Home GRASP GRASP/China China's top judge calls judicial independence an 'erroneous Western ideal'

China's top judge calls judicial independence an 'erroneous Western ideal'

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NewsHubBEIJING – China’s top judge has drawn criticism from legal professionals after he dismissed the concept of judicial independence as an “erroneous Western ideal,” a statement seemingly aimed at emphasizing the ruling Communist Party’s ultimate control over all areas of public life.
Zhou Qiang, the head of the Supreme People’s Court, has at times been seen as a reformer keen on limiting the influence of government officials on the courts.
However, Chinese state media quoted him over the weekend as instructing leading judges to “draw your sword” against words and actions running counter to the ruling Communist Party’s dictates.
Since seizing power in 1949, the party has maintained strict control over the government, judiciary and China’s highly influential military despite the rapid social change accompanying breakneck economic growth. Leaders in recent years have firmly rejected calls for political reform, crushing the 1989 prodemocracy movement and harassing and imprisoning advocates of change, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Responding to Zhou’s comments, Chinese legal scholars including Peking University professor He Weifang said the public would lose confidence in a legal system seen to be in thrall to the party.
“If there is no judicial independence, the ultimate result can only be injustice everywhere, sparking unrest. Calling judicial independence a Western concept and taking joy in its elimination is the sort of talk and action that leads to disaster for the nation and its people,” He wrote.
Scores of lawyers also signed an open online letter calling for Zhou’s resignation.

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