Rights-Protection Lawyers in China: A Behavioral and Rational Choice Analysis of Lawyers in an Authoritarian State


In the summer of 2015, the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) detained over 200 rights-protection lawyers, a human rights violation that many observers viewed as a retreat from prior commitments to the development of the rule of law. This Note uses two theoretical frameworks—rational choice theory and behavioral law & economics—in an attempt to explain why the CCP, an authoritarian regime, would allow this movement to develop in the first instance and why, after more than a decade, the CCP reversed course.