Yu Jianrong (于建嵘): Maintaining a Baseline of Social Stability (Part 8)

Dr. Yu Jianrong (于建嵘), chairman of the Social Issues Research Center of the Rural Development Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences, delivered a speech entitled “Maintaining a Baseline of Social Stability” before the Beijing Lawyers Association on December 26, 2009. This is part 8 of the CDT translation, here are part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, and part 7:

Not long ago something really interesting happened. In Guangxi, the director of an Office of Letters and Visits [in charge of handling petitions to higher levels of government] himself became a petitioner to a higher level of government. His home had been demolished. Who here with us today is willing to stand up and say that his or her rights have been completely protected? No one. That is because we don’t have these clearly defined rights. That is because someone can think up some way to turn your legally protected rights into rights with no legal protection.
Actually there’s nothing terrible about disputes. All modern societies have lots of disputes. However the [key] to whether a society is or is not harmonious is whether there is an authoritative judicial system. It doesn’t matter if you are in the West or in Taiwan; what do they do if there is a dispute? They will tell you that they will go to court and bring a lawsuit. Do our people say this? They don’t say this. If you were to tell them to go to court and bring a lawsuit, ordinary people would say every time, “How would the judge believe me? (Laughter) There’s no way he would believe me!” (Applause) If you were to ask, “Would a lawyer believe you?” they would said, “Lawyers also wouldn’t believe me.” (Laughter) That is because we haven’t

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