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China's Lawyers Told to Pledge Loyalty to Ruling Party
The Asian Lawyer
The Chinese government has laid down a new rule that requires lawyers to pledge their loyalty to the country and the leadership of the ruling Communist party.
According to a notice [in Chinese] posted on the Ministry of Justice's website, the oath was put in place "to raise the sense of honor, professional, political, and moral standards of Chinese lawyers."
Lawyers are required to officially take the oath within three months of receiving their license to practice Chinese law. The rule also applies to lawyers who are renewing their existing licenses, which they are required to do every year. It does not apply to registered foreign lawyers, who do not practice Chinese law.
Part of the oath reads: "I aspire to become a national practicing lawyer. I promise to faithfully fulfill the sacred mission of a worker under the socialist system of law with Chinese characteristics. [I promise to] Be loyal to the homeland and to the people, and support the Communist Party leadership." According to the ministry's notice, the oath reflects the core values of the legal profession: loyalty, service to the people, justice and honesty.
The notice also says that the ministry has tasked the judicial arms of local governments, working in conjunction with local bar associations, with organizing the oath-taking ceremonies.
Human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong told The Washington Post: "It is ridiculous for such a thing to occur in modern society. It's unimaginable that any other country would like to ask lawyers to pledge allegiance to a party."
Jiang added that he believes a lawyer's priority should be upholding the rights of his clients and respecting the law, reports the paper.
But a partner at one of China's leading law firms, who asked not to be named, says he believes the new rule will not directly affect the practice of law. Since China is effectively a one-party state, he adds, the oath simply amounts to a pledge of allegiance to the country.