Lawyers play bigger role in China's parliament
Updated: 2008-03-14 20:04
BEIJING -- The number of lawyers participating in China's current term of parliament and top political advisory body reached 22, an increase of 80 percent over the previous term, said Yu Ning, chairman of the All China Lawyers Association (ACLA).
"The increase is in line with the development of modern society and a result of China's progress in building a society ruled by law," Yu said.
National legislators and advisors include deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
According to the ACLA, more than 800 lawyers now serve as deputies to people's congresses at various levels across the country.
Yu said lawyers have extensive contact with all sectors of society and learn about the public interests and appeals. They are able to express views on behalf of the masses based on their professional knowledge.
Han Deyun, a lawyer with the Chongqing-based Suotong Lawyer Office, has just begun his second five-year term as an NPC deputy, or national legislator. He said that as China's objective of governing by law becomes more clear-cut, there will be more scope for lawyers to better perform their duties as lawmakers and political advisors.
Han said when he performs his duty as a legislator, he not only pays attention to the interests of lawyers but also helps express the appeals of low-income citizens.
Han once taught law at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law. In 1995, he left teaching and became a lawyer. Currently, he provides legal consultation to governmental departments and companies.
Liu Ling works for a legal office in east China's Jiangsu Province and is a new NPC deputy. She is engaged in the litigation of about 50 cases a year concerning real estate disputes, corporate law, and officials' crimes. She also provides legal consultation in business areas.
"Lawyers learn much about social contradictions and can identify societal problems. My experience in practicing law can help me better perform duties as an NPC deputy," Liu said.
Chen Shu, secretary-general of the Guangzhou Bar Association in southern Guangdong Province, has been re-elected an NPC deputy.
She once proposed to the top legislature the establishment of a taskforce to examine the regulations putting vagrants and beggars into custody, after a 2003 incident in which Sun Zhigang, a 27-year-old designer who traveled to Guangzhou to seek work, was beaten to death after he was detained for failing to provide a residence permit or identification card.
The State Council, China's Cabinet, later lifted these regulations.
Yu said lawyers' broad participation in political affairs should be attributed to China's progress in the rule of law.
China's legal profession was re-established in 1979. The first lawyer NPC deputy was elected 20 years ago. At that time, lawyers were civil servants. With judicial reforms, lawyers have gradually stepped out of the government.
Currently, China has around 140,000 lawyers. They are regarded as an important component of China's "new social stratum".