China’s first Civil Code comes into force, a safeguard for private rights


By Global Times (1 January 2020) – China’s first-ever Civil Code comes into force on January 1, 2021. The new law provides legal protection to all kinds of private rights, responding to major public concerns and putting people’s interests at the center.

The Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China will be China’s first law with “code” in its name, and become the law with the most articles in the country.

The law is a wide-ranging legislative package that includes 1,260 articles in seven parts: general provisions, property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance and tort liability.

The law, as a declaration on the protection of civil rights, covers most civil acts in a person’s life.

It introduces new articles that respond to many social concerns that have recently arisen in the country, such as the infringement of portrait rights in face swapping videos and privacy violations on the excessive collection of personal information by mobile phone apps.

With the law’s implementation, some relevant civil institutions have introduced corresponding regulations or made adjustments.

The Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau said on Thursday that “marriage and family counseling” will be added as one necessary part in the divorce application procedure in the city from Friday, a move that cooperates with the divorce cooling-off period newly introduced by the law.

An option to choose “whether to receive marriage and family counseling” will be added to the divorce application process. This way, a couple can make appointments for professional counseling services by experts or social organizations on a voluntary basis.

The Civil Code opens a new era of civil rights protection in China, said Li Honglei, deputy director of the Institute of Law at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in his article published on Guang Ming Daily.

Li said the law is the concentrated embodiment of the rule of law with people at the center, and it will play an important value-leading role in legislation, law enforcement and judicature.

The Civil Code was adopted by the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress on May 28, 2020. China’s national leaders said the law better protects the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese people.


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