One of the primary reasons that China cannot be trusted as a business or trade partner, and also one of the primary reasons that it is one of the world’s foremost violators of human rights, is because China does not have a free, fair, and independent legal system. There is no effective rule of law in China; rather, legal decisions are based on what CCP bosses or other influential people want them to be. Judges are entirely beholden to the CCP, and often do not have any legal training whatsoever. On top of that, the Chinese reliance on guan xi （关系) – a term that is hard to translate, but roughly means relationships, connections, and influence – for solving problems and decision making makes the legal system incredibly corrupt. Declarations of guilt or innocence, who is right or wrong in contract negotiations, and so on, depend as much or more on guan xi as they do on what the law actually says or on the facts and evidence at hand.
To be sure, China does have laws, and when non-Chinese read the laws (translated), they often even sound good and right. The problem is that the laws are not fairly or evenly enforced, not just because of the guan xi issue we described above, but also because lawyers are themselves often charged with crimes for advocating for their clients!
Stories like this are all too common in China. Lawyers who advocate for their clients’ rights are often arrested and disappeared – held incommunicado for months or years, with no contact with their families or their own lawyers.
[Lawyer] Yu [Wensheng] was detained in Beijing in January 2018 in front of his young son after he wrote an open letter calling for constitutional reforms, including multi-candidate elections.Hong Kong Free Press article
He was later charged with “inciting subversion of state power”.
Human rights lawyers are especially targeted by the CCP, as was the case here, and charged with nonsense crimes like “inciting subversion of state power” or “subverting public order” – the usual kind of things that fascist dictatorships make up to give legal cover to their oppression and abuse. However, lawyers in other kinds of cases, like contract disputes between Chinese companies and western companies, have also been targeted, if they happen to argue too effectively or vociferously for their foreign client’s rights and interests. Western companies doing business in China should not expect to be treated fairly or in accordance with the law if they happen to get into a dispute with a Chinese company.
This is all part and parcel of the CCP’s oppression of human rights in China. It is why the people of Hong Kong are so vehemently opposed to the (now withdrawn) extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China for “trial.” The CCP simply cannot be trusted – for many reasons, not least of which is that there is no rule of law in China. China’s abominable treatment of lawyers is one more proof of that.