Xu Zhiyong, et al: “The Chinese Citizens’ Pledge”

The following is a translation of this post from Tiger Temple, but it’s a pledge that’s being spread around the Chinese internet that was written by Xu Zhiyong, Teng Biao, Wang Gongquan, Li Xiongbing, Li Fangping, Xu Youyu, and Zhang Shihe. Those who agree to take the pledge are encouraged to sign it virtually, using this site.

I should note for the record that because I have been busy recently and because I don’t have a VPN, I have no way of knowing if this has already been translated elsewhere. If it has, my apologies to whoever beat me to it. Readers should consider this a rough translation. In any event, it’s a pretty interesting document, if for no other reason than it really draws out how many people it takes for corruption to take off the way it has in China: it is not, as we might often be led to believe, just corrupt officials who are causing trouble.

The Citizens’ Pledge

Whereas democratic politics have already become the consensus of the people, the rule of law has been written into the constitution and forms the bedrock of the nation’s blueprint; and whereas nearly-omnipresent corruption and “special privileges” damage the rule of law; whereas building, supporting, and even defending the rule of law and changing social conduct to create belief in the rule of law requires an overwhelming number of rational citizens of undertake the cause; to those Chinese citizens searching for justice and the rule of law: resolve to mutually abide by the principles of conscience, duty, democracy, the rule of law and the concept of the “modern citizen”; protect the people’s rights and livelihoods, promote good laws and leaders. For the sake of a modern nation by the people, for the people, and of the people; for the sake of justice, love of one’s fellow man, and a happy civil society; for the sake of the future of the Chinese people under civilization and the rule of law, be willing to toil and to pay to build the foundation and the way forward.

The promise is as follows:

  1. My conduct will be rooted in conscientiousness, understanding, respect, and love of my fellow man.
  2. I will respect the laws of the constitution, and fight for the correct implementation of those laws.
  3. I will protect civic justice in a manner that is lawful and humane, and be a manifestation of social righteousness.
  4. In my station at work, I will accord to the following minimum moral standards:
    • As a government employee I will dilligently serve the people. I will not be corrupt and accept bribes, public funds, or take public property like cars for personal use.
    • As a judge, I will be honest and incorruptible, centered in conscientiousness and the law; I will not pervert the law for power or personal gain
    • As a police officer, I will enforce the law fairly, I will eliminate the bad and protect the good, I will not extract confessions through torture, or collaborate with crime syndicates.
    • As a public prosecutor, I will be loyal to the nation’s laws, I will not tolerate corruption, and I will not wrongfully imprison the innocent.
    • As a People’s Congress Representative, I will protect the public interest and have the courage to follow the law while conducting my duties, I will not engage in vote-falsifying or rubber stamping.
    • As a Party member, I will pursue pragmatism, and not lie or speak politely [about the truth]
    • As an internet administrator, I will have the courage to protect freedom of speech, and will not cover up the crimes of the corrupt.
    • As a teacher, I will care for my students, I will not treat any student with bias, and I will not teach lies.
    • As a doctor, I will care for my patients, I will not accept gifts, needlessly prescribe medicine, or be prejudiced against patients.
    • As a lawyer, I will be true to the law and will not bribe judges.
    • As an accountant, I will be true to accounting standards, and not falsify accounts.
    • As an editor or reporter, I will search for the truth, and will not report lies.
    • As a college student, I will study hard, care for society, I will not cheat on tests of plagiarize essays.
    • As a scholar, I will dedicate myself to pursuing the truth, and will not curry favor or plagiarize.
    • As a worker in the literary revolution, I will express the true, the great, and the beautiful, and will reject hidden regulations.
    • As a referee, I will be solitary and impartial, and will not be influenced when making calls.
    • As an athlete, I will compete fairly, and will not gamble or throw games.
    • As a business manager public or private, I will manage things sincerely and honestly, and will not swindle clients.
    • As a real estate developer, I will guarantee the quality of buildings and will not pay off officials.
    • As a factory worker, I will ensure the quality of products and will not cut corners or build things that are fake or of poor quality.
    • As a farmer, I will be dependable, I will not use hormones or anything else harmful to accelerate the ripening of crops.
    • As a food producer, I will hold safety as my highest standard, and will not add any harmful ingredients.
    • ….As a citizen in any post, I will be scrupulous in separating the public from the private, I will not be corrupt, and I will not strive for personal gain.
  5. I will adhere to the principles of constructivism, rationality, and nonviolence when conducting public affairs, I will improve public policies, oversee public power, initiate a culture of citizenship, and strive to push forward the rule of law so that government departments, political parties, and social groups in China are bound by the rule of law.
  6. I am willing to donate or volunteer within a specific timeframe for the purpose of pushing forward the rule of law.
  7. For the purpose of effectively carrying out the Citizen’s Pledge, once a certain number of citizens have made the pledge as communally agreed upon, mutually agreeable regulations will be created and a mechanism for implementing the pledge will be founded. Before the regulations and mechanism are created, the sponsors of this pledge are entrusted with discussing and deciding what work must be done to implement the pledge, including [what must be done with regards to] the legal system, investigating and researching public policy, pushing forward improvements in the system, giving legal support to the defendants in major cases, criticizing corrupt and illegal government departments, Party associations, and social organizations, making recommendations and supervising. Citizens who take the pledge have the right to be aware or and participate in sponsoring the pledge and the associated actions taken to implement it, they also have the right to criticize and make suggestions about the pledge’s implementation, and to receive answers from the pledge’s sponsors.
  8. Citizens must be self-disciplined, supervise each other, and must not violate this pledge.
  9. This pledge is limited to ten years beginning from the date listed by the signatory below. After its expiration, the pledge can be renewed with the approval of a majority of those who pledged.

Pledging Citizen:
State ID:
Contact Telephone:

0 thoughts on “Xu Zhiyong, et al: “The Chinese Citizens’ Pledge””

  1. Thanks for the translation. I admire Xu, he is an idealist, and he is always working hard for his country. However, I don’t see how this pledge has any practical use, other than trying to wake up a bit the social conscience of the Chinese — which is a worthy goal in itself, admittedly.

    Regarding the statement you do about corruption, I completely agree. But not only in China, everywhere. Corruption starts from the little things. A person who has access to 100RMB and steals 50 is no different from a person who has access to 1MRMB and steals 500,000RMB. We tend to look always at the politicians but usually they are just a reflection of society. As some people say (back home): we get the politicians that we deserve.


  2. @ Julen: Agreed. As a political document, I don’t expect it to go anywhere, but it’s interesting to see the recognition that good government springs from “social conscience”, and that being a “good citizen” is another way to combat corruption. I think it was last year when there were a couple instances of people dying while passers-by stood and watched rather than helping them that raised some discussion of the issue of social conscience in China; I see this as an interesting extension of that. At the time, no one connected it to anything larger than “Chinese people are kind of cold to strangers”, and even now you see people all the time who blame everything that goes wrong on corrupt officials, but you’re absolutely right. It goes way beyond that, in China and everywhere else as well.


  3. The problem seems to me to be that it starts with reasonable expectations and then quickly tries to apply itself to everyone and everything, becoming not just a pledge to uphold the law but a “bitch-sheet” of everything one person thinks is wrong with society. “I will not strive for personal gain”…? Mixing that in with “I will not pervert the law for power or personal gain” just seems to confuse the issue at hand here.


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