Rights Law Firm Daoheng Law Firm Has Left The Building

William Farris posted this to the China Law LIS yesterday.

He believes that the closure of Daoheng Law Firm  really wraps it up for efficient rights based law firms in China

Yesterday, Liang Xiaojun tweeted that the Daoheng Law Firm has also been shuttered – https://twitter.com/liangxiaojun/status/1537069973713084416. Here is my translation of @liangxiaojun’s post about the PRC government’s revoking the Daoheng Law Firm’s operating license.

Today, a former colleague sent the decision of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice to cancel the Daoheng Firm.

After my license was suspended, my colleagues tried to keep the law firm going. But whether they tried to add a partner or transform it into a private firm, the Bureau of Justice would not agree. Now with the cancellation, the remaining lawyers can only transfer or set up a new law firm.

We have always known that this small law firm is like a boat in the ocean. Although it carries our life and dreams, it was almost inevitable that it would capsize.

This world will never see another Daoheng Firm, and I will spend my remaining years unanchored and unmoored.
Frankly, I’m surprised it survived this long, since a court document stated that “In 2017 the Beijing Shijingshan District Justice Bureau and the Xicheng District Justice Bureau conducted inspections of many law firms such as the Beijing Mo Shaoping Law Firm and the Daoheng Law Firm.”
Daoheng and @liangxiaojun appear in several places in my casebook “State Prosecutions of Speech in the People’s Republic of China,” available as a free PDF here: www.feichangdao.com. Liang was one of the lawyers defending Chen Wei in 2011. A PRC court imprisoned Chen Wei for 9 years for subversion for publishing statements on the Internet such as “The people have been deprived of their ideology and belief,” and “The entire Communist Party of China utilizes violent mechanisms to control the people.” Daoheng argued this was free speech, but the court dismissed that saying those statements were “rumors” and “defamation” that “severely harmed the interests and security of the State.” The full Chinese and English texts of Chen’s court judgment are available in “State Prosecutions.”

A PRC court also imprisoned a Daoheng lawyer, Yu Wensheng, in 2020 for inciting subversion for “publishing open letters on the Internet through ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ to attack the State regime and the socialist system.” Yu’s court judgment and a translation of his post are available in “State Prosecutions.”

AFAIK that leaves Mo Shaoping as the last man standing. I’m sure there are other firms and lawyers in the PRC who are still quietly trying to stand up for citizens’ civil rights using whatever limited tools remain, but I doubt we’ll ever see again a period like the the early 2000’s when so many lawyers and law firms actually thought they could openly advocate for civil rights and expected courts to treat Article 35 of the PRC Constitution as something that citizens could use to defend their rights.