what is UBC’s most prestigious student award. The award is given to a senior student with outstanding records in the areas of academics, participation in sports, leadership, and involvement in student and community activities. We asked Andrew a few questions about his achievements and experience at UBC Law.

What were some of your extra-curricular activities during law school?

While in law school, I tried to get involved in as many activities as possible, especially those with either a public interest or criminal law focus. My primary involvement was with Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes human rights and the rule of law by providing support internationally to human rights defenders in danger. I began with LRWC as a volunteer researcher and later took a position as Assistant to the Executive Director from the end of 1L until graduation.

In addition to working with LRWC, I volunteered with the UBC Law Students’ Legal Advice Program as a clinician and then clinic head of the Immigration and Refugee clinic, worked as a research assistant for Mary T. Ainslie, Q.C., senior Crown counsel with Vancouver’s Criminal Appeals and Special Prosecutions office, participated as a student caseworker with the UBC Law Innocence Project, worked as a summer articling student with the firm Peck and Company, and was a member of the 2012-2013 Gale Cup Moot team. After finishing as a student caseworker with the Innocence Project, I continued working on the research and writing that I began with the Project and have been preparing two papers to submit for publication.

Why did you choose to go to law school?

I came to law school in order to pursue a career in criminal law. My general fascination with the subject has been fueled by my long-standing interest in the issue of wrongful convictions and my desire to develop the expertise required to both prevent and correct these injustices. I also came to UBC Law with a view to eventually working as a litigator in the International Criminal Court. I hope to actively participate in the continuing development of the international criminal justice system.

How did you juggle school and other activities?

I juggled school and other activities by being organized and over-caffeinated, the latter likely being the critical factor.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I will article with the firm Peck and Company. I am also serving on the Board of Directors for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada from 2013 to 2014. From 2014 to 2015, I will clerk with the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Can you describe your law school experience?

My law school experience has been many things, but mostly it has been thought-provoking, empowering, and rewarding (the phrase “stressful at times” might appropriately follow shortly thereafter). I have learned so much in my three years of law school, largely due to the tremendous number of opportunities that were placed before me and the phenomenal instructors in the law faculty. I considered myself truly fortunate to have had the chance to attend UBC Law.


Q&A with a Lisa Jørgensen

Graduating student Lisa Jørgensen is a recipient of the 2012/2013 Premier Undergraduate Scholarship and Wesbrook Scholarship. Thirteen students across the university were selected this year for what is UBC’s most prestigious student award. The award is given to a senior student with outstanding records in the areas of academics, participation in sports, leadership, and involvement in student and community activities. We asked Lisa a few questions about her achievements and experience at UBC Law. 

Why did you choose to go to law school?

I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. I debated competitively throughout my undergrad and absolutely love oral argument. But after finishing my BAH in Political Science I wasn’t so sure. I decided to take a couple years off to work and think about what I wanted to do with my life. That eventually lead to me pursuing teaching English overseas. I lived in Mexico for a couple months and eventually spent a year teaching in Cairo, Egypt. Many of my friends worked with refugee groups in Egypt and I heard their stories/did some volunteer work/spent a considerable amount of time getting to know the community through my students and their families. My time in Egypt, just months before the revolution, showed me the disgusting things that can transpire in the absence of a just legal system. My experiences renewed my dedication to going to law school – I wrote the LSAT and applied while living Cairo. It was the best decision I ever made.

How did you juggle school and other activities?

For me it was all about setting priorities and staying organized. School was always my top priority. I spent quite a lot of time at the beginning of each semester getting a sense of which courses required more or less time and scheduled my time accordingly. In first year, when competitive debating took me overseas for 4 weeks over the course of the year, I did a lot of reading in advance and scheduled meetings with my professors to make sure I understood everything.

I didn’t find it hard to fit in outside activities I care about. I think that it’s important to maintain who you are and do things that keep you happy and sane during law school. Being able to focus on things other than school that I enjoy kept me relaxed and focused, whether it was something law-centric like volunteering at a nonprofit, going to the gym, or reading bad fiction. For me, law school wasn’t just about school; a big part of it was getting the chance to take on challenging and exciting non-academic roles that let me apply my studies in a practical setting. Ultimately, I found that I was able to make time for all the things I cared about – friends, family, my partner, school, volunteer work, etc. by staying organized and having a clear sense of what mattered most to me.

What are your plans for after graduation?

This summer I will be working for the Crown Law Office – Criminal in Toronto and writing the bar exam in Ontario. In September I am starting a clerkship at the Ontario Court of Appeal. I am not entirely sure what I will do after my clerkship, but I hope to return to the firm I summered at to pursue a career in civil litigation.

Can you describe your law school experience?

Law school has been an amazing experience. I came to law school with a sense that law was what I wanted to do, but was otherwise pretty directionless. Law school has given me a clear set of priorities and opened up a career that has me genuinely excited. The professors at UBC are fantastic. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from them over the past three years. I’ve also been blown away by the support I’ve received to pursue my own interests and goals from everyone at UBC Law. I am excited to start my career, but I will miss being at UBC Law.

Law Student Bloggers Wanted!

UBC Faculty of Law is looking for volunteer student bloggers interested in writing about their experiences at law school. If you are willing to share your UBC law experience with prospective students and the public via this blog, then please e-mail Acting Assistant Dean, Students Pam Cyr with a statement of interest by Friday, September 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm.

Bloggers may be from any year of law school. The posting commitment is approximately once per month.

Summer project in China leaves this student with some lasting memories

Submitted by Emmanuel Fung 

The Carbolic Smokeball Advertisement at HKU Law Library

In the summer following my first year at UBC Law, I had the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong and South China to perform research on trade and labour practices in the manufacturing export industry.

Professor Ljiljana Biukovic at the University of British Columbia supervised the research, which was performed under the umbrella of the Asia Pacific Dispute Resolution project at UBC’s Institute for Asian Research. The goal was to improve Corporate Social Responsibility practices for Canadian importers.

Funding for the research was provided by UBC Law’s Travel Abroad Research Grants, which enables two UBC Law students (of any year) to perform research on a topic of their choosing. Students may design their own projects, or may choose from a list of proposals sponsored by law professors.

The following blog entry details a few of the things I saw in China. I would really encourage all UBC Law students with an interest in research abroad to apply for this fantastic opportunity next year. I would be more than happy to share more about my experiences with any students:





Looking out the window of a train on the way to Guangzhou

It is around nine or so on a Wednesday night and I am in the backseat of a Dodge Caravan on my way to Hong Kong’s border with Shenzhen, China eating a Big Mac and fries and sipping a Coke.

My guide, a factory owner from South China, sits beside me and has four cell phones arrayed in front of him. He’s mechanically switching the SIM cards in his phones as we prepare to cross the border.

Armchair economists compare the price of Big Macs in locales around the world to map out inflation and currency parity. Coke consumption is loosely, but positively related to a country’s wealth. I’m not sure what the French Fry index signifies.

When I was here a year ago, the cost of a Big Mac meal was 20HKD or about 2.50USD (see proof above). The price for the same burger, fries and soft drink was now 28.2HKD. That’s a forty percent increase in price. To compare, 2- 3% inflation is generally considered a healthy rate.

We cross the border, pass through customs and we meet another driver nearby. This Buick will take us to a prefecture of Shenzhen. I am told that it is another two hours to our destination. Along the way, I contemplate Chinese inflation and the econometrics of Happy Meals and am lulled to a happy sleep.

The Price of a Big Mac Meal in 2011 and 2012

In my sleep, I get the sensation that I’m falling, or that I’m paused, midair, after tripping. And then I’m jolted awake. I guess that the van had dropped two inches or so as it crossed from one section of the road to the next. This happens again as the van soon crosses another section of road. I stare out the window into the dark and it takes a few moments before I am able to make out shapes passing us and before I realize how quickly we’re moving.

I don’t think emergency services are called if there’s an accident at this speed. They just bring a bulldozer.

I watch as we pass vehicle after vehicle on the highway. The only time we slow down is when we almost die – like when the truck we happen to be tailgating brakes. I get the feeling that the driver gets off from the speed.  A lime green Toyota CRV pulls ahead of us but we soon pass it again.

“Money can’t buy happiness, but without money you’ll surely be unhappy.” My friend had shared this Chinese proverb with me the day before.

I am a bit on edge and can’t sleep so I work through questions that I want to ask people tomorrow. I had prepared a guide when I was in Vancouver, but my research directions have changed a bit since then. I am not sure exactly how to work my questions and I’m worried I won’t be able to properly translate my questions into Chinese. I think about the proverb my friend shared and wonder if I can tease a question out of it.

Our driver flashes his high beams to alert the driver of a truck that we’re about to pass. It’s a safety precaution, you see. Or maybe he’s just hoping the driver will get out of his lane.

Then, I have giddy understanding that I’m at the frontier of the world economy.

The first and last two minutes of a flight are the most dangerous. On landing, all kinds of horrible things can go wrong. On takeoff, the structural pressure on the plane is greater than any other time in the flight. I always feel a moment of trepidation just as the plane leaves the ground. This is because I know that in that moment, the pilot must decide whether to commit absolutely to the take off, or to set the plane down safely.

In that moment, the immense weight of the plane becomes obvious as it struggles against gravity and vibrates uncontrollably. The notion that the heavy plane is about to rise thirty thousand feet seems absurd. Then, the pilot commits to the takeoff and lets the jets roar. The incredible and unstoppable power of the jets under the wings is felt as the vibrations stabilize, your head pulls back slightly from the acceleration and any doubt disappears.

This is how I feel now as the Buick rumbles and bounces along the highway. I am being jetted to my destination – a production municipality in Guangdong – by an unstoppable economic force.

This Buick and the highway we are speeding along are vital pieces of infrastructure. They carry my sleeping friend. I’m sure he has not had much sleep recently because he told me that he’s been to four countries over the last two days on business. His factory produces the kind of secondary materials that are necessary for construction and I conclude that his insane schedule bodes well for the global economic recovery. He is a small, important cog in a global economic engine.

The next day, someone told me that the drive we completed in two hours the night before should have taken at least three. Every business owner I later spoke with underscored the stress, the business of manufacturing in China and trading with the world. We kept a breakneck pace that night because there was no practical alternative.

I imagine that no vehicles ever passed us because they were all well ahead.

Container Ships in the Hong Kong Harbour from the International Finance Centre - Many Chinese goods pass through Hong Kong's ports

The inflation and the rapid pace of change in China have been accompanied by a large volume of journalism and academic writing. In the research on corporate social responsibility, scholars have observed the “increased business focus” and “hyper-competitiveness” of small and medium sized firms. Speaking to business people in Hong Kong and South China, I felt this urgency over-and-over again in a way that these sanitized descriptions could not capture. More than anything else, this sense of pressure and urgency changed the way I understood and approached my work.

At the same time, the academic literature fails to meaningfully convey the “increased salience of personal values in decision making processes”. Likely, I’ve read too little, but I’ve yet to encounter adequate mention of the generosity or amiability of business persons in the academic literature. This culture and attitude contrast strongly from the hard and fast bargaining of business.

I remember one occasion where ten or so of us were chatting after lunch – business partners, an export advisor, a major client, an ex-employee now subcontractor, someone’s friend, someone’s brother. The languorous lunch – a twelve course affair –  was a daily ritual for them and at other factories I’ve visted.  As usual, a few were enjoying a post-prandial smoke.  Often as is the case when I – the foreigner – am present, the conversation turned to my motherland.

Tony our host (he pays for the meal) is considering sending his son to study abroad somewhere. “He gets teary eyed at the thought” his brother mocked him gently. “Imagine what it’ll be like when it’s his daughter’s turn.” Everyone laughs. “There is too much discrimination in America and Britain, but I hear in Canada all you need is Chinese. English isn’t necessary to get around”. The comment was addressed to me. I answered with a joke and they continued, satisfied. “What if he comes back with a foreign girl?” “Best to keep him at home, then.” Tony looked pleased at that.

“Why would want anyone immigrate?” Tony then asked rhetorically. “Everyone who immigrates eventually returns because they’re so bored. Here I get to hang out every day. I have all my friends and family here. Life as an expat is boring, there is no brotherhood” (this word is particularly difficult to translate). The table agreed.

And it’s true. Later, one of our lunch companions, a trader from Hong Kong, said to me privately: “When people wonder what I do when I’m in China for business, I tell them that I’m just here to mooch food and drink.”

I have rarely experienced that level of openness and amiability. Like myself, some were new additions to the group. Others were old hands and knew the lunch time routine – unabashed moochers. Not that Tony minded. All were business companions of some form who just happened to be hanging around the factory when noon rolled around. Invitations to lunch all around, every day – Tony’s treat. Everyone chatted like old friends. That is the culture there.

I returned to Hong Kong three days later and three lunches fuller. The night I returned, I lay in bed feeling very grateful and sad that I’ll likely never find myself around Tony’s factory at noon, again.

These two experiences – and many others I lack space to describe – challenged and altered the way I thought about trade and corporate social responsibility. Firstly, I found that unless CSR complemented and improved trade practices, it would have absolutely no resonance with small factory owners. CSR must to be simple, practical and reduce stress for manufacturers, not increase it. Second, one overlooked advantage of CSR for Canadian importers was the opportunity to develop closer relationships with manufacturers. Though I have not described them here, I learned firsthand about the unexpected advantages of good feeling between small businesses in China. For importers to gain these advantages, CSR must facilitate these relationships. It must not be overly aggressive, but should communicate good will.

Back in the van on the way to Shenzhen, one of my sleep-deprived friend’s many cellphones rings and wakes him. He rises to answer it.

“Hello?” It’s a North American client he met yesterday. “Yes yes, we have your new specifications. I will email you the price tomorrow. Ok? Thank you, bye.” Before he settles in to sleep again, he looks at me and asks if I was able to sleep.  “Just a bit, thanks.”

I should mention that while we were still in Hong Kong, he had asked whether I was hungry. I insisted that I had just eaten, but he ignored me and told the driver stop anyway. On our breakneck journey for the border, there was no time to sit down for a meal. So…Macdonald’s for everyone. His treat, of course.

 I am extremely grateful to the donor of the Travel Abroad Research Grant for the funding for this research, for the incredible generosity and hospitality of the friends and business persons mentioned in this piece, to my supervisor Ljiljana Biukovic for her time and guidance, and to all those who have been so open with their time, support and expertise. 

Dean for the Day

Submitted by Andrew Dilts








Andrew Dilts in Dean Mary Anne Bobinski’s office as he takes over Dean duties for the day.

On one sunny spring Friday, I was officially installed as the Dean of UBC Law . . . for a day.

 The experience was both enriching, educational, and fun. UBC Law’s widely-respected (real) dean, Mary Anne Bobinski, had hosted a competition to see who would fill her shoes. The opportunity was open to all law students, requiring a 500-word submission on what each would do as “Dean for a Day”. It was designed as a true prince-and-pauper experience: one student would take over the dean’s office, parking spot, and responsibilities, and Dean Bobinski would attend that student’s classes for the day.

 After my submission won me the honour, Dean Bobinski and I decided that my day would be Friday, March 23. However, I was approached by students, faculty, and staff as early as mid-February. Issues ranged from serious faculty issues to relatively minor technical problems (“can you fix the hot water in the showers?”) to humorous requests (“can you give everyone an ‘A’ this year?”). True to the real dean’s job—or so I imagine—I spent many hours behind the scenes preparing for the job.

On my day as dean, I barely had time to check my email. I have no idea how Dean Bobinski actually manages to get work done, though I know her incredibly helpful staff certainly plays a role. From the minute I showed up in the morning, I had serious meetings with students, staff, and faculty. I also had a few people stop by throughout the day “just to see what the dean’s office was like”. I’m told that the dean often spends many hours late into the evening catching up on emails, and I completely believe it.









Despite the busy-ness, I was able to organize a few creative initiatives of my own. I led students in hosting an inaugural faculty and staff appreciation session in the morning, and ran a special UBC Law edition of Ignite in the afternoon, helping to showcase the diverse experiences and backgrounds of a few members of our extremely talented student body. I was also able to achieve a few UBC Law dean “firsts”: first to use social media, and first to participate in the proud, long-standing tradition of the Trike Race (think: law students relay-racing tricycles in costume while their peers throw water balloons at them). After all, a (temporary) dean should take his job too seriously.

I’m admittedly suffering a bit of withdrawal since the experience. After all, when is the next time I’ll have the opportunity to have such a high-profile leadership role? But I have gained a new respect not just for the dean, but for the staff and faculty who assist her in helping make UBC Law one of Canada’s top law schools. Perhaps I’ll apply again next year.

So what did Andrew’s hectic day as the Dean look like? Here was his schedule:

8:30am: student meeting in “my” office. Issues addressed focused on ensuring proper support systems are in place for all UBC law students, not just those who enjoy success in the current system.

9:00am: meeting with members of the UBC Law Development Office. Two key issues were addressed:

(1)    How to better engage students as they become alumni, and engage them in alumni events

(2)    Inviting Governor General David Johnston to UBC Law for various speaking events, including the one-year anniversary of Allard Hall (schedule permitting).

 9:45am: preparation for other events of the day. Also, updated my Facebook profile to reflect my new position – likely becoming the first dean of UBC Law to use social media.

 10:20am: faculty/staff appreciation event. Terrance Lounge at Allard Hall, where coffee, donuts, and fruit were provided for any faculty and staff who wished to attend. Students from representative organizations in the student body (e.g., LSS, Law Review, Careers Committee) were present to offer words of thanks to various staff members. The event will likely become an annual appreciation.

11:00am: another student meeting in my office, followed by a meeting with a faculty member.

Noon: UBC Law inaugural “Ignite” event, helping to showcase the diverse backgrounds and talents of our student body. The event was a real success, and will likely be instituted as an annual event.

1:00pm: UBC Law Review Annual General Meeting. As a member of the Law Review’s board, I was required to attend (as a student). I also officially became one of two Editors-in-Chief for the 2012–2013 year.

2:00pm: meeting with staff members at the UBC Law Library on a number of issues, including non-law student policies in the UBC library, and how to better use the classroom in the library.

 2:30pm: more meetings with students.

 3:00pm: 40th annual UBC Law Trike Race, where I participated as a member of the “National Trike Race Champions” team (the team that won the inaugural national trike race at the 2012 Law Games). Likely the first dean of UBC Law to participate in this event, though future deans were strongly welcomed.

 5:00pm: finally able to relax and celebrate the day – and check my email for the first time – in the office.

 6:00pm: closed and left the dean’s office, Dean for a Day no longer.