China’s Legal System
China’s legal system covers laws that fall under seven categories and three different levels. The seven categories are the Constitution and Constitution-related, civil and commercial, administrative, economic, social, and criminal laws and the law on lawsuit and non-lawsuit procedures. The three different levels are state laws, administrative regulations and local statutes.
By March 2008, the NPC and its Standing Committee had promulgated more than 229 laws currently in force, the State Council had issued over 600 administrative regulations currently in force, local people’s congresses and their standing committees had enacted over 7,000 local statutes currently in force, and the people’s congresses of national autonomous areas had enacted over 600 regulations concerning autonomy and local needs. A socialist legal system having Chinese characteristics and centered on the Constitution has taken initial shape. China now has laws governing the basic, important aspects of its political, economic, cultural and social life.
Concerning the Constitution and Constitution-related laws, in addition to having adopted the current Constitution and its four amendments, China has also enacted the Electoral Law, Law on Deputies to the NPC and to Local People’s Congresses, and a number of organic laws for state organs, Legislative Law, the Supervision Law and other laws related to state organs. China has also enacted laws concerning systems for regional ethnic autonomy, special administrative regions and primary-level mass self-governance: principally the Law on the Autonomy of Ethnic Minority Regions, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region, the Organic Law of Villagers’ Committees and the Organic Law of Urban Neighborhood Committees.
With regard to civil and commercial law, China has enacted laws concerning property and personal relations between individual entities with equal standing in society. These principally include the General Principles of Civil Law, the Contract Law, the Guarantee Law, the Auction Law, the Trademark Law, the Patent Law, the Copyright Law, the Marriage Law, the Inheritance Law, and the Adoption Law. China also enacted laws concerning commercial relations between individual entities with equal standing in society: principally the Company Law, the Partnership Law, the Law on Single Investor Enterprises, the Securities Law, the Insurance Law, the Negotiable Instruments Law, the Commercial Banking Law, the Maritime law and the Trust Law.
Concerning administrative law, China has enacted laws concerning state administration: principally the Regulations on Administrative Penalties Concerning Law Enforcement, the Administrative Punishment Law, the Administrative Licensing Law, the National Defense Law, the Government Procurement Law, the Education Law, the Law on Scientific and Technological Progress, the Law on Preventing and Controlling Communicable Diseases and the Environmental Protection Law. China has also enacted laws related to oversight of administrative activities: mainly the Law on Administrative Supervision and the Law on Administrative Reconsideration.
With regard to economic law, China has enacted laws concerning macro-economic controls: principally the Budget Law, the Audit Law, the Law on the People’s Bank of China, the Price Law, the Personal Income Tax Law, and the Law on Tax Collection and Management. China has enacted laws for maintaining market order: principally the Law on Product Quality and the Advertising Law. China has enacted laws for opening wider to the outside world: principally the Law on Joint Ventures with Chinese and Foreign Investment, the Law on Sino-Foreign Contract Joint Ventures, the Law on Wholly Foreign-Invested Enterprises, and the Foreign Trade Law. China has enacted laws to promote industrial development: principally the Agriculture Law, the Highway Law, the Civil Aviation Law, and the Electric Power Law. China has enacted laws for protecting and rationally developing natural resources: principally the Forestry Law, the Grassland Law, the Water Law, the Mineral Resources Law, and the Law on Land Management. China has also enacted laws for standardizing economic activities: principally the Metrology Law, the Statistics Law and the Surveying Law.
Concerning social law, Chinahas enacted laws concerning labor relations and safeguarding workers: principally the Labor Law, the Trade Union Law and the Law on Mining Safety. China has also enacted laws protecting special groups in society: principally the Law on Security for the Disabled, the Law Protecting Minors, the Law Safeguarding the Rights and Interests of Women and the Law Safeguarding the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.
With regard to criminal law, China has enacted the Criminal Law and adopted more than 10 related supplementary decisions, amendments and legal interpretations to standardize definitions of crimes, assignment of criminal responsibility and determination of punishment.
Concerning lawsuit and non-lawsuit procedures, China has enacted laws to standardize procedures for lawsuits and other legal actions: principally the Criminal Procedures Law, the Civil Procedures Law, the Administrative Procedures Law, the Law on Special Procedures for Maritime Lawsuits, the Extradition Law, and the Arbitration Law.
To adapt to new changes brought about by the development of the market economy, all-round social progress and China’s entry into the WTO, China will continue to enact new laws and amend and improve the laws currently in force to create a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics by 2010.