By Charlie Campbell / Beijing
February 8, 2017

Donald Trump’s attack on the U.S. judiciary is too much for authoritarian China, it seems.

The U.S. president is an “enemy of the rule of law,” according to a top Chinese judge, reacting to Trump’s verbal attacks on an American judge who blocked his controversial travel ban last week.

U.S. District Judge James Robart on Friday suspended a White House executive order banning visitors from seven majority Muslim nations for 90 days. In response, Trump took to Twitter to denounce Robart as a “so-called judge” who was leaving Americans at risk of terrorist attacks.

That prompted He Fan, a member of the apex Supreme People’s Court of China, to denounce Trump as a “bully without dignity” on his own social media account, drawing a link between his criticism of Robart and the slaying of a Chinese judge in his home by a former defendant last month.

“A president criticizing judges and bandits murdering judges are all enemies of the rule of law,” He wrote Sunday in a post on his public WeChat blog, “Colorful Law,” which has around 200,000 subscribers.

He argues that Trump jeopardized the sovereignty of the U.S. legal system by openly criticizing a judge. “No matter how much they hate a court ruling, presidents can only keep it to themselves,” wrote the 39-year-old, who has published a book on the U.S. Supreme Court. “They don’t air their criticisms in public, let alone put a judge in the crosshairs.”

He’s own criticism is not without irony. In autocratic China, “rule of law” is most commonly cited as a tool when authorities want to quash peaceful protests. Chinese courts work hand in hand with the executive authority, boasting a conviction rate of 99.92%.

Last month, a group of top U.S., European and Australian legal experts wrote a letter to U.K. newspaper The Guardian to express “grave concern” over an ongoing crackdown on Chinese lawyers.

Trump has appealed Robart’s “Muslim Ban” block to a higher court in San Francisco with a ruling expected later this week.


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