Lawyers in China have been ordered under a new Justicy Ministry decree to swear allegiance to the ruling Communist Party.
Under the edict, all lawyers applying for new licenses or renewed licenses are required to pledge to "support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and uphold the socialist system."
Critics, including human rights lawyers in China, say the new oath is inappropriate, violates the principle of the rule of law, and is likely to strengthen the ability of authorities to ban uncooperative lawyers.
The Justice Ministry says the new rule it is necessary to raise lawyers' "political, professional, and moral standards."
Many lawyers in China have been harrassed by the authorities, and last year the government suspended or revoked the licenses of several lawyers defending high-profile dissidents.
With AFP and BBC reporting