BEIJING -- China's Minister of Justice Zhang Jun has underscored the importance of the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership of lawyers, calling it the "soul of the country's legal system."
Zhang's remarks were made at a recent forum for lawyers and published in Friday's edition of the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the CPC.
Strengthening Party leadership of the work of lawyers is by no means just a slogan, nor a matter of expediency, Zhang said, adding that it fully accords with the national conditions and is an arrangement of the political system concerning the long-term development of the role of lawyers.
Zhang said the 19th CPC National Congress set the direction for reform and development of the role of lawyers. The report adopted at the congress stated that "the Party exercises overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in every part of the country."
The minister asked lawyers to closely study the report and thoroughly understand it.
Zhang said that Party leadership is the most fundamental nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the basic guarantee for socialist rule of law.
In this regard, strengthening Party building among lawyers is "the core part and fundamental measure" in deepening reform of the legal system, the minister said.
If this issue cannot be resolved, it will be inevitable that lawyers are influenced by Western legal systems, he said.
"We must adhere to Party leadership so as to develop the role of lawyers and strengthen self discipline among lawyers," Zhang said.
In August 2017, China had more than 330,000 lawyers and over 26,000 law firms.