Elgar Asian Commercial Law and Practice series
Chapter 1: CONFLICT OF LAWS IN CHINA—A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
China is a country that boasts both a splendid ancient civilization and a long history whose legal origin may date back thousands of years. During its history great achievements have been made in various aspects, including law. Chinese law has been widely recognized as one of the world’s major law families, which significantly influenced the East Asian countries, such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam. However, Chinese social and legal development lagged far behind the western world since the nineteenth century. Since the twentieth century, however, Chinese law has been strongly influenced by the western law; consequently, law in China today has become a complex blend of traditional Chinese approaches and western influences. In ancient China, the legal system had been largely based on the Confucian philosophy of social control through moral education, as well as the ‘Legalist’ emphasis on codified law and criminal sanction. Following the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the Republic of China, the first republic in Asia, adopted a largely western-style legal code following the civil law tradition (specifically influenced by Germany). In 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. The first step of the PRC Government was the abolition of the existing legal system, which was regarded as having supported feudal and colonial rules. Nonetheless, because of the extreme left-wing ideology, there was not very much effort to create a new legal system from the 1950s to the 1970s.