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Censorship in China

Chinese lawyers group investigates member for questioning Communist Party policy

Shenzhen based copyright lawyer Li Guobin ‘made inappropriate comments about the party’s major policies’ on social media

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 2:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 2:44am

A Shenzhen-based lawyer has been investigated by the city’s lawyers association for “making inappropriate comments” about the Communist Party’s major policies.

According to a Shenzhen Lawyers Association document posted online, Li Guobin, a copyright lawyer and partner at the Shenzhen-based Rongguan Law Firm, was under investigation for comments he made on his Sina Weibo microblog. Li confirmed on Thursday that an investigation was under way.

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Li has been outspoken on Weibo, questioning the official response to floods in Hebei and making sarcastic remarks about Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It was unclear which comments triggered the investigation.

“We received complaints that Li Guobin made inappropriate comments about the party’s major policies,” the notice said.

“The case was transferred from Shenzhen’s judiciary to our association.”

Under discipline rules amended in October, party members can be expelled for inappropriate comments about the party’s key policies, for vilifying party leaders or for distorting party history.

Ordinary people can make inappropriate comments, it’s just party members who can’t
Yang Xuelin, rights lawyer

The rule applies only to party members and Li declined to say if he was a member.

Veteran rights lawyer Yang Xuelin said the rule on inappropriate comments was a party ­matter. “Ordinary people can make inappropriate comments, it’s just party members who can’t,” Yang said.

“The association should be responsible only for matters related to the professional behaviour of lawyers. If he is a party member and made inappropriate comments, the matter should be investigated by the party branch he belongs to.”

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Lawyers associations on the mainland are closely affiliated with the government.

Such associations have generally remained silent on official crackdowns on rights lawyers, including the jailing, detention and interrogation of about 300 rights advocates and activists across the country last July.