Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pacing the Rule of Law

NYT: Legal Gadfly Bites Hard, and Beijing Slaps Him
BEIJING, Dec. 12 - One November morning, the Beijing Judicial Bureau convened a hearing on its decree that one of China's best-known law firms must shut down for a year because it failed to file a change of address form when it moved offices. read on...


The existence of this article is a telegraph of sorts from the party. This Mr. Gao, a kind of uber-troublemaker who specifically roams the countryside in order to find legal cases that are most antagonistic to party officials -- the ones involving detention of Falun Gong members and deep party corruption -- and then writes and circulates open letters calling communists party members "mostly a bunch of mafia bosses" has lost his license to practice law. The surpising thing is that he is not in prison, like many who tried to jolt the system ahead through legal challenges. He is now under 24-hour surveillance, his apartment courtyard a "plainclothes policeman's club". And yet he was able to do an extensive interview with a foreign journalist, which shows a sort of implicit collusion on the part of those watching him. Gao is sending the world a message about Beijing and at the same time Beijing is trying to send a message about itself : "We need people like Gao but we need them to work at our pace. " Is this message an accurate one or is the Gao case a PR effort to cover deeper intransience? It is undoubtedly both; the fact that Gao is neither imprisoned nor able to continue practicing law is an expression of a lack of consensus within the party on the pace to go forward.

Sphere: Related Content