The Rights Defence Movement, Rights Defence Lawyers and Prospects for Constitutional Democracy in China

Chongyi Feng


Contrary to the view that democratic aspiration has been utterly marginalised in China since the 1990s, the discourse of democracy continues to flourish via the Internet and other means of communication, and a budding “rights defence movement” (weiquan yundong) has emerged as a new focus of the Chinese democracy movement in China. The emergence of this rights defence movement foreshadows a new, more optimistic political scenario in which smooth transition to a stable constitutional democracy through constructive interactions between state and society may occur. This paper explores the social and political context behind the rise of the rights defence movement in China, assesses the role played by rights defence lawyers (weiquan lushi) in shaping the rights defence movement and speculates on the implications of the rights defence movement for China’s transition to constitutional democracy

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