03/06/19 • 89 min
Over the past 16 years, there has emerged in China a community of self-identified "rights defense" (weiquan) lawyers, akin to "cause lawyers" in the United States, who select cases and frame legal advocacy with a goal of achieving wider societal impact. Once celebrated in official discourse, these lawyers have increasingly come under scrutiny and pressure by the Chinese Party-state, that has intensified despite official promotion of "rule of law" concepts since the CCP Central Committee’s Fourth Plenum in 2014. In this episode, scholar and activist Teng Biao, one of China’s earliest and most famous weiquan lawyers, discusses with Neysun Mahboubi the history and current predicament of "rights defense" lawyering in China, and charts possible future directions for this work. The episode was recorded on April 11, 2018.
Dr. Teng Biao is an academic lawyer and a human rights activist. He was formerly a Lecturer at the China University of Political Science and Law, in Beijing. Since first coming to wide public attention in connection with the Sun Zhigang incident in 2003, he has provided counsel in numerous human rights cases, including those of activists Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia, religious freedom claims, and death penalty appeals. He has also co-founded two groups that have combined research with advocacy in human rights cases, the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng) and China Against the Death Penalty. Most recently, he has visited at Harvard Law School, Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and NYU’s US-Asia Law Institute. He maintains an active blog in Chinese and you can also follow him on Twitter @tengbiao.
Music credit: "Salt" by Poppy Ackroyd, follow her at http://poppyackroyd.com
Special thanks to Nick Marziani, Justin Melnick, and Kaiser Kuo
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