Developments in China's legal system - with Colin Hawes

Guest: Colin Hawes, Associate Professor and Director of Courses, Law Faculty, University of Technology Sydney

Host: James Laurenceson, Deputy Director, Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), University of Technology Sydney

Over the last 10 to 15 years, the Chinese legal system has significantly improved in many areas. However, there is still much room for improvement. What plans do the Chinese government have in place to improve the rule of law? How well do Australians understand the Chinese legal system? How fairly can Australians expect to be treated under Chinese law?

Colin Hawes joins James Laurenceson to discuss developments in China’s legal system and implications for Australians.

China has a ‘two-faced’ legal system. On the one hand, it is becoming more systematic and predictable. For example, transparency has been enhanced through the introduction of an ‘open trials network’, which live-streams court trials across China. Judges are held accountable for convicting innocent people, and are increasingly refusing to allow false confessions as evidence. On the other hand, human rights lawyers, defence lawyers and campaigners are frequently silenced or arrested, and courts avoid taking on sensitive cases that are deemed to be ‘social issues’ rather than legal matters. If one is defined as an ‘enemy of the people’ or ‘enemy of the Party’, one is placed in a different category of people who are not seen as deserving of legal protection.

Australian businesspeople do not have to be concerned about their potential treatment under Chinese law, but they do need adhere to the law and avoid grey areas. 

Theme music by Sam J Mitchell.

December 14 2017