Protests: A Chinese Growth Industry
A WSJ article (November 10, 2004) reports that, in an attempt to deal with the increasing numbers of Chinese who are swarming government offices to demand their rights, Chinese legislators are considering banning public gatherings outside state buildings. This short-sighted response fails to address the root cause of the protests, which have been increasing in both scale and violence.
Beijing’s plan to solve this problem through law is ironic, given that the increase in the number of petitioners is directly linked to the malfunctions of China’s legal system. After failing to get justice on a local level, petitioners flock to Beijing hoping to receive higher-level attention to their grievances. The new law, which was reported by Kyodo, would not address the larger problem of a judicial system in which courts are subject to the authority of the Communist Party. The rights guaranteed in the Chinese constitution are subject to Party “interpretation,” and local judges can be influenced by the local governments who pay their wages.
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