A victory for the rule of law: an untold story in China
It all culminated in these articles at the beginning of June. I won’t bother quoting from the articles; the titles are pretty self-explanatory:
New York Times: Beijing Suspends Licenses of 2 Lawyers Who Offered to Defend Tibetans in Court
Washington Post: China Shuts Out 2 Lawyers Over Tibetans’ Cases
Toronto Star: Lawyers pay high price for coming to aid of Tibetans
Reuters: China rights lawyers say licenses blocked after Tibet call
The articles largely agree in content, and are basically copied directly from press releases from activist dissident groups: the two lawyers were denied their licenses for political reasons, authoritarian China, no sign of reform, etc, etc…
Well, we’ve learned more about their situations since. However, the Western media doesn’t seem very interested in telling the rest of the story. We’ll just have to discuss it here.
One the lawyers named in the stories, Teng Biao, still has not received his license to practice law. However, the reason for the continued denial is now more clear. This press release from Weiquanwang (Rights Defense Net) gives us the details (连接):
China’s famous rights-defense lawyer, and professor at China University of Politics and Law, Teng Biao has still not been able to complete the annual validation of his lawyer license. This is because the China University of Politics and Law has refused to issue a document, showing agreement that he could work part-time (moonlight) as a lawyer outside of the university.
The University of Politics and Law used to be relatively open and tolerant, but the refusal to provide relevant documents this time clearly indicates they’ve received pressure from above.
Of course, even if the University used to be “tolerant”, I don’t see their refusal to allow Teng Biao to take on part-time legal work as being equivalent to political pressure. And the question begs to be asked: why doesn’t Teng Biao just resign his teaching position at the (government-funded) University of Politics and Law?
There is better news for the other lawyer named. On June 30th, Jiang Tianyong announced via an open-letter that he had received his license (连接). His letter is titled “A victory for rule of law“, and translated here:
At around 2 PM on June 30th, my lawyer’s license passed its annual verification. At this point, I have been unable to practice for a month; compared to other lawyers at my firm, its been delayed for two months. But it ultimately was approved, just as I firmly believed it always would be. This is a victory for the rule of law!
I’m thankful for the concern, help, and support I’ve received from friends in all fields!
In recent months, many friends have expressed concern over my annual verification, and frequently asked: “can it be solved?” My response: “I believe in the law, it will be approved.” Approval for my lawyer license will greatly increase all of our confidence in law, and the rule of law in China. This event signifies progress in the rule of law in China, and I firmly believe that rule of law will continue to progress in China without any reversal! Today isn’t the same as yesterday; now isn’t the same as the past!
From my heart, I would like to express my praise and appreciation for the city of Beijing’s legal ministry for having the spirit to bravely correct its mistakes. I also deeply hope that the small number of workers in the ministry with a weak understanding of the law will keep studying the law, and establish deeper understanding of rule of law. I hope they will become accustomed to China’s continued development in rule of law, and avoid any further incidents that severely hurt the image of rule of law in China.
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