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Chinese Law Resources

China has enjoyed marked progress in its legal system since beginning economic reforms and opening up in the late-1970s. Training of judges, prosecutors, police, and defense lawyers has also contributed to gradual improvement of the civil and criminal justice systems. Despite these advances, legal reform continues to face serious challenges. Operating within a framework that maintains the supremacy of the Communist Party of China, the legal system, plagued by endemic corruption as well as the influence of guanxi (relationships), in many respects is still better characterized as rule-by-law rather than rule-of-law. The use of state security and state secrets laws to restrict procedural due process protections further contributes to politicized and opaque decision-making processes, especially in cases deemed sensitive by the authorities.

As with any legal system, China’s is under continuous revision and development. Since the transfer of power from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping in late 2012, influential intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, and activists have renewed their call for reforms to ensure constitutional governance based on supremacy of the law, protection of rights, and limits on government power. A diverse swath of civil society—including lawyers, farmers, workers, ethnic minorities, intellectuals, and others affected by social injustices—is increasingly asserting rights protected under Chinese law and International human rights norms.

To assist human rights defenders, international experts, journalists, scholars, and interested citizens in better understanding and engaging with China’s legal system, we have compiled resources related to laws and regulations that impact human rights.

These include not only substantive laws, but also official policy statements and analysis.  In addition to the materials available on our website, there are a number of helpful online resources for Chinese law research, updates, and analysis.  Some links to sites that HRIC recommends are provided at the bottom of the page.

Please browse the following links for legal resources relevant to the named topic:

Useful HRIC Webpages
Laws to Watch

2015-16 Legislative Plans:

  • State Council Legislative Plan for 2016 (April 13, 2016) (CH)
  • NPC Standing Committee Legislative Plan (June 1, 2015) (CH)

New and Notable:

  • Cybersecurity Law of the People's Republic of China (effective June 1, 2017) (CH) (EN)
  • Foreign NGO Management Law (April 28, 2016 - effective January 1, 2017) (CH) (EN)
  • Management Measures for Law Firms (Amendment) (effective November 1, 2016) (CH
  • Measures on the Management of Lawyers (Amendment) (effective November 1, 2016) (EN) (CH)
  • Xinjiang Implementation Measures for the Counter-Terrorism Law of the People's Republic of China (effective August 1, 2016) (CH) (EN)
  • Regulations Concerning the Protection of Lawyers' Professional Rights According to Law (Full Text, Released September 19, 2015) (CH) (EN)

Public Comment Period Closed:

  • Regulations for Social Service Organizations (CH) (Public comment closed June 26, 2016)
  • Regulations on the Management of Foundations (CH) (Public comment closed June 26, 2016)
  • Opinion on Reforming the Management System for Social Organizations so as to Promote the Healthy and Orderly Development of Social Organizations (effective August 22, 2016) (CH) (EN)
  • Community Corrections Law (Media Reporting Only) (CH)