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Eight innovation in China’s draft general provisions of civil law

By Xu Jun from People’s Daily (People's Daily Online)    08:57, March 10, 2017

The 5th session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) of China deliberated on the draft general provisions of civil law on Wednesday afternoon.

From the beginning, the draft has drawn strong response from the society. Its release will better improve the basic rules of the socialist market economy and provide the legal base for Chinese people’s civil rights and civil case ruling.

Su Zelin, Deputy Director of Law Committee of NPC Standing Committee, who participated the entire deliberation process, introduced the eight innovations in the general provisions to People’s Daily.

No.1: More emphasis on public order and good moral

The current General Principles of Civil Law, Contract Law and Property Law all stipulate that civil subjects, when conducting civil activities, shall respect social ethnics and avoid damaging public interests and economic order. However, none of them have been mandatorily enforced. The draft specifically listed “not violating public order and good moral” as abindingarticle of the civil law.

No.2: Requirement of energy conservation and environment protection

The general provisions included energy conservation and environment protection as basic requirements for civil subjects. Waste of resource and harming the eco-environment shall be castigated to curb the crude development style, which provides institutional guarantee for the scientific and sustainable development.

No. 3: Protection of embryo rights

The General Principles do not define embryos as nature persons in the legal sense, thus stripping their civil rights. The draft added clauses to protect the rights of embryos including inheritance and accepting grant. This is an extension of laws on protection of children’s rights, and will build a better environment for children’s healthy development.

No.4: Special protection for minors’ civil rights

Given the physical, psychological and mental features of minors, the general provisions stipulated special protection for minors’ rights. For instance, the statute of limitations of requests for legal representatives for person with none or limited capacity for civil conduct shall be counted from the day of termination of said legal representatives. Also, the statute of limitations for compensation of sexual abuse on minors shall be counted from the day the victim turns 18 years old.

No.5: Designated will guardian

On the basis of previous guardianship forms, the draft added two new approaches, designated will guardian and guardian appointment through agreements. The provisions also state that the guardian should perform its duties in accordance with the principle that most benefit the person under the guardianship. This is an improvement and development of China’s civil law supervision system.

No. 6: The “special legal person” system

During the first deliberation of the draft, legal persons are divided into profit legal person and non-profit legal person. At the 4th deliberation, based on the features, process and functions for the establishment of legal person, a category of “special person” is added, which will be regulated by specific chapters. As an innovation of China’s legal person system, it is widely echoed.

No. 7: Civil responsibility priority

The draft expanded articles on civil rights. First, specific regulations are made on personal information protection; second, principled regulations are added on data and virtual property protection, leaving development space for institutional protection of such rights; third, the equal protection system is established and fourth, the civil responsibility priority is established.

No. 8: Wavier of responsibility for volunteer emergency assistance

The general provisions also specified the waiver of responsibility for volunteer emergency assistance. Damage on aided person due to volunteer emergency assistance is not subject to civil responsibility. This offers legal protection for righteous acts and volunteer assistance. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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