Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Monday, November 14, 2005

He Weifang on the petitioning system

Peking University law professor He Weifang (贺卫方) appears in the Nov. 10th issue of Beijing Review discussing (and criticizing) the petitioning system. Here's an interesting excerpt:

One event that got enormous media coverage in 2003 was that Premier Wen Jiabao helped a migrant laborer get back defaulted wages. Despite the positive coverage, the side effect of it was tremendous. Though our premier loves his people, he can only help no more than a handful of migrant workers get their wages back. The side effect was that ordinary people began to believe that as long as they got the chance to meet the premier or the president, they could also have their problems solved. This incident has spurred on more petition efforts. In the process, a reliance or even worship of state leaders has developed at the cost of building and perfecting the legal system. After all, we endeavor to build a country ruled by law, rather than one ruled by a wise leader. The petition system is one with inborn relations to the rule of men. In a society dominated by the rule of men, even a wise monarch can easily evolve into a big tyrant.

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