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The Party's turn to public repression: an analysis of the ‘709’ crackdown on human rights lawyers in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-48
Number of pages48
JournalChina Law Society and Review
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2018
Accepted/In press31 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print17 Aug 2018
PublishedAug 2018


King's Authors


The intensified and more public repression of civil society in China is part of a global shift toward deepened and technologically smarter dictatorship. This article uses the example of the ‘709’ government campaign against Chinese human rights lawyers to discuss this shift. It argues that the Party-State adopted more public and sophisticated forms of repression in reaction to smarter forms and techniques of human rights advocacy. In contrast to liberal legal advocacy, however, the Party-State’s authoritarian (or neo-totalitarian) propaganda is not bounded by rational argument. It can more fully exploit the potential of the political emotions it creates. Along with other forms of public repression, the crackdown indicates a rise of anti-liberal and anti-rationalist conceptions of law and governance and a return to the romanticisation of power.

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