By Donald Clarke, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Donald Clarke is a professor at George Washington University Law School. He founded Chinalaw, an Internet listserv, and writes the Chinese Law Prof Blog. The views expressed are his own.
The one-day trial of Gu Kailai in China on August 9th was, quite literally, a spectacle: something meant to be watched. (But not recorded, apparently, except by approval, even pencils were confiscated from the pre-selected audience.)
Gu, the wife of the fallen high-ranking Chinese politician Bo Xilai, had been charged in the death of Neil Heywood, a British businessman. Gu confessed to poisoning Heywood, allegedly because he threatened her son following a botched business deal.
The case has caught the attention of many because of the prominent status of the defendant and its steamy mix of allegations of murder, corruption, and even sex. But does it tell us anything new or interesting about the Chinese legal system? I think not.