Domestic Law Reforms in Post-Mao China

By Pitman B. Potter | Go to book overview
Save to active project

bilities and since have vacillated between promotion of contract and greater collectivization. 81 Such policy incoherence is common in other sectors of the Chinese economy with respect to many programs. The place of contract, either in the economy or in the legal system, is far from certain.

Nonetheless, contract law has acquired a certain respectability over the past decade or so of legal development in the PRC. Even when newly enacted contract law and regulations are honored more in the breach than by effective implementation, their terms and general tenor are quite widely understood by ordinary Chinese and government officials. The accomplishments of recent legislative efforts and attempts to construct a legal order in China are still threatened by an excessively politicized legal and judicial administration, but China's engagement of the wider world and desire for industrialization and modernization make its eventual legalization inevitable. The 1993 revision of the ECL, however welcome, is merely the latest accommodation of evolving legal and economic reality in the PRC and remains subject to further shifts in government policy. For the foreseeable future, with respect to contract as well as the PRC's nascent legal system, uncomfortable ambiguities and a multiplicity of roles will likely continue.

See, e.g., Lubman, "Methodological Problems in Studying Chinese Communist 'Civil Law,'" in Contemporary Chinese Law: Research Problems and Perspectives, ed. Cohen ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 230-60. See also Hsiao, The Role of Economic Contracts in Communist China, 53 Calif. L. Rev. 1029 ( 1965); R. M. Pfeffer , Understanding Business Contracts in China, 1949-1963 ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973).
Macneil, "Contract in China: Law, Practice, and Dispute Resolution", 38 Stan. L. R. 303 ( 1986). For guarded support from a prominent social scientist who is not familiar with China, see Dahl, "Social Reality & 'Free Markets,'" Dissent, Spring 1990, at 236 (new commitment to market economy in Eastern Europe requires a "clement political and legal framework").
See, e.g., Jones, "An Approach to Chinese Law", 4 Rev. Soc. L.3-25 ( 1978) (pre-1979 Chinese laws not codified law in the Western sense but rather directives for officials); see also Munzel, "Approaches to Chinese Law: A Comment on Professor W. Jones' Article", 4 Rev. Soc. L.323-27 ( 1978) (legal regulations are "hidden" in specialized technical rules and internal directives); and Jones, "Approaches to Chinese Law: A Reply to Comments by Dr. F. Munzel", 4 Rev. Soc. L.329-46 ( 1978) (adumbrating the basic problems of looking at Chinese law as though it were a Western code).
But see Goldstein, "The Domain of Inquiry in Political Science: General Lessons from the Study of China", 21 Polity, no. 3 ( Spring 1989), pp. 517-37 (arguing that China scholars have unfortunately tended to "pursue descriptive institutional studies at the expense of theoretical explanation").
Zhonghua renmin gongheguo jingji hetongfa ( Economic contract law of the PRC), adopted by the Fourth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress, promulgated 13 December 1981 (hereinafter "ECL"); the Chinese text and an English translation appear in 1 China Laws for Foreign Business, paragraph 5-500(7), at 6,551 (CCH Australia Ltd., 1985 ed.). All citations to articles of the ECL refer to the numbering of articles in the


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Domestic Law Reforms in Post-Mao China


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 316

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?