Speculation muddies closure of women’s legal aid center

By Shan Renping Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-2 0:33:20

Western media have recently scrutinized the closure of Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Center, accusing the Chinese government of a crackdown on NGOs. US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced support for Guo Jianmei, founder of the center, on her Twitter account on Sunday. It is possible that Clinton was using this women's rights-related affair to promote her campaign for the upcoming Democratic primary.

Before the closure, Zhongze was attached to a law firm where Guo is also a laywer, taking donations from the public and dealing with public interest litigations. Its closure has not impacted the operation of the law firm, and Guo has only made a low-profile response to media inquiries.

Public interest litigation for women's benefits should be encouraged. However, according to some Western media reports, since the foundation of the organization, it has been receiving financial support from a US foundation, and the amount keeps increasing. It seems to be the crux of Zhongze's closure.

The US-backed Radio Free Asia mentioned in one of its reports that Zhongze was involved in some sensitive cases, but it did not specify which ones. Sensitive cases and funds from overseas are enough to establish a perspective to observe the incident. We cannot be sure that these are the only two reasons that caused Zhongze's closure. There might be more factors. Some sources revealed that Zhongze had to be closed because it had been forbidden to accept any more funds from overseas.

Funds from overseas, once channeled into China's public domain, will usually generate some complicated influences. They might advance China's social development, but their political inclinations could disturb Chinese society. It is hard to define funds from overseas, so we should consider relevant affairs case by case.

It is still unknown why Zhongze was closed. So far, we know that the closure did not arouse much opposition, or that anyone related to it has been subject to legal action. Zhongze did not voice any protest. We hope the incident is not as serious as the Western media have depicted. The administration has no intention of standing in the way of the implementation of laws for public interest. The rule of law is what the ruling party and the government are hoping for, and the administration's involvement only aims to consolidate the foundation of the rule of law.

Some radical lawyers have gone to the opposite of the rule of law under the guise of defending human rights. Their actions have caused some negative impacts on both society and the reputation of lawyers. There are a lot of law firms in China that are truly protecting the rights of the underprivileged, and they can manage to fend off misunderstandings. They are the real contributors to the rule of law.

Posted in: Observer

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