The government on Wednesday ordered lawyers to pledge their loyalty to the Communist Party of China and the country when they take their attorney’s oath before beginning or renewing their careers.
It is the first time that lawyers in China have been directed to take an oath of loyalty to the Party. It is rare for lawyers to swear loyalty to the government or a party. In India, for example, new lawyers pledge their loyalty to the code of ethics.
The mixing of political ideology with a lawyer’s responsibilities towards his client might not be the best recipe for the legal system. Critics also fear that this could also spell trouble for lawyers who take up sensitive, especially politically sensitive, cases.
The directive also comes months before the change of leadership in the CPC and for the wary party this could be an attempt to stall any opposition.
“I promise to faithfully fulfil the sacred mission of socialism with Chinese characteristics ... loyalty to the motherland, its people, and uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China,” Reuters news agency quoted from the notice in Chinese as having ordered lawyers to say under oath.
The notice said that the oath was necessary to “firmly establish among the vast circle of lawyers faith in socialism with Chinese characteristics ... and effectively improve the quality of lawyers’ political ideology.”