The China Quarterly


Climbing the Weiquan Ladder: A Radicalizing Process for Rights-Protection Lawyers

Fu Hualinga1 and Richard Cullena2

a1 The University of Hong Kong. Email: (corresponding author).

a2 The University of Hong Kong.


It is commonly acknowledged that weiquan lawyers operate in a narrow space, and lawyers with a radical stance work within a harsh environment. Weiquan lawyers advance and retreat in response to the changing macro-political-legal environment, but there is no sign that they are giving up their legal struggles. A steadily growing number of weiquan lawyers are tending to become more radical in their approach as their experience advances. This article studies the process in which weiquan lawyers start and sustain weiquan lawyering in a harsh environment and the factors that contribute to the radicalizing process. Its principal purpose is to identify and explain a radicalization process in which a lawyer climbs up the ladder of weiquan lawyering, from a moderate lawyer providing legal aid in individual cases to a critical or radical lawyer.

(Online publication April 01 2011)

Fu Hualing is currently a professor of law in the faculty of law of the University of Hong Kong. His research interest includes public law, human rights and legal institutions in China. He has published widely in media law, criminal justice and dispute resolution with a focus on China.

Richard Cullen joined the faculty of law, University of Hong Kong as a visiting professor in August, 2006. He was previously a professor at Monash University. He has spent over 15 years based in Hong Kong teaching and writing on Hong Kong and China. He has written and co-written (regularly with Fu Hualing) several books and many articles, notes and comments focused on Public Law, Media Law and Tax Law.