Climbing the Weiquan Ladder: A Radicalizing Process for Weiquan Lawyers
(20110 205 The China Quarterly, 40
24 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2009 Last revised: 24 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 11, 2009
It is commonly acknowledged that weiquan lawyers operate in a narrow space, and lawyers with a radical stance work within a harsh environment. Some of them are from time to time detained and prosecuted, and others are subject to routine monitoring and harassment. Yet, despite the high risk, lawyers continue to challenge the political system through law and have become more resilient in defending and demanding legal rights. Weiquan lawyers advance and retreat in response to the changing macro-political-legal environment, but there is no sign that they are giving up their legal struggles. On the contrary, there is a continuous supply of younger and better qualified lawyers who are willing to take up the challenge and have chosen and planned this career path. Moreover, for a steadily growing number of weiquan lawyers, they tend to become more radical in their approach as their experience advances. This paper studies the process in which weiquan lawyers start and sustain weiquan lawyering in a harsh environment and the factors that contribute to the radicalizing process. The principal purpose of this paper is to identify and explain a radicalization process in which a lawyer climbs up the ladder of weiquan lawyering, from a moderate lawyer providing legal aid in individual cases to becoming a critical or radical lawyer where, typically, using the legal system as a pivot, he or she challenges the authoritarian political system.
Keywords: China, lawyers, public interest litigation, weiquan, human rights,Chinese Communist Party, court, justice, legal system, political system
JEL Classification: K00, K4, K41, K45
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation