December 4, 2018
China has stepped up pressure on its embattled legal profession, requiring more than 100,000 lawyers to take a new national oath to “root out instability,” particularly in ethnic minority areas of the country.
Justice minister Fu Zhenghua attended a collective lawyers’ oath-taking ceremony in Hohhot, the regional capital of Inner Mongolia on Sunday, the same day as more than 100,000 lawyers took the same oath in hundreds of Chinese cities, the ministry of justice said in a statement on its website.
The lawyers swore allegiance to the People’s Republic of China, and to “strive to build a socialist country ruled by law,” it said.
The oath ceremonies were aimed at “strengthening lawyers’ ideological and political education,” the ministry said.
But under newly revised rules on oath-taking, lawyers who failed to take the oath could face professional sanctions.
The new rules say that oath-taking is a necessary prerequisite to professional practice, according to Shanghai human rights lawyer Dai Peiqing.
“We weren’t invited,” Dai said of himself and his fellow rights attorneys. “We have been marginalized.”
“I wouldn’t have gone anyway … I have no need to stand up and wave my fist around and parrot these pretty-sounding words,” he said. “I don’t like the swearing with a clenched fist; it’s like violence.”