February 25, 2017
LI JINXING, 60, is among China’s most active rights lawyers. He has successfully fought wrongful convictions over the past decade and also represented some of the country’s most prominent dissidents. Li was not arrested or jailed in the massive government crackdown on rights lawyer and activists two years ago, but he has not escaped punishment. His licence was suspended for a year in December after a court in Guangdong province ruled he was disrupting a court order while representing prominent legal activist Yang Maodong. Li spoke to JUN MAI about his work.
How did you become a criminal lawyer and why did you choose to be among the very few who take on politically sensitive cases?
I was a civil servant working in the law until 2003 when I felt I couldn’t really serve the public the way I wanted to. I then resigned and passed the legal exam. I met the country’s leading human rights lawyers in Beijing around 2007 or 2008, and started getting interested in the cases myself. I learned from them that earning money isn’t the most important thing. It’s even an evil thing to do when I could see so many people suffer because of legal injustice.
What type of cases do you usually take?
I’ve taken a lot of cases for entrepreneurs who’ve been charged. Such cases concern problems like the protection of property and due process. I also take some corruption cases. Judicial injustice has caused many wrongful convictions of people inside the Communist Party, too. I also take the cases of so called “political prisoners” like Yang Maodong.