Chinese lawyers warn Communist Party will target legal teams Chinese lawyers setting up mutual defence pacts as Communist Party targets dissidents' representatives Liu Chunxia, a supporter of Xu Zhiyong, is detained by policemen outside the court where the trial is being held As the Communist party wages its most intense campaign against free speech in years, there are fears it will now attack the lawyers who dare to defend dissidents. Lawyers across China who specialise either in human rights cases or in unpicking judicial abuses said they now fear being disbarred or even criminally prosecuted. "There is definitely something going on. Lots of lawyers have made pacts so that if they get into trouble, someone else will represent them. I have made agreements with 20 lawyers in case of an emergency," said Chi Susheng, a lawyer from Northern China who regularly takes on controversial cases. Several lawyers said the Communist party has lost patience with having its will challenged in court. Over the past week, lawyers helped to thwart the trials of seven activists belonging to the New Citizens' Movement by advising their clients to fire them in court and trigger a retrial. On Monday, a judge in Beijing threatened to report one lawyers, Chen Jiangang, to the Judicial Bureau after his client used the tactic. "This type of behaviour, which hinders the government, will be cracked down on," said Chen Guangwu, a lawyer who is defending the prominent southern activist Guo Feixiong. Mr Chen said contacts inside the legal system had warned him to tread carefully during the first half of this year. In recent years, the number of lawyers willing to take on human rights cases has swelled dramatically. "Since last September roughly 200 lawyers have joined a group identifying themselves as human rights lawyers," said Tang Jitian, a lawyer who was himself disbarred in 2010 after walking out of a court in protest. "Lots of us have been questioned by the Justice bureau and by law associations. One lawyer in Xinjiang, Gan Weidong, was questioned by the police and has had to leave the group and stop practising." This emerging group of lawyers has also begun to coordinate and press for reform, much to the consternation of the Party. Last October, an open letter to the Justice ministry calling for the reinstatement of 38 disbarred lawyers was signed by hundreds of lawyers. However, those who signed were quickly warned to stop organising themselves into a movement. "After I signed I got calls from the police and from the Justice ministry warning me not to hype the letter or draw attention to it. Other lawyers were also warned. But I signed because I had been personally harassed because of the cases I took on and I felt lawyers should stand up for themselves," said Xie Yanyi. "This kind of organised letter will definitely attract the attention of the government," said another lawyer, Zhang Keke. "I got a lot of calls from the police and Justice officials who told me not to sign anything like this again. But what we are doing is legal and rational." Regional Justice bureaus often put pressure on law firms to suspend or dismiss any lawyers who take on sensitive cases. Without formal employment, lawyers can then be denied a license to practice. "This is the usual way in which they intimidate us," said Wang Quanping, a lawyer in Guangdong who has recently been suspended. "So many other lawyers are in the same position as me". Human rights lawyers have become a vital pillar of support for Chinese activists, and are also now coordinating over the internet to offer each other solidarity. "These human rights lawyers are increasingly willing to identify themselves as such and are pretty important in what is emerging as a political opposition," said Eva Pils, an associate professor of the law faculty of the Chinese university of Hong Kong. "I have not quite seen this before, in the sense of a criminal prosecution against a whole group of them presumably on the grounds of being in support of a movement. "One human rights lawyer told me he had a kind of premonition that they are going to clamp down in the first half of this year," she added. "But it will not be a decision made lightly, it will be a decision made at a high level because it has a large cost." In the past, lawyers who have tried the same tactics seen during the trials of New Citizens' Movement members - either remaining silent or withdrawing from representing their clients - have been punished by the Justice Bureau for not behaving professionally. However, Wang Xing, a lawyer defending another New Citizens' Movement member said the authorities should "reflect on why the defendants are taking such extreme measures" rather than on the behaviour of the lawyers involved. In the one New Citizens' Movement trial that did proceed on Monday, police confiscated the mobile phones of the lawyers involved so that they could not be contacted. Chinese lawyers warn Communist Party will target legal teams - Telegraph ******************************************** That nothing is beyond the monitoring, doctoring, intimidation and arrest of the Chinese Communist Govt is not a new phenomenon. The so called opening up of the Chinese Society is another sham and doublespeak of which China is a past master is once again becoming evident. The muzzling further of a controlled society that dispense justice arbitrarily is not really extraordinary. What a suffocating atmosphere that prevails in China, that only those in the Free World can understand.