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Locke On Rule Of Law


U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke (file)

In America’s criminal justice system, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“I’ve often been asked what has made America such a successful, innovative, dynamic and stable society that has attracted, and continues to attract, people from all around the world,” U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said recently to participants in a moot court, an educational event for law students, hosted by Renmin University in Beijing.


"The answer was first given to me by Chinese scholars and business people, and they answered [that] the defining characteristic of the United States of America is the strong rule of law.”

In America’s criminal justice system, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“This is a bedrock principle of not just our legal system, but indeed our political system as a whole -- that everyone has a fair and equal chance,” Ambassador Locke said. “Having a fair and transparent legal infrastructure is a key part of building a rules-based society. But it’s not sufficient. Even more critical is how the government responds . . . when those laws are being challenged. People need to know that the rules will be applied equally to all citizens, regardless of who you are or how much power you have. The rule of law does not necessarily ensure a favorable outcome for any particular individual, but the rule of law must guarantee equal treatment under the law.”

“In The Analects, Confucius . . . said, ‘When a prince’s personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without issuing any orders. If his personal conduct is not correct he may issue orders but they will not be followed.’” Ambassador Locke said. “What Confucius is . . . saying is that an effective government is one where its officials abide by the laws of that society, which in essence, is the rule of law.”

“I share your passion and commitment to the rule of law as well as your support for this prestigious competition that brings law students from all across China,” Ambassador Locke said. “ As future lawyers, you have a special role and responsibility in advancing and elevating the rule of law in China. China has a great future ahead of it, but it depends on an active, neutral, respected judiciary, rule of law, and lawyers.”
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