Does China have the rule of law? What Australian businesses and the public should know
April 02 2020
Since the 1980s the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has undertaken gradual reform of its legal system, towards what President Xi Jinping has called ‘governing the country in accordance with the law’. Still, in a context where – as Xi has stated – ‘the [Communist] Party leads on everything’, observers note that ‘socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics’ means a ‘rule of law’ which differs significantly from the Australian application of the concept. Of concern, for instance, are murky charges levelled at Australian citizen Yang Hengjun, detained in the PRC since January 2019 in what Foreign Minister Marise Payne has described as harsh conditions. Such examples appear to contrast with the PRC government’s efforts to create a legal system more attractive to foreign investment and business.
What do Australian businesses operating in the PRC need to understand about its legal environment? Has progress been made? What areas of risk remain compared with operating in, say, the United States? How does the rule of law that applies to Australian businesses contrast with the claims of rule of law applying to Australians like Yang Hengjun?
The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) hosted Colin Hawes, Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at UTS, to discuss these questions and more during the launch of his report for UTS:ACRI, Dealing with commercial legal risks in the People's Republic of China: a primer for Australian businesses.
Time: 6pm - 7.30pm
About the author:
Colin Hawes is Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at UTS.
Dr Hawes joined the UTS Law Faculty in 2005 after obtaining his PhD at the University of British Columbia and practising law in Vancouver, Canada. He has published numerous articles on Chinese law and society, and his second book, The Chinese Transformation of Corporate Culture traces the emergence of a uniquely Chinese hybrid corporate form that combines economic, social and political ends.
His recent research focuses on the Chinese corporate ecosystem, the creative interpretation of corporate law by Chinese judges, and the impact of technology on the operation of the Chinese legal system.
Dr Hawes has been invited by leading international universities to teach law courses or to conduct research as a visiting professor, including Oxford University (UK), China University of Politics & Law (Beijing), South-Western University of Politics & Law (Chongqing), University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University (Canada), and National Taiwan University in Taipei. He also regularly acts as an expert witness or legal consultant for China-related legal cases.