US sings old tune over radical lawyers

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-14 0:43:01

The US State Department Sunday made a high-profile intervention over China's recent detention of "rights protection" lawyers who are suspected of committing crimes. It accused China of having "systematically detained individuals who share the common attribute of peacefully defending the rights of others." The US tone is consistent with its past rebukes of China over human rights issues.

There is also a difference. When China was weak, US accusations were like a stick, but this has now changed. The latest US statement will have no real effects except making Chinese people feel slightly uncomfortable.

The detentions are China's internal affairs. Specifically, taking away lawyers from Beijing Fengrui Law Firm should serve to increase understanding among Chinese lawyers and promote China's rule of law as much as possible. This carries more significance than mulling about a response to a US rebuke.

Apparently some lawyers have doubts about the recent detentions. This may partly stem from sympathy for their peers and meanwhile over long-standing disputes on the boundaries of democracy and the rule of law. Western values have infiltrated intensely in this respect and damaged some important basic consensuses.

The radical lawyers' violations of law have to be confirmed by a court hearing. The verdict, if justifying police actions, needs to be disseminated effectively to reach those doubting lawyers. During this process, openness and transparency are critical as the movement is more than cracking down on a "major criminal gang." It will help set boundaries for radical lawyers and the public to differentiate rights protection and illegal behavior. The US State Department said the detained lawyers were "those who lawfully challenge official policies," a proposition that Western forces and Chinese radical lawyers as well as their backers coincide with. This has to be destroyed through open and fair trials of those detained.

The majority will accept the message conveyed by court hearings because this is an important opportunity for China to expand consensus on the rule of law via specific cases.

Besides the US State Department, opposing voices also came from radical groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Those voices are rather repellent to the Chinese mainland public. Actually, many in the mainland hold the view that if people receive support from external forces, it means they are not really decent. But how the government proceeds with the case must strictly follow legal procedures and not be subject to external disruption.

The crackdown of the criminal gang involving several rights lawyers is a step toward realizing China's social stability, through which Chinese should acquire more confidence in the ideological contention between China and the West. It is more than a struggle for peace, but rather a struggle for hearts and minds.

Posted in: Editorial

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