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China Lecture Series 26 - “The Current State, Challenges, and Prospects of China’s Rule of Law”

 

China Lecture Series 26

 
Invited Lectures by Chinese Scholars - “The Current State, Challenges, and Prospects of China’s Rule of Law”


16:00-18:00 January 17, 2017
KFAS Conference Hall

Han Dayuan (韓大元)—Dean of Renmin University of China Law School

 

 

Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS) invited Dean Han Dayuan (韓大元) of Renmin University of China Law School to give a lecture on “The Current State, Challenges, and Prospects of China’s Rule of Law” on January 17th as the 26th lecture in the China Lecture Series.

 

 

Dean Han began his talk by stating that in order to understand a nation, one must first understand the history of its rule of law. The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, and constitutional law was first enacted in 1854, but China encountered difficulties developing its legislative system during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. Dean Han explained that the rule of law began developing in earnest after the current law was proclaimed in 1982, and that China’s 30-year rule of law cannot be compared to the West’s 100-year rule of law.

 


He went on to state that by limiting governmental authority through the rule of law, there is a basic consensus that the human rights of the people must be protected. He elaborated that last year the National People's Congress began compiling the civil code with plans to complete it by March 2020 and announced the “Implementation Outline for the Construction of a Government under the Rule of Law (2015-2020)” with the goal of realizing a rule of law administration. However, the general public does not yet have great esteem for the government’s enforcement of the law.

 


Dean Han clarified the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the rule of law, which many people are curious about. According to constitutional law, as a political party, the Chinese Communist Party must abide by constitutional law, and all rights of the ruling party fall under constitutional law.

 


Dean Han stated that if the Chinese Communist Party violates the law, it loses its legitimacy as the ruling party as well as the support of the people. He declared that Chinese Communist Party’s emphasis on regulations and its strong anti-corruption campaign shows its willingness to rule under constitutional law.


 

Wrapping up his talk, Dean Han stated that due to the disproportionate regional distribution of legal professionals and the lack of judicial independence, China’s rule of law still has a long way to go. However, he stated his conviction that only the rule of law can lead China towards a bright future.


In the following discussion with KFAS board member Sai Ree Yun of Yulchon law firm, the two talked about various topics including how to guarantee the rights of foreign companies doing business in China, concrete ways to achieve judicial independence, a systematic examination of violations in constitutional law, and the protection of minority rights in China.

 


Dean Han argued that the rights of foreign companies doing business in China are well protected. He said that the majority of cases of Korean companies that have trouble doing business in China stem from being unable to understand the investment environment and related laws. He emphasized that while many believe that China values guanxi (关系) and try to solve problems using unofficial channels, only the law must be used to resolve issues.

 


As for minority rights and interests, Dean Han stated that women’s rights are relatively well protected, but protecting the rights of ethnic minorities and ensuring the freedom of political expression is a future task for China. His view was that the government should be open-minded and protect the rights that minorities have to express their views online even if they are not right. This is because the purpose of the rule of law is not to protect the rights of the majority, but to protect the rights of minorities whose freedom of speech and thought are not protected.


 

Dean Han also introduced the central government’s plan to launch a national supervisory commission or new anti-corruption body. He stated that the greatest obstacle in pushing ahead the central government’s anti-corruption campaign is that the subject is not the judicial body but the party’s organizations, thereby prohibiting judicial action. Dean Han voiced his belief that once the national supervisory commission is officially launched in 2018, it will leave no room for the abuse of public power.


Dean Han’s lecture and discussion can be viewed at the KFAS homepage and YouTube page.


 

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