Chinese law

Chinese law refers to the law of China.

Imperial era

Late-Imperial and early Republican era

In the late Qing dynasty there was a concerted effort to establish legal codes based on European models. Because of the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War and because Japan was used as the model for political and legal reform, the law codes which were adopted were modelled closely after that of Germany. These legal codes were then adopted by the new Republican government, but because of the general disorder due to warlordism, they were not effectly put into practice.

Law in the People's Republic of China

Law in the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) contemplates both a formal system of social control by the a legal system and a complementary system of informal social control. This is derived both from traditional principles of Confucianism and from socialist theory.

After the Communist victory in 1949, the People's Republic of China quickly abolished the ROC's legal codes and attempted to create a system of socialist law copied from the Soviet Union. With the rift with the Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution, all legal work was suspected of being counter-revolutionary, and the legal system completely collapsed.

With the start of the Deng Xiaoping reforms, the need for reconstructing a legal system to restrain abuses of official authority and revolutionary excesses was seen. In 1982, the National People's Congress adopted a new state constitution that emphasized the rule of law under which even party leaders are theoretically held accountable. This reconstruction was done in piece-meal fashion. Typically, temporary or local regulations would be established and after a few years of experimentation, conflicting regulations and laws would be standardized.

Since 1979, when the drive to establish a functioning legal system began, more than 300 laws and regulations, most of them in the economic area, have been promulgated. The use of mediation committees -- informed groups of citizens who resolve about 90% of the PRC's civil disputes and some minor criminal cases at no cost to the parties--is one innovative device. There are more than 800,000 such committees in both rural and urban areas.

Legal reform became a government priority in the 1990s. Legislation designed to modernize and professionalize the nation's lawyers, judges, and prisons was enacted. The 1994 Administrative Procedure Law allows citizens to sue officials for abuse of authority or malfeasance. In addition, the criminal law and the criminal procedures laws were amended to introduce significant reforms. The criminal law amendments abolished the crime of "counter- revolutionary" activity, although many persons are still incarcerated for that crime. Criminal procedures reforms also encouraged establishment of a more transparent, adversarial trial process. The PRC constitution and laws provide for fundamental human rights, including due process, but theses are often ignored in practice. (See Human rights in China)

As a result of a pending trade war with the United States of America over violations of intellectual property rights of American corporations in the early 1990s, the People's Republic of China's trademark law has been modified and now offers significant protections to foreign trademark owners.

Law in the Republic of China

Law in the Republic of China on Taiwan is based on the legal system which carried to Taiwan by the Kuomintang. It is strongly based on the law of Germany. In the area of constitutional law, the Republic of China uses the 1947 Constitution which was promulagated for both Mainland China and Taiwan although numerous changes have been made to take into account the fact that the Republic of China only controls Taiwan and two counties of Fujian.

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