The concept of the ‘rule of law’ has only recently begun to resonate in China, mainly through the country’s agreement to settle disputes using the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. Confucian values, identified as the foundation of China’s great cultural tradition, have controlled the social order and regulated people in all activities of Chinese daily lives, including the people’s legal consciousness, expectations of justice and trust in law. Persuasion and negotiations are a central tenet of Confucian theory. The notion of law in Confucian tradition has over many centuries largely been seen in the context of ‘penal and administrative law’. This legal tradition is distinct from the common and civil law of the Western society. This therefore means that with the changing fundamentals of global economic order, the notion of law in a Confucian tradition requires adaptation. In the eyes of the Chinese and most Asians, ‘globalisation’ implies the dominance of Western economic and cultural interests over the rest of the world. In the name of globalisation, economic development has reconstructed traditional social norms. Although Western legal systems and thoughts have greatly influenced China, fundamental differences remain.
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