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800 Mln People Can't Afford Attorneys

About 800 million Chinese people can't afford attorneys, said an elite Chinese lawyer at an ongoing forum.


"The situation will be one of barriers in China's shaping of a harmonious society," said Tong Lihua, director of a sub-committee for the protection of the minor's rights under the All-China Lawyers Association.


China has 800 million residents living in rural areas, 150 million migrant workers in urban areas, and millions of people unemployed.


"Most of them can't afford to service provided by lawyers," said Tong.


"For all its 1.3-billion population, China's annual spending for legal aid purpose rests at less than 0.1 yuan (0.012 US dollar)per capita," he said.


China remains a country at a developing stage, which renders it difficult for the government to allocate much money to that end in the short term, he analyzed.


In Guyuan city of northwest China's Ninxia Hui Autonomous Region, people have to pay about 2,000 yuan (246 US dollars) for a lawsuit case, which equals the total of the local's average yearly income.


There are an estimatedly hundreds of cities and counties across China suffering similar problems.


Given the current situation, Chinese lawyers should get themselves more dedicated in helping the weak and the poor by offering cheap and even free services, he said.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2005)

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