China: Communist Party Steps Up Annual Inquisition of Lawyers

May 3, 2018

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Every year, justice bureaus and lawyers’ associations across China demand that lawyers and law firms submit to a “annual review” (年检), held in spring each year, that determines whether they can continue to practice law in China.

Ostensibly, these assessments are aimed at evaluating professional competence and merit — yet their primary function, as far as the authorities are concerned, appears to be aimed at keeping a tight leash on the lawyer class, designated by the authorities as the “opposition.” For more than a decade, it has been used as a tool of pressure to keep human rights lawyers at bay.

China Change recently obtained a copy of the 2018 annual assessment form provided to lawyers in Beijing that demonstrates a codification of this political control. The form requires the following:

  • On personal information, it demands: Name, law firm, whether full- or part-time, marital status, ‘political status’ (i.e. whether a Party or Youth League member or hopeful member, or merely one of ‘the masses’), lawyer ID, cell phone, citizen ID, passport number, social media accounts, professional speciality, income during the previous year, current address.
  • The section below, on ‘integrity,’ inquires:

Communist Party Steps Up Annual Inquisition of Lawyers

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