Some members of the legal profession take for granted that the
license to practice law is a grant of permission to do so by the government. In
countries where the rule of law is paramount, there would be public outrage if one's
political ideology became the litmus test for obtaining a license to practice.
Imagine in a de facto one-party U.S. state, the political party in
power required all attorneys to adhere to the party's platform as a condition
for obtaining or renewing a license to practice law. The independence of the
bar and ultimately of the bench would be drastically compromised. The rule of law under such conditions becomes
subject to subversion by ideology.
Would an attorney be able to represent a client competently when
the client's best interests ran counter to the agenda of the political party
that determined whether the lawyer could continue practicing law?
Now imagine the same scenario in a country where the rule of law
is rarely respected to begin with and human rights are routinely abused under
the guise of national security as a means of party control of the populace.
This is not a hypothetical. China's Justice Ministry is now requiring
all attorneys to swear a loyalty oath to the communist party as a precondition
for obtaining or renewing licensure. Critics contend that the loyalty oath
violates the country's constitution, but there is no impartial judicial body
that would hear a case challenging the new oath requirement.
The driving motive for this loyalty oath appears to be the
embarrassment caused to the Chinese government by brave lawyers who have been
representing human rights activists and other dissidents. By exposing secret
detentions, torture, and other dirty laundry of the Chinese Communist-controlled
"government", these attorneys have apparently crossed the line. In fact, some
of the attorneys have themselves been detained and suffered the same fate as
The Chinese government's ridiculous explanation for the new
loyalty oath requirement is that it is necessary to correct "erroneous
political tendencies." Presumably it is erroneous under the regime to protect
human rights with the legal system instead of using the rule of law to impose
When allegiance must be sworn to a political party and its
ideology, this dishonors the rule of law, the legal profession, and irreparably
damages the attorney-client relationship. This is a far cry from swearing to uphold
constitutional rights and principles, the procedural order of government and
the courts, and the democratic process.
The international legal community should loudly condemn the
Chinese government for such hypocrisy and misconduct. Governments, NGOs, and
the media should expose the injustices perpetuated by this loyalty oath until
those running China lose enough face that they abolish the loyalty oath. The Western corporate world should also
consider how their obvious and burgeoning business ties with the PRC reflect on
their global corporate citizenship and their perceived respect for the very
rule of law that allows them to prosper in their homelands.
issues new regulation requiring lawyers to swear allegiance to Communist Party,
PRI (Mar. 23, 2012)
Requires Lawyers to Pledge Oath to Communist Party,
ABA Journal (Mar. 23, 2012)
Requires Lawyers to Swear Their Loyalty to Communist Party,
Bloomberg (Mar. 22, 2012)
Orders Communist Loyalty Oaths for Lawyers, VOA News
(Mar. 21, 2012)
in China to swear allegiance to Communist Party,
BBC News (Mar. 21. 2012)
I am a Chinese lawyer, I'm not asked to do such a thing. I don't know where the news comes from, but we do need help from the outside world to help China change to a better world. The most important, we need to help ourselves, just as a weatern saying said, God help those who help themselves. If you really care about China and Chinese people, maybe ther better way to give some help is help the Chinese who really need help, and leave the politics alone.Thanks.