China has made a concrete step forward in compiling a comprehensive civil code to better protect citizens' rights by introducing a fundamental civil law.
The National People's Congress, the top legislature, adopted the General Provisions of the Civil Law at the closing of its annual plenary session on Wednesday.
The General Provisions, which will take effect on Oct 1, will be the opening chapter of a civil code planned to be enacted in 2020.
The civil code will include individual laws that deal with property, contracts, tort liability, marriage and inheritance, according to the legislative plan.
Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, called on Wednesday for stepping up work on the individual laws to ensure that a civil code that has Chinese characteristics and reflects the spirit of the time and the will of the people will be enacted in 2020.
Sun Xianzhong, deputy head of the China Civil Law Society and a drafter of the civil code, said the General Provisions will help push forward the country's social and economic development, as well as the rule of law.
"With the new law, 1.3 billion Chinese will feel more secure and enjoy more equal opportunities and dignity."
The NPC Standing Committee had reviewed the draft law three times last year and decided to submit it to the NPC plenary session for final deliberation due to its significance.
During the plenary session, national legislators had lively discussions about the law. The final version included more than 120 revisions to the draft submitted on March 8.
For example, a new clause stipulates that people will bear civil liabilities if they damage the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs.
The clause was added because some legislators said that a few people had maliciously defamed and insulted heroes and martyrs through slander, which has harmed the public interest and caused a negative social impact, said Qiao Xiaoyang, head of the NPC Law Committee.
Another spotlight is that the adopted law provides full protection for good Samaritans by waiving people's liability if they accidentally cause harm while helping others.
"The approval of the General Provisions is a milestone that will bring our system of laws into a new age," said Wang Junfeng, a national political adviser and head of the All China Lawyers Association.
Huang Lianxi, another political adviser and lawyer from Zhejiang province, said the new law, which reflects Chinese traditional virtues like helping others and respecting the elderly, will play an active role in guiding and regulating people's daily activities.