in Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig (eds), Handbook on Human Rights in China (Elgar 2019) 472-492
Abstract: Since its restoration, the legal profession has played an indispensable role in China’s human rights protection. Together with journalists and NGO leaders, lawyers serve as the guardian of human rights in China, and this trinity of forces intimates a strong possibility for the development of human rights in authoritarian regimes. The purpose of this chapter is to identify three distinct types of legal advocacy for human rights in China, explore their internal dynamics, and examine their respective contributions to enhancing human rights protection and the corresponding limits. Theoretically this chapter also aims to explore a possible evolutionary trajectory of human rights lawyering in the authoritarian context which posits three stages, namely the provision of legal aid services for the poor; which is followed by public interest legal advocacy to facilitate structural changes; and finally political lawyering to catalyze potential systemic reforms.