Rule of Law: China and the World

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.10, 2015


Rule of Law: China and the World



Zeng Lingliang, Gu Zuxue and He Zhipeng


The fourth plenary session of the 18th National Congress of the CPC resolved to take an active part in the making of international rules, advance the handling of foreign-related economic and social affairs by law, and strengthen China’s discourse power and influence in international legal affairs. Since reform and opening to the outside world in 1978, Chinese economic development has achieved spectacular successes, and the country is playing an increasingly important role on the international stage, where its international prestige is rising constantly. At the same time, a profound change is also taking place in the world in which we are situated. How to adapt to existing international rules, how to take part in the making of international rules while safeguarding one’s own interests, and how to handle the relationship between the international and the domestic rule of law and thus contribute to peaceful world development are important issues that China must address seriously in this new era. In January 2015, Social Sciences in China Press and Renmin University of China cosponsored the first session of the Frontiers of Law Forum on the theme of “Theoretical Construction and Real-World Responses: Jurisprudential Research from the Perspective of the Rule of Law in China.” We have selected three conference essays on international law which discuss relations between the international and the Chinese rule of law as well as the benign interaction of the two. Zeng Lingliang, Professor at the Institute of International Law, Wuhan University, points out that the rule of law has international as well as domestic attributes, and can be divided into the two levels of the domestic rule of law and the international rule of law. It is not only inevitable but also necessary to use the thinking behind the international rule of law to build the rule of law in China. China should put into practice the idea of the international rule of law at the institutional and the governance level, and should at the same time participate in the UN’s rule of law activities and in international rule-making, extending its international discourse power and influence with regard to the rule of law. Gu Zuxue, Professor at the School of Law, Zhejiang Gongshang University, holds that in comparison with domestic law, international law can also be seen as a law for governing the country and thus as becoming an important instrument for the Party and government to run the country. The acceptance of part of international law as domestic law in accordance with the principle of sovereignty, thereby forwarding the rule of law in all respects, embodies the open thinking and international perspective of the construction of the rule of law in China. To put this proposition into concrete institutional practice is significant for improving the system of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, enhancing the international rule of law and advancing world peace. In order to protect China’s sovereignty, security and development from being damaged by international law when the latter is applied to govern the country, China should further improve its contract system in accordance with the demands of sound legislative arrangements. He Zhipeng, Professor at the School of Law of Jilin University, argues that China’s voice on the direction and progress of the international rule of law is an important part of highlighting Chinese concepts and standpoints in international relations, and is a major node in the interaction of the Chinese rule of law and the international rule of law. Not only does it constitute an important aspect of international relations and the system of international law; it is also a question that China cannot avoid as it develops toward being a country ruled by law. The international rule of law depends upon positive, comprehensive and efficient representation of the voices of all countries in the world, including China, in a way that leads to justice and reason and avoids rashness and partiality. The future prospects of Chinese development depend on extending China’s horizons and expanding its thinking by actively participating in the practice of the international rule of law, with a view to gaining support and opportunities.