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NPC's debate brings nation closer to unified civil code

By Cao Yin and Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-09 07:22

A fundamental law that aims to protect people's civil rights was submitted to China's top legislature for deliberation on Wednesday.

If adopted on March 15, the draft general provisions of civil law will bring the country a step closer to its long-awaited unified civil code.

Experts said the draft law, discussed at the annual NPC session, lays down basic principles for the protection of civil rights and properties, and the responsibilities and liabilities of those engaged in civil suits.

"Formulating the unified civil code will better help protect people's interests, improve State governance, preserve market order, ensure trade security, and promote the sound development of the socialist market economy," said Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.


Compiling a civil code, dubbed "an encyclopedia of social life" that regulates personal and property relations, has been a dream for generations of Chinese.

In 1954, 1962, 1979 and 2001, China made separate attempts to draft a civil code, only to stop due to political turmoil and other reasons. In March 2015, the drafting of the general provisions started, marking the beginning of China's journey to its own civil code.

After the adoption of the general provisions, lawmakers will start work on compiling individual chapters on property, contracts and marriage, among others, which will be integrated into a unified code. According to the legislative plan, the code will be enacted in 2020.

While explaining the draft to about 3,000 legislators on Wednesday, Li highlighted a "green" principle in the draft, making environmental protection and resource conservation a priority in civil activities.

"It reflects our country's new development concepts and also takes into consideration conflicts between our large population and ecological resources," he said.

The draft also codifies protection of personal information for the first time, saying no person or organization can illegally collect, use, process or transfer others' personal information, nor illegally purchase, provide or disclose it.

Wang Faliang, a national legislator from Shandong province, said the timing is right to enact the general provisions.

"After experiencing rapid economic growth in the past three decades, Chinese people have had a growing awareness of property rights, agreements and fair competition," he said.

"The country is able and needs to further promote the awareness of rules and enhancement of moral restraint."


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