Ten legal traditions(I): realistic, practical and pragmatic

(english.legalinfo.gov.cn) Updated : 2019-01-09

Ten Legal Traditions(II): Inheritance and Development from Generation to Generation

The law in ancient China manifested a trend of vertical inheritance and development starting from the Xia (c.21st century-16th century BC) and Shang (c. 16th century-11th century BC) Dynasties to the Qing Dynasty without interaction with foreign legal cultures. This is not by coincidence because China in ancient times was an inland country (topographic map) which was blocked by mountain in southwest and by sea, which blocked the communication of different legal culture(see picture). Besides, the law of China took the lead all over the world. Therefore, it exported laws to the neighbor countries including Japan, Korea, Annan (see picture). They all regarded Chinese law as the blueprint and made their legislation covered in the Chinese legal system. Hence, the development of China’s legislation is vertical.

As vertical as it is, it does not mean there were no progresses. On the contrary, it was inherited and developed from generation to generation which means that every dynasty made some changes to it. The law in the Tang Dynasty is different from that in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279) had something different as well. Besides the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were in turn different from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) all of which was a result of distinct historical features. The law of ancient China was not simply passed on from generation to generation. Instead it was changed and developed in accordance with changing society and different epoch.