China: China Moves to Shutter Law Firm at Center of Crackdown on Rights Lawyers

March 6, 2018

More than 70 lawyers with a history of defending vulnerable groups attend a 'symposium' in Beijing, Aug. 29, 2017.

Authorities in the Chinese capital look set to revoke the business license of the Beijing Fengrui law firm, the focus of an ongoing operation targeting human rights lawyers and activist that began with raids on its partners in July 2015.

In a “Notice of Administrative Penalty Hearing” sent to the firm on Monday, the Beijing municipal department of justice said Fengrui is suspected of having breached regulations governing law firms “to a serious degree.”

“Our investigations have revealed that your law firm has been negligent in managing its lawyers, and has connived to harbor and protect lawyers engaged in illegal activities,” the notice says.

It cited the subversion case against former Fengrui head Zhou Shifeng, currently serving a seven-year jail term for “subversion of state power,” and the campaigning activities of rights activist Wu Gan, known by his online nickname “The Butcher,” who was allegedly “instructed” by Zhou.

Under Zhou’s direction, Fengrui took on sensitive cases, defending dissidents, members of the banned and persecuted Falun Gong spiritual sect and others who challenged the authorities.

The firm was the first target of police raids and detentions in July 2015 that broadened into a nationwide operation targeting more than 300 lawyers, law firm staff and associated rights activists for detention, professional sanctions, house arrest and travel bans—including for family members.


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