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Chinese lawyers have to take an oath of allegiance to the Communist Party under a new measure introduced by the country’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
The MoJ has issued a new measure requiring newly qualified lawyers or lawyers renewing their practising certificates to swear allegiance to the Communist Party of China (CPC) within three months of receiving their qualification. It stated that the move is intended to raise the political, moral and professional quality of the country’s lawyers.
A portion of the oath reads: “I pledge to faithfully fulfill the sacred mission of a worker of the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, be loyal to the country, loyal to the people, support the leadership of the Communist Party of China, support the socialist system… and strive for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
The measure comes as the Chinese government prepares for a leadership transition later this year. Although the country’s business and commercial legal framework has developed significantly over recent years, lawyers who advocate for human rights or act on politically sensitive cases have come under more stringent scrutiny.
The move has caused hot debate on China’s popular microblog Sina Weibo. Many Weibo users have criticised the party’sinterference with judicial independence.
“Lawyers’ fundamental duties are owed to the administration of justice and to serve the best interests of a client. They shouldn’t be ordered to put the interests of the party before the law, justice and interests of clients,” said one Weibo user.
“Does that mean members of the country’s eight other political parties couldn’t become a lawyer,” asked another user.
“The government can force people to say these words but it doesn’t mean they can win people’s heart,” commented another.