In July 2010, the Tort Liability Law of the People’s Republic of China went into effect. Trying to envision the consequence of this new law at the time of its inauguration, I remembered a story I heard in my youth. A version ascribed to the Lakota, a Native American tribe in the United States, is essentially as follows: A few young men questioned the wisdom of a tribal elder and decided that, to test him, they would catch a small bird in one of the men’s hands. “‘Grandfather,’ one of the men would ask, ‘I have a bird in my hand. You are wise. Is the bird dead or alive?’” If the old man answered “alive,” the young man would crush the bird in his palms and show that it was dead. If, on the other hand, the old man said the bird was dead, the young man would open his hands and let the bird fly free. The young men proceeded with their plan and, in a large gathering of people, asked their question. “Grandfather, I have a bird in my hands . . . . Since you are wise, is the bird dead or alive?” The old man was silent for a time and then offered his response, “Grandson . . . the answer is in your hands.”
Posted on 12.21.11 to China, Tort Law.