According to the reform guideline issued by the Supreme People’s Court on Wednesday, the top agenda for China’s next five years is to create a better legal environment for the nation’s reform and development. This also applies to litigants from home and abroad.

The priority for Chinese Courts nationwide is to foster a better legal environment by improving judicial services, according to the Supreme People’s Court guideline for 2019-23.

Photo: Gavel with China’s Flag

“We must keep in mind how important the rule of law is in promoting the country’s economic growth and policy implementation,” said Hu Shihao, director of the top court’s judicial reform office.

One step taken by the Chinese government was to set up bankruptcy courts aiming to effectively heavily debt enterprises to either restructure or close down. Since January 2019, big cities like Shenzhen, Guangdong, Beijing, and Shanghai have unveiled bankruptcy courts.

Since 2016, there have been strengthening in judicial protection of private enterprises and entrepreneurs. More notably, reviews by courts corrected a series of wrongful property-related cases. To enhance judicial protections, the judicial reforms require courts to set up a regular review system. The regular review system helps enterprises to overturn wrongful convictions and open them to the public in a timely manner.

“We’ll also create specific rules to ensure that key policies, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and supply-side structural reforms, are implemented more effectively, and litigants from home and abroad can be given a sound business environment,” said Li Shaoping, vice-president of the top court.

On Monday, President Xi Jinping called for efforts to create a favourable legal environment for China’s reform, development and stability. Xi was addressing the second meeting of the Commission for Overall Law-based Governance, which was organised under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The meeting emphasised the importance that the rule of law stabilises expectations and brings long-term benefits.

Xi’s remarks were well received by Mr. Liu Junhai, a professor of commercial law at the Renmin University of China. He said: “A favourable legal environment will encourage more people, including foreigners, to invest; it will also ensure safety in the financial industry. We need to promote sound economic growth with high-quality legislation and better law enforcement.”

According to Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, the reform will provide a clear image for courts to help improve the legal environment. Ruan also mentioned that it is also useful in enhancing public awareness of the rule of law.