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March 12, 2010

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US-trained lawyer promotes the law

DUAN Qihua, a member of CPPCC and managing partner of Duan & Duan Law Firm

China Zhi Gong Dang (ZGD)

It was founded in San Francisco on October 10, 1925. ZGD aims to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics. The main founders include Situ Meitang and Chen Qiyou.

Shanghai branch had 2,600 members by the end of 2009. The chairperson is Wu Youying.

We are living an era of reform and opening up and we should act accordingly. I have proven my love of the motherland through my actions. As a lawyer, I will use the law to defend justice and the national interests. As a member of a democratic party, which I joined in 2004, I will use political power to promote people's well-being.

I went through the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and knew exactly how social order can affect economic development and improve people's lives.

Social order usually depends on a country's legal system.

After graduating from the East China University of Political Science and Law in 1983, I went to the United States to study at my own expense, receiving a law degree from the University of Washington. I was then hired by the prestigious Seattle law firm Williams, Kastner & Gibbs. Later I became the first foreign legal adviser appointed by the Washington Supreme Court.

I had a prosperous and secure life, and it seemed I should be satisfied. However, I missed my hometown and motherland, so I had no choice but to return and start a law firm in China.

Before I returned, an old friend said to me, "I am worried about your going back to China. The legal system isn't robust enough."

I replied, "For that very reason, we should go back to perfect China's legal system."

In 1993 I established Duan & Duan Law Firm with several partners in Shanghai. It was the first private law firm handling cases involving overseas parties since the People's Republic of China was founded. Then President Bill Clinton wrote me a letter of congratulation.

We went through difficulties at the beginning but through working hard together, the business gained momentum.

We offer legal service to dozens of Fortune 500 corporations and Chinese enterprises for their business at home and abroad.

Soon after we opened, we won the bid to handle a US Labor Department case concerning compensation of US$12 million to 3,000 Chinese laborers on Saipan in the Marianas Islands. The Labor Department sued a company for forcing people to work overtime without compensation. It was the first time a US government agency used a Chinese mainland law firm. It was the largest sum of compensation ever awarded to Chinese laborers.

Our job was to return the money to laborers, most of whom had returned to China and settled in numerous isolated spots in Guangdong, Fujian and Hainan provinces. The US Labor Department was surprised the case was handled so swiftly and efficiently.

In the past Chinese companies often chose to compromise when confronted by legal issues involving big foreign companies - they couldn't find Chinese lawyers.

Duan & Duan once won a case that had be on trial for eight years, involving a US company suing a Chinese toy company for damages in a US court. The case was written into a law textbook.

Since have handled around 100 cases involving foreign parties, many drawing global and national attention.

I joined ZGD in 2004, promoting a practical social credit system and creating a fair, open and just environment for the development of a socialist market economy.

The ZGD work enriched my life and participating in the Municipal CPPCC broadened my vision.


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