China / Society

Lawyer or not, Pu Zhiqiang broke the law

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-23 10:16

BEIJING - Pu Zhiqiang, a former Beijing-based lawyer, was given a suspended three-year prison term on Tuesday for inciting ethnic hatred and disturbing public order. Simply, he was punished for breaking the law.

There have been those, however, who have conveniently overlooked this fact. Amnesty International, for example, cried that Pu was "no criminal" and that the verdict had "shackled one of China's bravest champions of human rights."

A criminal is defined as a person who has committed a crime. This should come as no surprise to the antagonists, after all, this definition is no different in China to any other country in the world. Pu is a criminal who was put on trial and confessed to his crimes in a public court of law.

Notwithstanding that Pu has become something of a cause celebre, the bottom line is that he pleaded guilty.

The backlash that has erupted from this case begs the question: Are the naysayers of the opinion that lawyers should enjoy impunity? Is this case deserving of tone of coverage it has received when, if viewed objectivity, it concerns the sentencing of a person for a criminal act that they have confessed to?

Pu's law career was of no relevance to his case. Regrettably, it seems this case has been hijacked by those who are more intent on stirring up a brouhaha to highlight their own agenda than a clear examination of the facts.

Why not focus on what he has been found guilty of?

On numerous occasions since 2011 Pu posted derogatory comments on Weibo, the microblogging platform, causing psychological distress for victims and disturbing the order in cyberspace.

Despite repeated warnings from the website's administrators, from 2012 to 2014, he continued to post provocative content. Posts on ethnic issues were collectively reposted 2,500 times and received 1,300 comments.

His posts incited prejudice and hostility among Internet users.

The court determined that his posts had incited ethnic hatred, which, according to the Criminal Law, has a maximum prison term of 10 years.

China is by no means the only country to punish acts of ethnic hatred or abusive behavior.

Pu accepted the fairly-lenient sentence of a suspended three-year prison term, and chose to waive his right to appeal.

If this is not justice, what is?

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