Shanghai has promised to extend legal aid to foreign suspects, local justice authorities said.
In 2017, legal aid was provided to foreign suspects in 119 criminal cases, up 19 percent from the previous year, said Zhang Ming, deputy director of Shanghai Legal Aid Center.
Most foreigners who received aid were suspected of theft, fraud and drug trafficking, Zhang said.
Starting last October, China launched a pilot program to ensure all criminal defendants have access to defense lawyers for their trials. The program has been carried out in Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan, Guangdong, Sichuan and Shaanxi.
On Dec. 29 last year, Shanghai published a regulation on how to carry out the pilot program. According to the regulation, if criminal suspects do not hire their own attorneys, legal aid lawyers will be provided to them. Interpreters will be also provided to the suspects.
At present, a defense lawyer is only mandatory for juveniles and defendants with certain physical or mental disabilities, or in cases in which defendants face life imprisonment or the death penalty.