China to appoint first lawyer as chief judge

By Megan Malloy

13 November 2012 at 12:55 BST

China is to name its first lawyer to head the country's Supreme People's Court in a move that throws out the tradition of appointing lay-people to the role.

The 18th CPC National Congress Getty Images

The appointment is part of a recent effort by Beijing to promote lawyers to govern China’s legal system, reports The Australian newspaper.

Legal reforms

The 18th Party Congress convening this week is expected to make several legal reforms, among them the appointment of Zhou Qiang as chief judge. Mr Qiang is currently the party chief in Hunan province, one of China’s most progressive on legal reform, and many lawyers anticipate he will work to move the national legal system towards liberalisation.
The congress will also be re-examining the country’s one-child policy and the current household registration system this week.

Law over party

President Hu Jintao, who chairs the Central Military Commission, is expected to step down as party chief, relinquishing the position to Xi Jinping in the first clean exchange of power within Party leadership in 20 years.
‘Though it is stated in China’s constitution that law has authority beyond any party and organisation, it has not been executed in actual practice,’ said Zhou Dawei, visiting law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘It happens often that no matter how a law regulates an official picks up the phone and all laws are broken...All these things greatly hurt our confidence in the legal system and have greatly damaged the authority of the law in China.’


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