For those brave reformers who have struggled to introduce the semblance of a true judiciary and the rule of law in China, the recent interview of Chief Justice Zhou Qiang must have been devastating. Zhou told lawyers and judges that they needed to avoid the temptation of the West in wanting an independent judiciary that follows the rule of law. With that, Zhou placed himself in history as a voice for injustice — a lawyer who committed his life to fighting against the law.
Zhou called Western concepts of independent courts as a dangerous and “erroneous” concept. He added: “One needs to have a clear-cut stand and dare to show the sword against them, to struggle against any erroneous words and actions that deny the leadership of the Communist Party, or slander the rule of law and the judicial system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The perfect tool of authoritarian power.
Zhou’s comments come with the shocking appearance of human rights lawyer Li Chunfu who have been reportedly tortured for 500 days in a secret prison. Li, 44, was declared a schizophrenic and appeared in court as a broken man.
Zhou and Li are the two faces of Communist China — the oppressor and the oppressed.
For those us who practice law, Li represents the very best of us and the profile courage for anyone who loves liberty. What is incredible is that, despite the violence done against Li, two letters have been circulated with the names of 23 lawyers and 155 leading intellectuals who refuse to be intimidated. They have put themselves at risk of immediate arrest by criticizing Zhou’s comments.