The most daring recent action is a document called Charter 08, signed by 300 prominent Chinese citizens in December. It amounts to a manifesto calling for democracy and genuine rule of law to replace China’s often corrupt, one-party system. The petition is snowballing on the Internet — it has more than 7,000 signatures — despite government efforts to censor the issue.
Lan Zhixue and two other lawyers last month also established the Institute of Democratic Society, a non-profit organization whose website proclaims “fair, reasonable and legal; dare to think, speak and act.”
“We don’t care about ourselves, our liberty or death,” Lan says. “We want to do something for the ordinary people. There are more public interest lawyers like us now, though not as many as we would like.”
Another lawyer, Li Fangping, hopes the fear of social unrest will force the government to make changes.
Rejecting court cases about the contaminated blood and tainted formula fuels “growing distrust of the people’s court system,” Li says.