The research which has resulted in this book began with simple curiosity at what seemed like an unusual Chinese word. The term weiquan intrigued me, as a non-native speaker of Chinese, when I ¼rst read it in 2004 in the legal magazine Woodpecker. It was not de¼ned in any Chinese-English dictionary. The crude English translations of the article headings translated it in various different ways, most often ‘rights-preserving’ or ‘rights-reserving’. The articles which contained the word described various problematic situations which were dealt with by lawyers or the police, without any necessary connection between the various cases. The word seemed curious to me not just because its immediate meaning felt elusive, but also because ‘rights’ seemed to be a taboo word in China, at least to some extent. It felt incongruous to encounter what felt like such a broad term, one which might easily be used to criticise the party-state, in a periodical published by the Ministry of Justice.