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UNDP official speaks on rule of law in China

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Photo credit: 
Christian Ollano

Qing Gu, team leader for the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Poverty, Equity, and Governance unit in Beijing, China, spoke at CDDRL's Program on Human Rights on November 19, commenting on recent developments on rule of law in China. 

Gu is cautiously optimistic about the slow consolidation of the rule of law in China. Many positive programs have been put into place regarding law development in China, and Gu discussed the political implications that are behind these changes. While it is still a long way from being fully implemented, there has been a renewed focus on the rule of law under Xi Jinping’s leadership. Jinping has even equated the “Chinese Dream” with the “Dream of Constitutionalism.”

However, this has not been without controversy. A similar statement published in the South China Weekend in 2013 led to the newspaper’s recall by the government. Gu argues that this demonstrates that the Party is not yet ready to accept the rule of law.

China’s Fourth Plenum, a key governmental meeting that took place in October 2014, laid out what Gu called “a blueprint” for constitutional reform, rule of law and anti-corruption mechanisms for the judicial system and overall Party leadership. Gu’s hope is that this blueprint will be realized in the near future.

The talk concluded with a series of questions from the audience, ranging from philosophical questions regarding rule of law in China, to pragmatic questions concerning the “Western” media’s role in shaping U.S.-China relations and the impact of the rule of law on legal practitioners in China. In response, Gu pointed out that instituting the rule of law in the country requires deep restructuring of the system's foundations. However, she considers Confucianism to offer a compatible construction of the rule of law that will propel China’s moves to end corruption while still holding on to its rich cultural traditions that embody Chinese identity.