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Rule of law to advance opening-up, experts say

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-08 06:50

Providing a law-based business environment for all advances China's high-level opening-up and also embodies the implementation of the Constitution, experts said.

They said that rule of law provides the best business environment and is required by the Constitution, the fundamental legal basis for China's governance and the supreme legal norm for political and social life.

They commented after President Xi Jinping emphasized the need to uphold the authority and sanctity of the Constitution and promote its further improvement and development on Monday, the 10th National Constitution Day.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, highlighted the importance of building a law-based business environment at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee last week, calling for the optimization of measures and related laws and regulations to make it easier for expatriates to live in China.

Mei Yu, deputy chief judge of the Beijing International Commercial Tribunal, said that efficiently handling international commercial cases and offering better legal services for litigants from home and abroad aligned with the nation's high-level opening-up and the implementation of the Constitution.

"Domestic and foreign parties in international commercial disputes often have differences in business culture, concept and customs," Mei said. "Rule of law, a crucial symbol of a modern civilized society, is a universally accepted governance method, as it can protect people's rights and help them live a safe and dignified life."

Solving international business conflicts through legal means is a global consensus and also a requirement of the Constitution, she added.

The Constitution, which was adopted in 1982, says that China has a socialist market economy, endowing entities with the right to do business and allowing them to solve problems in legal ways.

It also welcomes foreign investment and permits various forms of economic cooperation between Chinese and foreign entities, stipulating that foreign enterprises, economic organizations or individuals investing in China should abide by Chinese laws, with their legitimate rights and interests protected by laws.

"Specifying the rights and duties of Chinese and foreign commercial entities in the Constitution means a constitutional guarantee for the business environment," said Mo Jihong, vice-chairman of the China Law Society's Association of Constitutional Law.

"In other words, enhancing awareness of the Constitution and implementing the fundamental law can enable domestic and foreign market entities to give full play to their potential, maintaining the healthy development of the socialist market economy," Mo said.

Mei, the deputy chief judge, said that measures taken by the tribunal to solve international commercial disputes showed its judicial determination to be consistent with the Constitution and its spirit.

The tribunal handled an increasing number of cases related to the Belt and Road Initiative after economic and trade exchanges with many nations became more frequent following its launch a decade ago, Mei said.

In the past five years, the tribunal concluded 531 cases related to 88 countries and regions participating in the initiative, she said, adding that foreign litigants have also been given easier access to legal services and diverse means, including mediation and arbitration, to solve their problems.

"Equal protection has always been upheld in our case handling, no matter whether litigants are domestic or foreign," she said. "Accurate application of foreign laws and international conventions has also been guaranteed."

Mei said that the tribunal heard a case about a loan dispute between Chinese people and two Norwegians via video link in May 2021, and it has also allowed witnesses to provide evidence and case materials online.

"Allowing litigants to enjoy cloud-based legal services can reduce inconvenient travel, especially for those living or working overseas, and it can also improve the efficiency of concluding lawsuits, ensuring litigants' legitimate rights and interests can be protected in a timely manner," she said.

In addition to giving foreign litigants easier access to legal services, the tribunal provides domestic enterprises with introductions to commercial laws to help them avoid risks as they go global.

"On Nov 8, 2022, when we visited a State-owned enterprise to mediate a dispute, we told the employer about legal risks in foreign investment, with training on how to select better ways of resolving international commercial disputes and drawing up contracts for its executives and staff members responsible for legal affairs," Mei said. "Such training plays a big role in helping Chinese enterprises investing in foreign countries regulate themselves and learn how to protect their rights in the investment."

She said the tribunal has also introduced legal policies and international rules to Chinese people by disclosing influential cases and making judicial suggestions, so that they can enhance their legal awareness and help maintain order in international economic and trade ties.

To help Chinese companies realize the significance of building a sound business environment and reduce their foreign investment risks, multiple courts across the country have increased exchanges with enterprises and provided them with stronger law education.

In one example, judges in Qinzhou's Qinnan district, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, visited a company that produces chemicals and new materials to provide an introduction to the Constitution and show it how to prevent contract fraud.


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