Thursday, January 08, 2009

China Meetings and the Chatham House Rule

These days well night every academic conference on China or NGO "consultations" with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs are held under the "Chatham House Rule"

This rule is explained on the Chatham website ( like this:

"The Chatham House Rule reads as follows:

'When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.'

The world-famous Chatham House Rule may be invoked at meetings to encourage openness and the sharing of information."

But I wonder why participants in meetings about China find it necessary to conceal their identities when stating an opinion on or interpretation of contemporary Chinese politics?   What are we afraid of?  Isn't openness and transparency what we ask of our Chinese counterparts?  Why do we not ask it of ourselves?


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