Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rule of law; rule of Party

What this report from Edward Wong in The New York Times illustrates is how far the Chinese system has come in creating a rule of law and some of the political limits imposed on that rule of law by those who want to maintain a rule of Party.

Chinese Lawyers Chafe at New Oath to Communist Party
China’s Justice Ministry has issued a requirement that new lawyers and those reapplying for licenses swear an oath of loyalty to the Communist Party, another step in a campaign to rein in lawyers who continue to challenge the political and legal systems by which the party maintains power.

The Justice Ministry posted the oath on its Web site on Wednesday. The core of it says: “I swear to faithfully fulfill the sacred mission of legal workers in socialism with Chinese characteristics. I swear my loyalty to the motherland, to the people, to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system, and to protect the dignity of the Constitution and laws.”

Several lawyers said the oath was the first they knew of to force them to pledge fealty to the Communist Party. China has been tightening controls over liberal voices for several years, prompted by fears of unrest during the 2008 Olympics, concerns that the Arab revolutions might inspire domestic dissent, heightened tensions with ethnic minorities like the Tibetans and the Uighurs in the west, and the need for stability during this year’s once-a-decade leadership transition.

Rights lawyers say the controls have contributed to a severe rollback of legal reforms and are undermining efforts to strengthen the rule of law…

“The oath itself is full of contradictions,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer who has represented Lu Qing, the wife of Ai Weiwei, the rebel artist who was detained without charge in two secret locations for 81 days last year. “Lawyers swear loyalty to the party and to the sanctity of the law? We all know that the party’s interference is often the reason why the law can’t be implemented.”…

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