Sunday, June 12, 2005
The Carnegie Endowment recently held a seminar in Washington, DC on "Enhancing the Political Role of Lawyers" in China, with the featured speaker being Mr. Gong Xiaobing, the Director-General of the Department of Judicial Assistance and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Justice of China. The full text of his remarks in both English and Chinese, as well as the comments of Dr. Veron Hung of the Carnegie Endowment, can be found here.
Mr. Gong's remarks make interesting reading, because they show the extent to which many reform-minded Chinese look to American practice -- or at least what they view as American practice -- as a model of what lawyers should be doing both professionally and as citizens.
It's also interesting to think about some of the things Mr. Gong identifies as the principal problems of the Chinese legal profession. For example, he is concerned that many law firms are small. But is this really a problem for China, and if so, why?
He also views as problematic the fact that "the degree of education and overall quality of lawyers are often higher than those of judicial administration officials who are in charge of managing lawyers". But is it self-evident that the best and the brightest should be in government, with private practice (and the social and political role he favors for practitioners) reserved for the also-rans?