The development of the country's legal system embodies the essence of Chinese legal culture while embracing useful aspects of foreign law, experts said.
At the first central conference on law-based governance in November last year, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Xi Jinping said that China should explore a legal path derived from its practice of revolution, construction and reform. He also said that the law in China should embody the excellence of traditional Chinese legal culture and draw lessons from beneficial legal achievements from abroad. The meeting marked the establishment of Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law.
Xi highlighted the Chinese path of the rule of law as early as 2014, during the fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. He said in comprehensively advancing the rule of law, it is imperative that China take the right path and pursuing a wrong path would take the country in the opposite direction of what it was trying to accomplish.
Wang Xigen, dean of the school of law at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, said that the Party's leadership is the most important aspect of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.
"It's the most fundamental guarantee for the pooling of efforts and resources in accomplishing major tasks, and gives full play to the advantages of the rule of law," he said.
The rule of law in China upholds the principal position of the people, Wang said. "It relies on, serves, protects and respects the people and safeguards human rights," he said.
Jiang Shigong, a law professor at Peking University, said that the rule of law is like "a set of tools" that embodies fundamental values. "Laws in China are not designed to protect the interests of capitalists, but to protect public welfare and the interests of all the people," Jiang said.
The significance of socialist rule of law was stressed in a landmark resolution on the major achievements and historical experiences of the Communist Party of China over the past century. The resolution, adopted at the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee held from Nov 8 to 11, stressed that the Party must remain committed to the path of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.
Jiang said that in building the rule of law, China cannot simply copy the West and become a part of the Western legal system, but must seek to integrate its traditions and explore a legal order suited to its civilization.
The rule of law in China should be rooted in the country and its cultural traditions, he said, adding that Chinese culture and values, including patriotism, have been reflected and valued in the rule of law.
Wang said the "excellent and profound" legal culture embodied in the Chinese legal system should be maintained, including the legal traditions of "judging all by law" and "advocating morals and punishing prudently".
China has persisted in its commitment to both the rule of law and to the rule of virtue, he said, adding that "the country is integrating core socialist values into its legal system".
In 2018, the CPC Central Committee announced a plan to fully incorporate core socialist values into legislation over the next five to 10 years. The plan requires the legislation, revision and explanation of laws that embody core socialist values. "Laws and regulations should better reflect the nation's values, the moral orientation of society and the moral standards of citizens," it stated.
Economic laws should uphold the protection of property rights and fair competition, while judicial system reforms should ensure that the people see that justice is served in every case.
China will work on laws conducive to the preservation and development of traditional culture, standardized and equal public services, and promotion of eco-friendly production and consumption.
The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, has been tasked with drafting laws that uphold social morality, such as those protecting the reputations of heroes and martyrs, as well as laws related to the social credit system.
Opening to the outside
Jiang said that in the era of globalization, China's rule of law will undoubtedly be influenced by the West and the country will learn from beneficial aspects of Western law. "This does not conflict with adherence to the socialist rule of law," he added.
China has absorbed many Western legal achievements since reform and opening-up began, especially ones related to the market economy, Jiang said. In civil and commercial laws, as well as economic law, Western legal concepts have been taken into account.
Jiang said China has also been promoting the construction of the rule of law in matters involving foreign legal entities and has trained legal talent on a large scale.
China issued a plan on building the rule of law in January, the country's first plan for advancing the rule of law. It stated that China will improve the legal system and rules related to foreign interests to meet the needs of opening up to the outside world.
According to the plan, China will actively participate in the formulation of international rules, promote the formation of a fair and reasonable international legal system, and accelerate the construction of a legal system applicable outside its jurisdiction.
Jiang said that in the future China will gradually form a unique legal tradition, which will not only absorb modern Western traditions, but also incorporate classical Chinese traditions.