China moving closer to civil code as Two Sessions nears
China's national legislature will deliberate a massive bill when its annual session opens Friday, moving closer to having a civil code for the people's republic.
An 84-chapter, 1,260-article draft was put together in December after different parts of it were reviewed, including the general provisions and six parts on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance and torts liability.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) decided in its December session that the draft would be presented to the NPC annual session in 2020 for deliberation.
"Having a civil code will be another crucial milestone in developing a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics," said Wang Yi, dean of the law school at Renmin University of China. "It will greatly boost the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance."
China has a slew of civil laws in place, laying a solid foundation for the codification process.
Lawmakers said it is not about formulating a new civil law but rather systematically integrating civil laws and regulations, modifying and improving them to adapt to new situations while maintaining the consistency of existing laws.
For example, the draft civil code includes articles on personal information protection, and enhances the protection of virtual properties in cyberspace.
The decision to compile the civil code was announced in October 2014 at a plenary session of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. The legislative process started in June 2016.
The General Provisions of the Civil Law was adopted in 2017. Starting in August 2018, six draft parts were reviewed in different NPC Standing Committee sessions. In December 2019, a complete draft civil code was unveiled.
Then the draft was posted online to solicit public opinions.
A total of 13,718 people submitted 114,574 pieces of advice from late December to late January, said Yue Zhongming, spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
Many of the suggestions concern the everyday lives of the public, Yue said, adding that the legislature will conduct careful research and take reasonable suggestions into consideration.
Lawmaker Sun Xianzhong, who has spent years pushing for a civil code, said he was excited at the prospect at the coming NPC session.
"It's like witnessing a sapling growing into a lush tree," said Sun.