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What's 'public' in China?

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Reporters on the Job: The fate of Yitong law firm, one of China’s leading defenders of human rights, will be decided at a court hearing next week. (Read the Monitor's story here.) The event is supposed to be open to the public.

But that does not mean that just anyone can turn up. Everyone but the principals involved needs permission to get in. I have applied for a permit to attend the hearing but I do not hold out any great hopes.

An official at the Judicial Department (where the hearing will be held) said she would help me get a permit. But she also refused to make any comment on the case. This does not suggest that she is very well disposed toward foreign reporters.

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