IX. Control Over Lawyers’ Licenses

Lawyers’ licenses must be registered yearly. Unregistered licenses are not valid.
—Article 12 of the Ministry of Justice’s “Methods for the Management of Lawyers Professional Licenses”

The first warning is that someone at the Judicial Bureau will give you a simple phone call to invite you to “have a chat.”
—W.Z., a Shanghai lawyer, September 2007

Lawyers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that the risk of suspension or withdrawal of their professional license was their greatest concern when handling cases likely to trigger official retaliation. This risk, they say, is a powerful deterrent keeping lawyers from taking on such cases.

In effect, Chinese lawyers must fulfill four conditions to practice: (1) hold a personal professional lawyer’s license, (2) each year “register [zhuce]” this license with the local bureau of the Ministry of Justice, (3) be a member of the local lawyers association (which makes them automatically a member of the All-China Lawyers Association), and (4) be employed by a registered law firm.215

Aside from the formal suspension of a lawyer’s own professional license, lawyers can be disqualified and barred from practice through denial of the mandatory annual registration of licenses, loss of membership in the local bar association, or termination of their employment with a registered firm.  

All the lawyers interviewed by Human Rights Watch acknowledged receiving regular “pressure [yali]” from judicial bureau officials, who warn them about unspecified “repercussions” of their work.

A number of human rights lawyers and lawyers with human rights cases against state authorities have been disbarred or otherwise professionally disqualified in recent years. This includes Li Jianqiang, whose annual registration was denied without any written justification; Yang Zaixin, Zhang Jiankang, and Tang Jingling, whose respective employers, under pressure from the local judicial bureaus, did not endorse their application for re-registration; and Gao Zhisheng, Guo Guoting, and Zheng Enchong, whose personal professional licenses were suspended.

For judicial authorities the most expedient way to disqualify a lawyer is to deny his re-registration at the end of the year, because it does not entail the procedures required for formal suspension or withdrawal. Although the year-end procedure is termed “registration [zhuce],” for all intents and purposes it is an annual licensing process in which the judicial authorities are the sole arbiter of whether the registration will be granted or denied.216

One lawyer told Human Rights Watch that the annual re-registration was a sufficient deterrent for many in the legal profession to refrain from engaging in sensitive cases “such as cases that can influence society, cases against government officials, or mass cases”:

The first warning is that someone at the Judicial Bureau will give you a simple phone call to invite you to ‘have a chat.’ There is nothing official in this, but lawyers get the message. It’s a threat.217

To circumvent this ever-present risk, lawyers say they frequently choose to handle cases that carry a risk of official retribution outside of the area where they are officially registered. This effectively minimizes the risk of a retaliatory suspension, as local authorities in a different province or a smaller jurisdiction have little power over judicial bureaus situated elsewhere, in particular in larger cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou.

Still, lawyers say they this “outsider tactic” is of little help if one becomes the subject of attention of the central authorities:  

“Those with good relationships with judicial authorities have nothing to fear, but those who take sensitive cases have to take a calculated risk,” one lawyer from Beijing told Human Rights Watch.218 “Most lawyers just don’t want to take this risk.”

The disqualification of lawyers who handle sensitive cases also sends a message to the rest of the legal profession.

Manipulation of the annual registration requirement

The requirement for lawyers to “register” annually is not stipulated in the Law on Lawyers, but comes from a simple regulation issued in November 1996 by Ministry of Justice, “Methods for the Management of Lawyers Professional Licenses.”219

According to this regulation, a lawyer’s application for renewal must be submitted to the judicial bureaus by the law firm for which he works. The applicant must submit a number of documents describing his work during the year, including proof of attendance at the mandatory training courses by the judicial bureaus, which combine professional training with some political indoctrination,220 and a summary of the work he did over the past year. The local judicial bureau then “issues a vetting opinion [shencha yijian]” before “transmitting it to the higher level” for registration. This process gives great discretion to the judicial bureau to decide whether to grant the re-registration. The standards upon which the “examination opinion” is based are not publicly available.

Some domestic law experts have argued that the system of annual registration is necessary in order to ensure that members of the legal profession continue to attend the annual training needed to keep up in a rapidly evolving legal system. However, there is evidence that the registration is used as a way to exert influence over lawyers and make them dependent on the Party and government authorities.

For many lawyers, particularly in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, this annual re-registration procedure can be a simple formality. But in smaller places, it is a far greater concern. The lines of authority between local power-holders or Party committees and the local bureaucracy are much shorter, making it easier to retaliate against a lawyer by instructing the judicial bureau not to grant the annual registration.

Denial of re-registration

Li Jianqiang, a lawyer from the Shandong Guanhua law firm who had defended a string of human rights and political cases, was denied renewal of his license registration by the Shandong Provincial Judicial Bureau in June 2007.

Li, a graduate of the Chinese Literature Department of People’s University and of the Economics Department of the University of Politics and Law, started his criminal lawyer career in 1994. He has represented writers, journalists, dissidents, and members of underground churches, including the writer Yang Tianshui, the poet Li Hong, the activist and artist Yan Zhengxue, and the dissident Chi Jianwei. His license had already been suspended once by the authorities in November 2003, but was reinstated later. Li also defended Chen Shuqing, a member of the banned China Democratic Party, who was charged with the crime of “subversion of state power.”

In November 2006, Li published a short report on the internet, “The situation of freedom of religion and freedom of expression in China in 2006,” which documented a series of violations, including those at issue in certain cases he had defended, in very candid language:221

As the year 2006 ends, the general situation for freedom of expression and freedom of religion in China has deteriorated. Within a year, there has been a series of arrests and trials of liberal writers, journalists, rights defenders, Christians and religious believers. Important cases included the sentencing in Nanjing of the writer Yang Tianshui, who was sentenced to 12 years, the rights defender Chen Guangcheng, to four years and three months, the Hebei writer Guo Qizhen, to four years, the journalist from Guizhou Li Yuanlong to two years, the Shandong writer Li Jianping to two years, the Hunan journalist Yang Xiaoqing [though he] avoided criminal punishment, the writer Li Zhangqing to three years.

In the second part of the year, there was also the arrest of Gao Zhisheng, Guo Feixiong, Zhou Zhirong, Zhang Jianhong, Cheng Shuqing, Yan Zhengxue, Chi Jianwei, and other rights defense lawyers, liberal writers, and civil rights volunteers. At least 2,000 underground Christians have been detained, among whom a few tens were tried or sentenced to reeducation-through-labor. The general human rights situation in China has deteriorated, and religious rights have also been severely repressed.222

The judicial bureau did not provide an oral or written explanation for the 2007 refusal to re-register Li, but he attributed the sanction to his work on human rights cases:

[The bureau] didn’t even provide a reason; they just didn’t renew the registration of my license for the coming year. I have defended many dissidents; maybe some people are not very happy about it.  I can imagine that at a certain point, the authorities just don’t register you anymore.223

After Li lost the ability to practice, he explained that the Shandong Judicial Bureau’s refusal to provide him with a written explanation for refusing to extend his license made it impossible for him to appeal the decision.

I don’t believe I can appeal to higher level because they did not provide a written justification for the refusal of my application. Mine is not a situation where one receives a penalty according to laws and regulations because of a particular transgression—instead, the judicial bureau doesn’t give you any reason, they just don’t issue you the registration license! There is no process, and this contravenes the rules governing the administration of lawyers.224

Neither the Shandong Lawyers Association nor the All-China Lawyers Association volunteered to take Li’s case to the judicial authorities.

Indirect denial of registration: Pressures on law firms

In addition to directly denying re-registration, in some cases the authorities have exerted pressure on local bar associations not to register a lawyer, or on law firms to dismiss or disassociate from a lawyer, to ensure that the lawyer in question cannot fulfill the conditions for re-registration of his or her license to practice.

Lawyer Zhang Jiankang, who had represented farmers in a high profile land dispute in Nanhai, Guangdong Province, was denied re-registration in March 2007.225  Under pressure from the Shaanxi Judicial Bureau, Zhang’s law firm declined to endorse his membership application to the local lawyers association, effectively depriving him of his lawyer’s license.226 According to Zhang, the Xi’an Judicial Bureau threatened to close the Diyi law firm if it supported Zhang’s membership.

Zhang had been warned earlier by the judicial authorities to stop getting involved in controversial cases. In May 2006, he was denied permission to travel to the United States for a conference. Zhang provided the following account of his exchange with an officer at the Public Security Bureau who had authority over the issuance of passports:

Official: “You can not apply for a passport. The Jiangxi Province State Protection Bureau has a case on you, your acts have violated State security.”

Zhang: “Can you be more concrete?”

Official: “I cannot be more precise. This is not my responsibility to inform you of the circumstances. You can take it up with the Jiangxi State Protection Bureau; if they drop your case, you can get a passport.”227

Officers from the State Protection Bureau warned him that he should abandon all controversial cases such as the land dispute in Nanhai, stop giving interviews to the media and stop writing articles critical of the government posted on overseas websites.228

Despite these warnings Zhang did not cease his activities, and argued in articles posted on overseas websites that the interference from the judicial authorities was illegitimate.229 In October 2006, Zhang wrote:

Not to accept interviews, not to say a word, this is like being a dead person. I don’t care where request for interviews come from, I have the right to be interviewed.230

Zhang also continued his involvement in the Nanhai case. In January 2007, he was informed by his law firm that they would not register him at the local bar. According to Zhang, his firm was sympathetic but felt they could not risk alienating the judicial authorities: “You are within your rights, but we don’t have a choice. If you file a complaint, we will cooperate.”231

Zhang’s law firm subsequently tried to negotiate with the provincial judicial authorities that he be allowed to finish ongoing cases that he had been handling. In April 2006, the firm made a written demand to the Xi’an Judicial Bureau to ask permission for Zhang to travel to neighboring Jiangsu province to defend a criminal case he had started to work on a few months before, in June 2006. The bureau responded by calling the law firm two days later, stating that Zhang was not authorized to handle any case, old or new, and that he was to cease immediately handling cases with which he had been entrusted previously.232 Zhang later decided to travel to Jiangsu nevertheless, but was unable to represent his client.233

In April 2007, seven protesters from the Nanhai land dispute were given sentences ranging from two-and-a-half to four years’ imprisonment on charges of extortion and blackmail. Only one of them was represented by a lawyer at the trial. The verdicts were upheld by the intermediate court in October 2007. 

Politically-motivated disbarment and sanctions against lawyers

The formal suspension of professional licenses is rarer but has nevertheless been used in the case of particularly outspoken lawyers handling contentious human rights cases and political dissidents. Prominent examples include Gao Zhisheng, who was suspended in December 2006, Guo Guoting, who was suspended in March 2005, and Zheng Enchong, who was disbarred in 2001.234 

Aside from the requirement to re-register yearly, the Law on Lawyers sets forth a number of specific irregularities for which the judicial bureau can impose a temporary suspension ranging from three months to one year. Many of the proscribed actions are non-controversial—such as the prohibition against engaging in corrupt practices with court personnel—but the law can also be easily manipulated, given the inclusion of clauses against “inciting and instigating the adoption by plaintiffs of illegal means such as creating public disturbances and harming public order to solve disputes” (Article 39-7), which deters lawyers from representing many protesters, and the exclusion from immunity of “speech that threatens national security” (Article 37) made by lawyers in court.235

The Ministry of Justice’s own regulations, the “Methods regarding the punishment of illegal acts by lawyers and law firms,” expanded greatly on the provisions of  the Law on Lawyers before its revision in October 2007,236 and includes  a number of vaguely defined clauses that could easily be abused for politically-motivated disbarment or suspension. Those include “using media and publicity or other means to carry out untrue or unsuitable publicity” (Article 9-11); “other acts for which a penalty is appropriate” (Article 9-23); and “other illegal acts, that seriously damage the image of the legal profession” (Article 10-3).237

Article 9 of the same regulations allows for law firms to be temporarily suspended for three months to a year if they fail to promptly register “changes regarding the name, charter, responsible persons, partners, address and partnership agreement.” This last clause was used by the Beijing Municipality Judicial Bureau to justify the suspension of Gao Zhisheng’s law firm, the Shengzhi law firm, before his subsequent arrest and sentencing under subversion charges.

Gao Zhisheng

On October 18, 2006, Gao issued an open letter addressed to China’s top leaders, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, denouncing the widespread use of torture against Falun Gong practitioners. 

Six days after, as he was working on a case in the distant province of Xinjiang, Gao received a call from the vice-head of the Beijing Judicial Bureau. The official asked him to withdraw his letter or face unspecified consequences. “If you don’t take it back, I don’t need to say what this implies…,” Gao reported having been told. 

On November 3, upon his return to Beijing, Gao was summoned to the judicial bureau for a “group discussion” during which he was asked to drop all sensitive cases and to stop talking to foreign media. The next day, a judicial bureau investigation team went to the Shenzhi law firm, taking records and interrogating Gao’s personal assistant.

On November 4, the Beijing Judicial Bureau told Gao that his law firm was being suspended for a year “following the results of the investigation.” The two reasons for the temporary suspension, effective 15 days later, were a “failure to register in time the change of address of the law firm” and “violat[ing] the professional ethics of the legal profession.”238

Gao said that the suspension was retaliation for his letter and his refusal to drop the sensitive cases. He also disputed the veracity of both charges, saying that his staff had actually tried repeatedly to register the change of address of the practice, but that the Judicial Bureau would not process the registration, nor acknowledge its refusal to process it.

Gao also disputed the basis of the charge of having violated professional ethics, which stemmed from the fact that a legal document submitted by his firm bore the signature of the lawyer of another practice, Tang Jingling. The document was a petition to visit the rights activist Guo Feixiong, who was at the time in police custody in Guangzhou.239

A few weeks later, the Beijing Judicial Bureau revoked Gao’s personal law license, and he was instructed to turn it over or have it confiscated by force.240 The director of the Lawyers and Notaries department of the Beijing Judicial Bureau confirmed toAssociated Press that Gao’s license had been revoked, but refused to give further details, stating only that the decisions had been made “some time ago.”241

Li Heping, one of the lawyers who had banded together to defend Gao, reviewed the bureau’s notification and said that the cancellation violated the law. Gao stated at the time that he would appeal the decision but he was arrested a few weeks later.

Guo Guoting

Guo Guoting, director of the Tianyi law firm in Shanghai, had practiced maritime law for almost twenty years. A guest professor at the law institute of Wuhan University, he had published numerous books and articles on commercial and maritime law, and was a member of the National Arbitration Committee on Maritime Affairs.

In 2003, he decided to help a former classmate, Zeng Enchong, a former lawyer who was fighting a legal battle on the behalf of forcibly evicted residents in Shanghai. Zeng had been disbarred in 2001 after he leveled accusations of collusion between developers and the Shanghai municipality. Despite his disbarment, he continued to work on behalf of residents, filing multiple lawsuits. He was arrested in June 2003 and charged with a state secrets offense for passing an article from an internal publication of Xinhua news agency to an overseas human rights organization.

Almost immediately after Zeng’s arrest, Guo started to receive warnings from the Shanghai judicial authorities telling him to drop Zeng’s case. “The authorities called me in 18 times to tell me to abandon this case,” he told the New York Times at the time.242 “‘It’s not a legal matter, it’s a political matter,’ they’d say. Finally, a midlevel cadre warned me, ‘If you pursue this case any further, whatever comes of it will be entirely your own responsibility.’”243

Guo refused to yield to these pressures, and continued to defend Zeng and others  arrested for posting articles online. Shi Tao was accused of “illegally providing state secrets abroad” for posting the content of a circular from the Propaganda Department related to the June 4th anniversary of the 1989 Tian’anmen crackdown. He had been arrested in November 2004 and his trial was scheduled for March 2005. Zhang Lin, a dissident writer, had been imprisoned since January 2005 for articles he posted on overseas web sites related to the Falun Gong movement and calling for political reform. Zhang faced state security charges, with a trial due in August 2005. Huang Jinqiu, an internet essayist, had been arrested in September 2003 and sentenced in September 2004 to 12-year imprisonment for subversion and writing “reactionary articles.”244

Guo had mounted vigorous challenges on all three cases, both on procedural and freedom of expression grounds, and faced growing pressure from the Shanghai government to drop these controversial cases. On February 22, 2005, he was barred from a scheduled visit to Zhang Lin. The next day, over a dozen officials from the Shanghai Judicial Bureau raided Guo’s firm. They confiscated his license, having pretended that they needed to copy his license number, and took away his computer. On March 1, the Shanghai Judicial Bureau issued Guo a one-year suspension. Guo stated that it was an “unjustified official punishment” and announced his intention to challenge the suspension at the hearing on March 4.    

To prevent Guo’s supporters from attending the hearing, the Shanghai Judicial Bureau changed the place of the hearing at the last minute to another location. Police then prevented fellow lawyers from entering the hearing chamber by claiming that it was already “full.”

According to Guo’s lawyer, Wei Rujiu, the hearing was perfunctory. The judicial authorities accused Guo of having written articles that “slandered the Communist Party” and “violated the four cardinal principles” of the Constitution.245  Representatives from the Shanghai Judicial Bureau submitted Guo’s information, including Guo’s defense statement, articles he had written, and media interviews he had given.246 “Guo admitted to being the author of the articles, but did not admit that the content was attacking the Party and socialism,” Wei subsequently told overseas media.247

Immediately after the hearing the police put Guo under house arrest. Uniformed and plainclothes police monitored him around the clock, confiscated his mobile phone, wiretapped his home phone and prohibited him from talking to the media.248 Guo was prevented from attending the trial of Shi Tao, for whom he had been the main defense lawyer.

In late May 2005, the Shanghai authorities allowed Guo Guoting to leave to Canada, where he now lives in exile. His clients were all convicted and sentenced. Shi Tao was secretly tried by the Changsha Intermediate Court on May 11 and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment to be followed by a two-year deprivation of political rights for the crime of “illegally providing state secret overseas.” Zhang Lin was sentenced to five years in prison in July 2005 on charges of “harming national security.” Huang Jinqiu was denied appeal and is serving his 12-year term in Pukou Prison, near Nanjing.

Although the law specifies that lawyers subjected to a suspension or withdrawal of license can technically challenge the decision by “applying for administrative reconsideration” or “bringing an administrative lawsuit,” such a challenge does not suspend the sanction and in practice is ineffective given the judicial authorities’ tight control over the courts.

Human Rights Watch is not aware of any instances in which a lawyer has successfully challenged a suspension or withdrawal penalty through the courts.

Statistics about the yearly number of suspensions and disbarments are not readily available. Local judicial bureaus occasionally publish reports that give details about the number of lawyers they have sanctioned over the past year or during one of the recurrent “rectification” campaigns, among which suspensions or withdrawal of licenses are featured, but the data is not comprehensive. Nationwide figures are unavailable or unreliable.249

Some estimate that 100-200 lawyers are suspended every year in China; others believe the figure is higher. Given the widely acknowledged problems of fraud and corruption that plague the legal profession, it is likely that many such sanctions are legitimate, the consequence of actual infractions committed by lawyers or law firms.250

But there is also strong evidence, much of which is detailed above, that the Chinese authorities use suspensions and denial of registration to retaliate against or prevent lawyers from exposing cases that may cause embarrassment to the authorities, such as embezzlement, corruption, abuses of power, and human rights violations committed by state and Party officials. The suspension and disbarment of a number of outspoken lawyers for their defense of victims of human rights abuses deters most lawyers from engaging in such cases. The net result is that it is much more difficult for ordinary Chinese citizens to seek justice through the courts—contrary to the government’s insistence that it upholds the rule of law.

215 The October 2007 revisions to the Law on Lawyers have introduced the possibility of setting up one-person law firms for lawyers who have at least five years of professional experience (Article 16.) Some cities had been experimenting with the system in previous years.

216 Grounds for denial of registration stipulated by the judicial authorities include non-completion of yearly mandatory training, breach of professional standards, ineligibility because of on-going suspension or default of membership to the bar association.

217 Human Rights Watch interview with W.Z., a Shanghai lawyer, September 2007.

218 Human Rights Watch interview with L.J., a lawyer in Beijing, January 2008.

219 “Methods for the management of lawyers’ professional licenses,” Ministry of Justice, Order No 46, November 25, 1996. [律师执业证管理办法, 1996年11月25日司法部令第46号发布.]

220 See for instance: “The Judicial Bureau of Zhengzhou Municipality Convenes a Work Conference on Strengthening Lawyers Ranks,” article posted on the website of the Zhengzhou Lawyers Association, April 19, 2006. [“郑州市司法局召开加强律师队伍建设工作议,” 郑州律师网, 2006-04-19], (accessed May 26, 2006).

221 Li Jianqiang, “Review of the situation of freedom of religion and freedom of expression in China in 2006,” internet publication, dated November 11, 2006 (revised December 8, 2006) [李建强, “2006年中国信仰自由和言论自由状况回顾 作者,” 2006年1月20日 (12月8日修定)] reproduced at (accessed July 7, 2007).

222 Ibid.

223 “Human Rights lawyer Li Jianqiang’s application to extend his license denied,” Radio Free Asia (Mandarin service), July 20, 2007. [“人权律师李建强申请执照延期被拒,” 自由亚洲电台, 2007-07-30], reproduced at (accessed August 7, 2007).

224 Ibid.

225 “Rights Protection Lawyer Zhang Jiankiang Refuses to Drop the Nanhai Extortion Case,” Radio Free Asia (Mandarin Service), December 11, 2006, (accessed May 16, 2007).

226 Under local regulations, law firms are responsible for the registration of lawyers to the local bar association. Lawyers cannot register individually and solo practices are not allowed.  “Lawyer at Risk of Losing License, Facing Punishment for Defending Farmers,” China Rights Defenders (, March 29, 2007, (accessed May 16, 2007).

227 Zhang Jiankang, “Record of the obstacles in the defense of Wang Wenyi,” Letter posted on the overseas internet forum “Democracy Forum” (,  dated May 27, 2006, Xi’an [张鉴康, “为王文怡辩护受阻纪事,” 转自《民主论坛》, 2006年5月27日于西安], reproduced at (accessed May 16, 2007).

228 Ibid.

229 “Lawyer Zhang Jiankang has still not embarked on the journey to represent the Jiangxi case,” China Human Rights Defenders (, April 4, 2007, [“张鉴康律师代理浙江案件仍然没有成行,” 维权网, 2007-4-4], (accessed May 16, 2007).

230 Lin Hui, “Lawyer Zhang Jiankang discuss house arrest and the case of Gao Zhisheng,” The Epoch Times (Chinese Web Edition), October 13, 2006 [林慧, “张鉴康律师谈软禁经过及高智晟案,” 大纪元, 2006-10-13], (accessed May 16, 2007). The Epoch Times, a publication with ties to the banned sect Falun Gong, does not meet minimum standards of editorial independence. However, Zhang Jiankang has since confirmed in various other interviews the facts reported in this particular story.

231 Ibid.

232 “Lawyer in Charge Helps in Wenzhou Case, Will it Be Zhang Jiankang’s Last Case?” The Epoch Times (Chinese Web Edition), April 8, 2007 [ “主办律师温州当助手 张鉴康最后一案?” 大纪元, 2007-4-8], reproduced at (accessed May 16, 2007). See note 230 regarding the authoritativeness of this report.

233 “Lawyer Zhang Jiankang has still not embarked on the journey to represent the Jiangxi case,” China Human Rights Defenders (, April 4, 2007. [“张鉴康律师代理浙江案件仍然没有成行,” 维权网, 2007-4-4], (accessed May 16, 2007).

234 After the loss of his professional license Zheng continued to provide legal advice to forcibly displaced Shanghai residents . He was jailed for three years in 2003 under trumped-up state secrets charges. To this date he is still under house arrest at his home in Shanghai and prevented from traveling or meeting foreign visitors. See “Prisoner Profile: Zheng Enchong,” China Rights Forum, No 4, 2003, pp. 124-129.

235 The reaction of lawyers to the introduction to this new requirement in 2008 is reflected in  “Revisions a Step forward but not Enough: Lawyers Mixed Response to Changes to Protect Legal Practitioners,” South China Morning Post, October 30, 2007.

236 Ministry of Justice, “Methods regarding the punishment of illegal acts by lawyers and law firms,” March 19, 2004. [律师和律师所无所违法行为处罚办法, 2004年3月19日司法部第86号令发布.] In September 2007, in a rare initiative, five lawyers from  Anhui province have launched a lawsuit against the Provincial judicial bureau to challenge their disbarment. “Five lawyers from Anhui sue the provincial judicial bureau for their disbarment,” Xin An Evening News, September 7, 2007 [“安徽5名律师因被吊销执业证起诉省司法厅,” 新安晚报, 2007-09-07], (accessed September 13, 2007).

237 Revisions to the “Methods” are expected to follow the revisions to the Law on Lawyers promulgated in October 2007. There are indications that the requirements listed here will remain in place, as they were initially introduced in the draft revisions to the Law on Lawyers but were not included in the version promulgated in October 2007.

238 Both provisions were taken from the “Methods regarding the punishment of illegal acts by lawyers and law firms.

239 Guo Feixiong was then released, before being arrested again a few months after. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for “illegal business activities” in November 2007.

240 Joseph Kahn, “Legal Gadfly Bites Hard, and Beijing Slaps Him,” The New York Times, December 12, 2005.

241 “Activist lawyer to be stripped of license,” Associated Press, December 14, 2005.

242 Howard W. French, “A Mild Shanghai Lawyer and His Accidental Crusade,” The New York Times, September 18, 2004.

243 Ibid.

244 Shi Tao was ultimately sentenced to 10-year imprisonment in April 2004. He received the Golden Press Freedom award from the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) in March 2007. Zhang Lin was sentenced to five-year prison sentence on 28 July 2005 on charges of “harming national security.”

245 The four cardinal principles laid down in the preamble of the Constitution intimate that China cannot deviate from Marxist ideology, CPC rule, people's dictatorship and the socialist road.

246 “The Shanghai rights defender lawyers Guo Guoting is suspended for one year,” Deutsche Welle (Mandarin Service), March 7, 2005 [“上海维权律师郭国汀被罚停业一年,” 2005-03-07],,2144,1510688,00.html (accessed April 8, 2008).

247 “Hearing Ends as Attorney Guo Keeps Silent,” The Epoch Times, March 14, 2005, (accessed June 7, 2007). (See note 230 regarding the authoritativeness of this news report).

248 ”Chinese Police Place Defense Lawyer Guo Guoting Under House Arrest,” South China Morning Post, March 16, 2005.

249 The Ministry of Justice in its annual report on the “Measures for the development of the legal profession,” stopped providing the overall figure for the numbers of lawyers it has sanctioned after the year 2005 (47 lawyers were disbarred that year). Local reports by Judicial bureaus at the provincial or municipal level seem to indicate temporary suspensions are frequent. For instance, according the Sichuan province judicial bureau, two lawyers lost their licenses and seven were temporarily suspended. In the city of Fuyang (Anhui province) alone, during a 40-day “rectification drive [整顿运动],” ten lawyers and one law firm were temporarily suspended. In Dalian municipality (Heilongjiang province), four lawyers were temporarily suspended in 2006. Sources: Yearbook of Judicial Administration (Beijing: China Law Press) [中国司法行政年鉴 , 北京:法律出版社], various years; “Last year 47 lawyers were disbarred for violating law and discipline,” Xinhua Net, May 31, 2005 [“去年我国有47名违法违纪律师被吊销执业证书,” 新华网, 2005-05-31], (accessed May 17, 2007); The Judicial Bureau passes sanctions against lawyers from Hualei district for 21 types of illegal acts, Xinhua, March 22, 2004 [“司法部为律师行为划雷区 二十一种违法行为将受罚,” 新华网, 2004-03-22.]

250 Publications from the Ministry of Justice stress that offering bribes to judicial personnel is the most common offense behind the sanctioning of lawyers.