China's top judge attracts criticism with remarks

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China's top judge has drawn criticism from legal professionals after he dismissed the concept of judicial independence as an "erroneous Western ideal."

Zhou Qiang, the head of the Supreme People's Court, was previously seen as a reformer keen on limiting the influence of government officials on local courts.

However, Chinese state media quoted him over the weekend as instructing leading judges to "bare your sword" against words and actions running counter to the ruling Communist Party's dictates.

Chinese legal scholars including Peking University professor He Weifang criticized Zhou in response, saying that the public will lose confidence in a legal system seen to be in thrall to the party, potentially sparking rebellion.

China rejects the notion of an America-style separation of powers and places the party above the constitution.