China’s Legal System in Flux: Part 1/2

April 29, 2013

Since China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi (259 – 210 BC), a legal system was established that was relatively modern and forward-looking. Trained administrators were sent across the country to govern by statute. What was right and what was wrong was not subject to the whim of erratic autocrats or juries. Source: Anthropologist in the Attic

In general, ancient China’s legal system attempted to enforce filial piety, to uphold the respect of family ancestors, to avoid legal action when possible, to create deterrents to actions and to “control outbursts” (which may explain why China locks up democracy activists because they are shaking the boat). Source: Kwintessential.co.uk

No matter how much Westerners may disapprove of China’s ancient legal system, it had the acceptance of most Chinese because they understood the traditions behind the laws.


In May 2006, a short documentary of China’s changing legal system was produced.

As part of its economic reforms and policy of opening to the world, between 1980 and 1984, China established special economic zones in Shantou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai in Guangdong Province and Xiamin in Fujian Province and designated the entire island province of Hainan a special economic zone.

Many of China’s new laws were written after this happened.

The rapid growth in industry led to a large number of work related injuries. For example, In 1998, there were over 15,000 serious work related injuries and industrial accidents.

Zhou Litai, a Chinese lawyer, arrived in Shenzhen in 1995 to work on worker’s compensation cases. He says there are three reasons behind worker’s compensation cases in China.

1. The facilities are old and outdated. Some of the equipment was used in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Korea 20 years ago.

2. The workers don’t get the necessary training before they start work.

In fact, Zhou Litai says, “The government has clearly regulated that workers need to be trained before starting a new job, and working permits are required.”

3. The worker’s health deteriorated due to working overtime on a regular basis.

4. The government control isn’t strict enough (For more than two millennia the legal system avoided legal action when possible).

Many Western legal concepts are foreign to Chinese culture, and “thanks to China’s economic development, the commercial law in China is far more developed than other aspects of the legal system.” Source: Ultravires

Continued on April 30, 2013 in China’s Legal System in Flux: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Older than the New Testament

September 10, 2012

A conservative, born-again Christian friend once said that Communism was evil and that China needed a proper legal system. Since China already has a legal system, what did he mean? I’ve known this individual for decades, and I’m sure he meant that China should have a legal system like the one in America or the U.K. After all, he claims scripture guides his life and the Christian Bible has been around for centuries proving it comes from God. There is no other choice.

The problem with that logic is Confucius walked the earth long before Christ, and the New Testament didn’t exist for centuries after Christ was gone. What Confucius taught has been around longer.

What about China’s legal system?

The highest agency in China is the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. This agency is responsible for both prosecution and investigation in the People’s Republic of China. Similar institutions influence the office of the Procurator in the Socialist legal system. Its direct predecessor in China is the Supreme Court of the Republic of China, which in turn is descended from the Procuratorial Office of the late Qing Dynasty.

The Chinese legal system may have been broken during Mao’s Cultural Revolution but not any longer. It also appears that China’s legal system is an organic institution capable of change as seen in this piece from the Dui Hua Human Rights Journal.

Discover a Chinese Police Officer in Action

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Litigation Nation Virus Spreading West to East

October 17, 2011

I have called the United States the “Litigation Nation” a number of times due to frivolous lawsuits, and it seems that China has earned that title too.

A disturbing story hit the Web from Yahoo.com — Chinese express horror at public indifference to toddler hit-run victim.

A surveillance camera in the Chinese city of Foshan in southeastern Guandong province caught a van hitting a two-year-old girl and then the van drove away.  Several minutes went by and no one went to the toddler’s aid.  In fact, a second van ran over her before someone dragged her off the street.

The injured toddler is now hospitalized and in a coma according to Reuters.

The conclusion to the Yahoo.com post says, “Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed,” Reuters’ Martina wrote in his report. “High-profile law suits have ended with Good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.”


This video of the hit-and-run has been edited and elements of the toddler being hit by the vans were blurred.

This brought to mind an incident when I was a few years old in the late 1940s or early 1950s when my father stopped at the scene of an accident in a heavy rainstorm.

Other drivers stopped too and gave assistance to a man trapped in his wrecked car.

The injured driver’s leg was pinned under the dashboard and he was bleeding heavily. To save his life, my father returned to our car and took out a hacksaw from his tool kit in the trunk.

My father told me and my mother to stay in the car and went back out into the heavy rain to the accident site.

Then he and several other people that stopped to help worked together to cut off the man’s leg where the bone was exposed to get him out of the car where they could apply a tourniquet to the stump and stop the bleeding saving the man’s life.

In that era, America had not earned the term “Litigation Nation”, and my father and the other Good Samaritans were not arrested or taken to court for helping to save the man’s life even though he lost a leg.

In China, thanks to the surveillance camera, the two hit and run drivers of the toddler were arrested.

The reason for the apathy might be that in the early 1980s, China implemented legal reforms and adopted a Western style legal system based on German law.  The reason China did this was that it was required to be accepted to the World Trade Organization.

In fact, this fear of being punished for being a Good Samaritan is not exclusive to China.


WARNING! — This video does not blur the hit-and-run and reveals the horror of the toddler being run over by the two vans.

In December 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that Good Samaritans in California get no aid from high court. The California Supreme Court ruled that a young woman who pulled a co-worker from a crashed vehicle was not immune from civil liability because the care she rendered wasn’t medical.

In addition, sarbc.org, says, “American common law has little success in encouraging the Good Samaritan, and two famous cases strongly illustrate this point. In a 1964 case in New York, a woman was stabbed outside her apartment building while her neighbors watched. No one called the police. When she screamed, the attacker fled, only to return twice to stab and kill her when no one responded.

“The second incident occurred in Massachusetts, in 1983, when tavern patrons watched a woman being raped. The assault lasted more than an hour, but no one intervened or called for help. The predominant excuse in both cases was a fear of getting involved, and progress in changing laws to deal with apathy is still sporadic and slow.”

As for China, it appears that we are seeing the results of China adopting a Western legal system, which includes a virus called apathy and a fear of being punished for being a Good Samaritan.

Discover Growing China’s Legal System

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China is Not Red White and Blue – Part 2/2

May 10, 2011

Ai Weiwei was warned by representatives of the lawful government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to stop his illegal activities (according to Chinese law).

In such cases, it is common to receive an invitation to tea, which may not be refused, where the person responsible for what is considered counter-revolutionary activities (or another crime against the state) is told to stop or face the full might of China’s law.  China is not like Hitler’s Germany where the Gestapo showed up without warning and carried citizens off to be roasted or gassed by the millions.

The facts speak for themselves. Ai Weiwei refused to cooperate, and he violated Chinese law. Now he is locked up.

CNN doesn’t mention Ai Weiwei may have been in violation of the 1982 Chinese Constitution, which says in Article 28, “The state maintains public order and suppresses treasonable and other counter-revolutionary activities; it penalizes actions that endanger public security and disrupt the socialist economy and other criminal activities, and punishes and reforms criminals.”


US Marines Marching

The PRC is not hiding anything except where Ai Weiwei is locked up and the details behind his crime. Even in the US, the authorities are often denied the right to talk about an accused criminal and the facts behind a legal case to the press.

I’ve read in the past where some Western critics say that Chinese law is difficult to interpret and has loopholes that the PRC may use to the Party’s advantage.

Since when was any law in any country easy to understand?  If you aren’t an American lawyer, how easy is if to understand the US legal system, and doesn’t the US have loopholes that the wealthy and corporations take advantage of not to pay taxes in America? President Ronald Reagon did not pay any tax one year, and he said loopholes in the law allowed it.

Compare the language of the 1982 Chinese Constitution to the US Constitution and anyone may see the differences.

In addition, Article 53 of the Chinese Constitution says, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China must abide by the constitution and the law, keep state secrets, protect public property and observe labour discipline and public order and respect social ethics.”


PRC Troops and Flag Ceremony

An amendment to Article 13 was revised to say, “Citizens’ lawful private property is inviolable” and “The State, in accordance with law, protects the rights of citizens to private property and to its inheritance” and “The State may, in the public interest and in accordance with law, expropriate or requisition private property for its use and shall make compensation for the private property expropriated or requisitioned.”

In fact, nowhere in the CNN piece does it explain that no one owns land or houses in China as they do in the US. It’s more like a lease with the right to pass that property on to someone else in the family after death.

What happens in the US if the property tax isn’t paid? Does anyone really own the house and land they live on?

In part one I mentioned that China’s flag wasn’t red, white and blue. Instead, it is red and gold.

The red of the Chinese flag symbolizes the communist revolution, and it’s also the traditional color of the people. The large gold star represents communism, while the four smaller stars represent the social classes of the people. In addition, the five stars together reflect the importance placed on the number five in Chinese thought and history. Source: World Atlas

Maybe Ai Weiwei forgot which flag flies over his country or he is blind.

Return to China is Not Red White and Blue – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is theaward-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Growing China’s Legal System

July 18, 2010

In October 2008, Stephen Yao, talked about the evolution of the Chinese legal System. During the Cultural Revolution, for ten years, China had no law or legal system.  Then in 1979, Deng Xiaoping initiated the “Open Market Policy”.

Law schools, the ministry of justice and legal services were started in the early 1980s.  Another milestone was in 2001, after China joined the WTO (World Trade Organization).  The economic changes were taking place faster than the legal system was developing.

In 2008, the Chinese legal system had the minimum standards as recognized by the WTO.

In the video, Stephen Yao displays a chart for China’s Legal System and explains briefly what it means.  The second slide shows China’s legal market overview and the multilayered legal structure.

Yao says that the death penalty must be referred to China’s higher court and the lower courts do not have the power to apply the death penalty.

See China Law and Justice System

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Qianlong Emperor and Google

March 16, 2010

On Friday, March 12, the BBC reported that the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong adopted a tough stance during a legislation session. “I hope that Google will abide and respect the Chinese government’s laws and regulations,” he said.  “But, if you betray Chinese laws and regulations … it means that you are unfriendly, irresponsible, and you will have to pay the consequences.”

Qianlong Emperor

Google doesn’t get it.  If they read what the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1796) wrote in his famous letter to King George the III in 1793—when China was strong enough to resist external influence—they might understand.

China is a family oriented culture, and the individual is not as important. Public freedom of expression does not fit the Confucian, Taoist foundation that begins in the family where you do not publicly criticize your elders or your leaders and expect to get away with it.

Starting with the first Opium War in 1840 until Mao won China in 1949, China was weak and was bullied by Imperial powers. Now that China is strong, they are saying “NO” as the Qianlong Emperor did.

Discover The Influence of Confucius

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.