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Foreign-related rule of law a need of Chinese modernization

By Kong Qingjiang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-07 07:05
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Lujiazui, Shanghai's financial center. [Wang Gang/For China Daily]

As an integral part of the legal system with Chinese characteristics, a foreign-related rule of law that is responsible for handling foreign-related matters is indispensable for China, which is building itself into a powerful country through Chinese modernization, and pursuing the great cause of national rejuvenation.

Such a system is also indispensable for China as the country has embarked on an approach of institutional opening-up to sustain its economic development and is embracing various means to cope with external risks.

It is not difficult to find that the current foreign-related legal system is not consummate with the country's opening-up agenda and not well prepared for its effort to counteract the external risks associated therewith. This highlights the urgency of enhancing the legal system's capacity to handle foreign-related matters.

For example, in the first place, in the fields of overseas investment, foreign aid, ports, development zones, consular protection and so on, either there is no rule to follow or the normative document embodying the rule is low in the hierarchy of the normative document system. In the fields of foreign trade, nationality and the management of foreigners in China, the laws and regulations are relatively general and unsophisticated, and the provisions are often too vague to be able to specify in detail the rights and obligations of the government and the person concerned, and the legal basis for the government to provide services, implement supervision and handle disputes. Laws and regulations on domestic and foreign investment are not uniform. Moreover, policies and directives are often opaque and made further inaccessible because of red tape. All these problems restrict the further deepening of China's opening-up to the outside world.

Second, with the further advancement of China's all-round opening-up, overseas interests are increasingly exposed to security risks, and more legal disputes have arisen day by day. Against this backdrop, it has become an arduous task to safeguard national security and development interests and to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of Chinese corporate citizens.

Again, legal sanctions in the field of foreign affairs remain weak. Although China has promulgated the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, its starting point is to counteract the legal countermeasures against foreign hostile forces that illegally sanction China, and there are still legal dilemmas such as passive defense and inability to take the initiative to attack some foreign hostile forces that seek to endanger China's core interests.

At such a critical juncture, the authorities spelled out a blueprint for China's foreign-related legal system, specifying the fundamental purpose, the principled position and the method for carrying it out, thus pointing out the direction for accelerating the establishment of a foreign-related legal system and capacity building.

According to the blueprint, the foreign-related legal system is a systematic project to accomplish. It involves a wide range of issues that are often intertwined, and concerned with the interactions between domestic situations and international situations, and the tensions between development and security. Therefore, coordination between the overall domestic and international situations, as well as development and security should be orchestrated. With a view to forming a large-scale collaborative pattern of foreign-related legal system, a forward-thinking approach as well as a top-level design with an integration of foreign-related legislation, law enforcement, judicial work, compliance and legal services have to be adopted, accompanied by global planning, strategic layout, and overall advancement.

According to the blueprint, legislation will be prioritized that embodies enacting, amending, repealing, and interpretation. A collaborative and efficient implementation system for foreign-related legal system will come next. Then a sophisticated system of foreign-related legal services and close international cooperation in law enforcement and judicial work should be developed, and public awareness of compliance will be nurtured.

It should be pointed out that the blueprint views the international law as part of the foreign-related legal system, indicating that China's foreign-related legal system is in line with the international order based on international law, which is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The blueprint calls for active participation in the formulation of international rules, which are public goods, to promote the rule of law in international relations, as well as active participation in the reform of global governance to promote the development of global governance in a more just and reasonable direction.

The author is dean of the School of International Law at the China University of Political Science and Law.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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