The party and the law

The Chinese Ministry of Justice (司法部) recently issued a notice on the decision to require an oath swearing ceremony for new members of the bar (律师职业) and also for those renewing membership (《关于印发〈关于建立律师宣誓制度的决定〉的通知》). Loyalty to the party-state was of course implied also before, but this time there are explicit references to the Communist party and the state, even before the word ”law” is mentioned. Presumptive lawyers must declare:

I wish to become a professional lawyer of the People’s Republic of China. I promise to faithfully implement the sacred mission to be a legal practitioner under socialism with Chinese characteristics. I will be loyal to the motherland and to the people, uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China, uphold the socialist system and protect the constitution and the dignity of the law. I will practice for the people, be diligent and respect my work, honest and incorruptible and protect the legal rights of the persons involved. I will safeguard that the law is correctly carried out, safeguard social equality and justice, and strive for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics!


Several well-known Chinese lawyers have commented on the absurdity of this new regulation, and both micro bloggers and reader comments on Chinese news sites like Caijing (财经) have been highly critical. The whole idea seems strange. China is not yet a country with rule of law (法治), and even the UN sees a need to voice its concern over lawyers being harassed and arrested. Things will not be better because of this ”pledge of allegiance” to the party and the socialist system, and there are already enough control mechanisms available. It looks like a trend of incorporating doubtful measures and control mechanisms into the legal system, just as with the recent amendments to the criminal procedure law. Actually, such measures only makes it more difficult to follow the new oath, to ”practice for the people” and to be ”incorruptible and protect the legal rights of the persons involved”.

Funderingar kring kinesiska justititedepartementets nya krav att jurister måste svära en ämbetsed där en av huvudpunkterna är lojalitet mot partiet och staten och en av huvuduppgifterna är att ”kämpa för socialismens med kinesiska förtecken sak”.