China’s recent efforts to reform the legal and judicial system, in order to promote more effective rule of law reflect its longstanding commitment to pursue modernization and foster a rules-based society. All this is embodied in the resolution the recent Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issued. For those of us working directly with legal practitioners on the ground in China for the past three decades, we have witnessed this evolution and advancement first hand. Professionalizing the judiciary not only makes courts more trustworthy and respectable in the eyes of the people, but also enhances its capability to resolve disputes, and thus contributes to a more vibrant, prosperous community.
The upgrading of the legal regime also reflects the realities of a sophisticated market economy, catalyzing the communal accumulation of shared wealth. The growth of the market and the massive increase in consumer transactions which take place as society advances mean a potential increase in commercial disputes, and highlight the necessity of having a strong rule of law apparatus in place.
As China has become an increasingly important commercial and trading country over the past few decades, a more professional judicial system will help it to undergird stable, robust economic relations with other global powers. In this manner, China’s economic growth combined with the advancement of the rule of law can help contribute to the stability of the global financial system. Which becomes all the more important in these times of a deeply interconnected world still recovering from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet since China was the first major economy to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the momentum could add to its economic stability.
The commitment to foster a society ruled by law has manifested itself in concrete actions taken on the ground. Specifically, recent Chinese policy initiatives have ensured that a judge hearing a case will be responsible for its outcome too, which in fact is incentivizing superior quality trial management. And the judge quota protocols ensure that only the most qualified individuals occupy the prestigious post of a judge. Besides, the implementation of a Civil Code on Jan 1 this year, the first since the founding of the People’s Republic, is a major step toward compiling a single codified source of civil law that will simplify both research and understanding.