Chinese lawyer under bar investigation for bragging on social media
Screen shot of Zhang Qing's Weibo post    Photos:
A women solicitor in south China has recently been exposed to public ridicule after screenshots of her social media posts showing off wealth and offbeat view of marriage were spread by a popular microblogger and then went viral in cyberspace. While pompous remarks made by the young professional stirred anger, those who sympathize with her argue everyone should have freedom of speech. Amid the controversy, the local bar association is reported to have put the lawyer under “false advertising” investigation.

Last Tuesday, @yaba—a popular microblogger, known as “Big V”—on Weibo, China's microblogging platform, derided a lawyer whose name is Zhang Qing for her WeChat post about going for a US Visa interview. Zhang gave details like she was wearing Burberry's suit, Chanel's high heels for the occasion, and would occasionally check out time displayed by her Cartier watch. Worrying bag-keeping woman may covet her bag bought in Paris for 50,000 yuan, Zhang had a colleague's kid come all the way from a neighboring city to keep an eye on it.

When asked by visa officer about her career and educational background, the bragging young lawyer emphasized in both Chinese and English languages, “(I'm) a partner of the biggest law firm in Asia and a graduate of the most prestigious university in China.” @yaba ridiculed it makes no sense to show off all the luxury brands for merely a visa interview and followed the blog with a strain of other screenshots of Zhang's posts publicized in her own WeChat friends' circle. It's not known who among Zhang's WeChat friends first leaked the contents.

The incident triggered heated debate on China's social media and made to national headlines within hours. It's reported by Chinese media the young girl used social media mainly to show off her personal qualification and all the luxury brand items she recently bought and used. Meanwhile, her view of marriage that deviates from the mainstream value also invited criticism.

Zhang advocated it's wiser to find a boyfriend who's younger than yourself instead of some successful middle-aged man, arguing there is always a chance for a younger boyfriend to grow to be someone like Emmanuel Macron, the now French president. Meanwhile, she proclaimed she would not want to marry someone hailing from small cities and wants her future husband and parents-in-law to be graduates from renowned universities.

Zhang's contempt toward common people and “upper-class” arrogance also infuriated many netizens. She mocked it's impossible for the repairer who helped her install air-conditioner to afford her counselling fee, ridiculed a photographer who chatted with her online to be “civilian and so plagued by limited capacities”, and laughed at a newly-wed couple’s dowdy outfits. Media scrutiny revealed that the young lawyer—who could not help assuring everyone she's one of the select society—is actually not as rich as she claimed.
The media that have followed netizens' steps in lashing out at the bragging girl include national ones like People's Daily and Legal Daily. As the incident fermented, Zhang's career is also in jeopardy after she's under such negative spotlight. It's known the bar association in south China's Guangdong province sent a notice to its Shenzhen branch, asking for an investigation into the matter in a bid to find out if Zhang had committed false advertising.

“Social media platforms like Weibo are regarded as public websites instead of individual social networking sites, so lawyers' remarks about themselves or their law firms on Weibo are basically for marketing legal services they provide,” the Guangdong bar association was quoted by CCTV, China's national television.

Zhang Qing identifies herself as a partner of Yingke, a Beijing-based international commercial law firm on Sina Weibo. And according to Yingke's official website, she graduated from the law school of Peking University and joined Yingke's Shenzhen branch in 2016. Chinese media dug deeper and found the publicized information to be not quite true—first, Zhang is not a partner and second, she is not a graduate of the renowned Peking University.

Southern Metropolis Daily quoted a senior law practitioner as saying that although it is controversial for lawyers to brag about personal wealth in WeChat friends' circle, it is not illegal, while the girl's claim that she's a partner of Yingke Law Firm may be the reason why the bar has put an eye on her.

According to a Legal Daily report, Zhang claimed her counselling fee to be 3,600 yuan per hour and is to be raised to 4,800 yuan next year, while in Shenzhen, the official cap for a lawyers' counselling fee is set at 3,000 yuan. According to the Guangdong Bar Association, if convicted, Zhang would be warned and fined for “soliciting business by illegitimate means”.

Despite all the harsh criticism, there are many netizens who sympathize with the young lawyer. One commented, “A civilized society should allow more freedom of speech”, while another argued, “The WeChat 'friend' who had leaked other people's remarks, meant only for the friends' circle, without asking for permission should really be punished”.

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