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Guardian columnist tries to arrest John Bolton

John Bolton got a rude surprise today when George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper, tried to arrest the former Bush administration official after he finished a talk at a literary festival in Wales. Monbiot, who was stopped by security guards as he tried to make a citizen's arrest, defended his action:

This was a serious attempt to bring one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war to justice, for what is described under the Nuremberg Principles as an international crime," he said.

Apparently, festival organizers had investigated the matter beforehand and determined that the arrest would be unlawful. That makes sense to me, since Bolton isn't a British citizen and it's not at all clear that citizens arrests apply to matters of international law. Nor, in any case, has any relevant international body declared the war illegal. And why would Bolton specifically be culpable when he was never responsible for setting policy? It's also worth noting that both the British and U.S. governments consider the war legal.

But if any Passport readers out there have expertise on this question, please weigh in below or by e-mail. Was Monbiot's stunt as stupid as it seems?

UPDATE: Gideon Rachman comments.

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This Week in China

Earthquake

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

An estimated 7,000 schoolrooms were destroyed in the Sichuan quake, prompting many Chinese to ask why other surrounding buildings are still standing. During construction of one devastated school, for instance, sand was allegedly substituted for concrete. Parents remain outraged, in some cases bringing local party bosses to their knees, begging for forgiveness. Reconstruction of the "tofu schools" and other earthquake retrofits and repairs could cost China $60 billion.

A 5.4 magnitude aftershock on Tuesday toppled 420,000 houses and injured 63 people in Qingchuan county in Sichuan province. 

Police and soldiers rushed to control a "quake lake" created by the landslides. Authorities fear the lake that could burst and wreak havoc on populated areas downstream. So far, 160,000 people have been evacuated downriver and that number could rise to one million.

Xixi, the giant panda, escaped into the wild after the quake but has been recovered by staff at the Wolong research center. A second panda is still missing.

Politics

British PM Gordon Brown met with the Dalai Lama Friday, drawing "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" from Beijing. The spiritual leader also expressed interest in attending the Olympics, which China brushed aside.

China will complete construction of its new Washington embassy, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei's firm, in August. The 250,000 square-foot compound will be the largest embassy in the U.S. capital. The U.S. is also building a new 600,000 square-foot embassy in Beijing.

Economy

Shares of China Netcom and China Unicom soared Friday following the announcement of a merger between the two to compete with China Mobile. Analysts expect the introduction of 3G technology will bring big money into China's telecom sector.

A new law that takes effect Sunday will ban the production of ultra-thin plastic bags and forbid retailers from distributing bags for anything other than fresh produce and food.

Taiwan

KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung arrived in mainland China Monday for a six day visit that will focus on expanding charter flights and tourism with Taiwan. Today, he held a live-televised meeting with President Hu Jintao. Wu incensed members of Taiwan's DPP opposition party when he referred to President Ma Ying-jeou as "Mr. Ma" without regard to his title as leader of a sovereign country.

There was a rush for the pumps and plenty of frustration (video) as Taiwan's government announced a price hike in gas and diesel would take effect five days ahead of schedule.

Analysis

AEI's Claude Barfield argues in "Taiwan's Time" for the New York Sun that it's time for the U.S. to enter a free trade agreement with Taiwan now that Ma and the KMT have come to power.

Edward Chen's piece for the Taipei Times, "Ma's peace talk just the beginning" examines Ma's inaugural speech and the future of U.S.-Taiwan relations.

Stephen Glain's article, "The Modern Silk Road," in Newsweek highlights the growing economic clout of Asia and the Middle East and draws a parallel to the old trade route.

China Moment

China Daily put up a reminder today to support the country with"patriotic cultural T-shirts," saying, "So why not show off your muscles and your love towards China this summer with a T-shirt?"