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Highlights from “Rights Litigation, Law and Political Reform in China”

October 01, 2013

By Jillian Gutstein C’16

Last week, Penn Law hosted a panel discussion on “Rights Litigation, Law and Political Reform in China” in Fitts Auditorium. The event was divided into two parts: the first part consisted of a panel in which the speakers discussed what the state of the rule of law in China was, and the second part consisted of a panel in which the speakers discussed rights protection, activist lawyering, accountability, and reform.

Speakers on the first panel included Li Zhuang, a prominent lawyer in Beijing; Lu Junning, a Chinese political scientist; Zhu Ruifeng, a Chinese online journalist; Zhang Kai, a Chinese human rights lawyer; and Zhang Jingjing, a Chinese public interest lawyer. Lana Xu, a graduate student at Penn and Chinese citizen, referred to the people on this panel as “the heroes of China,” known for representing famous human rights cases.

The second panel featured experts on China, activism, and human rights. It included people such as Ira Belkin, a law professor at NYU, Jerome Cohen, another law professor at NYU, and Goubin Yang, a professor at Penn. Topics of discussion included labor law, constitutional law, criminal defense, and rights lawyering.

The main focus of the panelists’ discussions were how the legal picture in China is extremely complicated and, while there are some successes, there are major failures in regards to rights lawyering and rights protection.

The talk was open to the public, with some of the audience members traveling from as far as Harvard to listen to the speakers. Audience members were provided headsets that translated Chinese to English or English to Chinese since both languages were spoken during this talk.