Roy L. Sturgeon
Tulane University Law School
332 Weinmann Hall
6329 Freret St.
New Orleans, LA 70118-6231
Tel: +1 504.865.5953
Fax: +1 504.865.5917
Like most nations, China has a written constitution. The current one was adopted in 1982 & has been amended 4 times. For more details, see:
Like most nations, China has law codes (i.e., statutes—substantive & procedural). For scholarly editions of some major ones, see:
Like most nations, China publishes gazettes (i.e., official government journals) containing new laws, regulations, & other legal information. But only in Chinese. For similar English-language sources, see:
Like most nations, China has enacted domestic human rights laws & signed international human rights treaties. For details & sources, see:
Journals, News, & Blogs
Journals, news, & blogs are great sources for getting context (i.e., much-needed background) on Chinese legal issues. Among the best are:
Basics & Superlatives
Established on October 1, 1949, in Beijing (or Peking as it is still sometimes called), the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the world's most populous nation, with around 1.4 billion souls. It is also the world's largest one-party state: that party being the Communist Party of China (CPC or CCP), which is the world's largest political organization, with around 85 million members. China has the world's fastest-growing & second-largest major economy, trailing only the United States (US), which it might surpass by decade's end. Its legal system is a hybrid of traditional Chinese law (dating back 3,000 years), Soviet law, & continental European—especially German—civil law.
Sources featured in this LibGuide pertain mostly to the PRC (or mainland China) & not the special administrative regions of Hong Kong & Macao or the self-governed island of Taiwan. For historical & political reasons, these 3 places—although Chinese—have different legal systems, sources, & research methods.
"Is There Law in China? Is There Justice?"
New York University law professor Jerome Cohen helped pioneer the study of Chinese law by US scholars in the 1960s. After Nixon's historic 1972 China trip, Cohen was among the first US academics to visit & practice law in the PRC. In 2008 he gave an invited lecture at UC San Diego about China's legal system. Watch below:
General Research Guides & Treatises
For more help with learning about & researching Chinese law, see:
For help with citing to Chinese law materials, see the Bluebook (Rule 20.2.4, pp. 194–5 & Table 2.9, pp. 344–9), Annex: Bluebook Supplemental Rules for Chinese Sources (pp. 559-66), Citation Guidelines for Chinese Language Materials, & Guide to Foreign & International Legal Citations (pp. 35–9).
It is much less difficult to research Chinese law in English than ever before. Accurate translations of most of China's major laws can be found in print &/or online (fee & free). In recent decades, growing numbers of scholars & practitioners (in & out of China) have published books, articles, & other materials in English, mirroring China's post–1978 re-emergence on the world stage. Also, the fairly new subscription database Westlaw China owes its existence to China's latest rise as well as a growing demand by English-language users to learn about Chinese law for academic & other purposes.
By & About the Government
For official &/or accurate information, see:
Like most nations, China has courts that decide (& help settle) disputes between parties. But few court decisions ever get translated into English. For some examples, see:
Intellectual Property (IP)
Like most nations, China has enacted domestic IP laws & signed international IP treaties. For sources & research help, see:
This information was first given by Roy L. Sturgeon as part of an invited panel talk at the 2013 American Association of Law Libraries annual conference held July 13–6 in Seattle, WA. He expanded & published it as this LibGuide in September 2013 for Tulane University Law School in Louisiana.