On Sunday December 2, one day before Constitution Day in China, nearly 100,000 lawyers from more than 400 cities across the country participated in a group ceremony held in their region making a pledge to the constitution. The judicial administrative entity and the lawyer’s associations around the country organized the ceremony. Sohu reported that “the ceremony was not only for the legal profession to show respect for the constitution, a willingness to study the constitution and for their observance and maintenance of the constitution, but also to strengthen the ideological and political, as well as the professionalism of education among lawyers.” Fu Zhenghua, the Chinese Attorney General, even went to Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, serving as a witness to the pledges of hundreds of lawyers. The media described it as the first occurrence of such an event in the history of Communist China.
According to the newly revised “lawyers’ pledge rules,” the pledge is expressly required as a necessary procedure for lawyers to perform. Lawyers must execute the pledge and comply with the procedures and dress requirements that the authorities set. If lawyers do not take the pledge, a penalty will be imposed. However, according to Radio Free Asia, many lawyers in China still haven’t participated in the ceremony despite the potential penalty. One rights lawyer from Shanghai told RFA that he was not invited to the ceremony, but even if he had been invited, he still would not have gone because he dislikes putting on a show. Another lawyer said that the party treats lawyers as party members by organizing a group pledge ceremony. The pledge ceremony should be held individually not as a group, he said. Both lawyers said that China does not have judicial independence. The so-called “ruling the country according to law” is nothing but empty talk.
1. Sohu, December 3, 2018
2. Radio Free Asia, December 4, 2018