This work discusses a worldview and a methodology concerning ideological approaches by which Marxists can understand and transform the world, based on well-defined value truth, theory and philosophy. The work builds on the Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which highlights the following priorities to which XI Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era must adhere: putting the people first, maintaining self-confidence and self-reliance, upholding fundamental principles and breaking new ground, adopting a problem-oriented approach, applying system thinking, and maintaining a global vision. Furthermore, this work argues that these priorities should be applied to promote the rule of law in China’s new journey. As the starting points of analysis and understanding, the meta-theory and “six must-dos” follow the general principles of Marxism in interpreting and promoting socialist concepts, theory, law-based path and legal system in the New Era with Chinese characteristics. The metatheory and the “six must-dos” provide the logical foundations and fundamental compliance with XI Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law. Only by applying these “six must-dos” well can we understand and implement XI Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law, enhance the rationality, initiative, foresight and creativity of our work in comprehensively promoting the rule of law in China.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in 2012, XI Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has made a series of vital expositions on the promotion of modernization of the national governance system and capacity in line with the rule of law. The law is the most important tool for governing a country, and the rule of law supports the national governance process and capacity. Promoting the rule of law on all fronts is an essential requirement for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of the national governance system and capacity. Comprehensive law-based governance in all areas should be promoted to advance the modernization of national governance. Furthermore, law-based thinking and methods should be used to address difficulties and challenges faced in this modernization process.
As a system that is symbolic of contemporary China, the politicallegal system refers to the governance structure that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), law-enforcement and judicial agencies and various governance subjects jointly promote a peaceful China initiative and build a China under the rule of law. The historical evolution from the classical rites-law tradition to the modern politicallegal system reflects the consistent political focus and ideological exploration of China’s politicians and thinkers about the national rise and fall. The basic structure of the political-legal system can be divided into three principal groups of relationships, namely, the relationships between various law-enforcement and judicial agencies, the relationships between law-enforcement and judicial agencies and external bodies, and the relationships between the CPC and law-enforcement and judicial agencies. The normative principles concerning these three principal groups of relationships constitute the basic rules for the institutional design and practical operation of the political-legal system. The normative principles of the first group of relationships relate to self-integration, division of responsibilities, mutual cooperation and mutual restraint. The normative principles of the second group of relationships involve prioritizing social autonomy, primary-level governance and front-end governance. The normative principles of the third group of relationships are concerned with macro-leadership, centralized leadership and leadership under the rule of law. The analysis of these three sets of normative principles shows that China’s political-legal system not only follows the universal law and common mechanism of modern national governance, but also accumulates the local experience and unique wisdom of China’s governance.
XI Jinping, General Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China(CPC), made an important speech (Speech) on China’s path of advancement of human rights at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on February 25, 2022. Adherence to law-based protection of human rights and improvement of the legal mechanism of protection of human rights are important requirements for firmly following China’s path of human rights development. To improve the law-based mechanism of guarantee of human rights, the principles of respecting the people’s principal position and removing systematic and institutional barriers should be adhered to. The Constitution should be comprehensively implemented to promote record and review of new laws presented by legislatures, and to safeguard its authority. Innovations of human rights theory should be accelerated, along with faster construction of a human rights academic system, of a human rights academic system, and of a human rights discourse system, for meeting China’s needs in the new era. A sound legal mechanism of guarantee for human rights can better guarantee people’s better life. Furthermore, China should actively participate in global human rights governance and make appropriate contributions.
Whole-process people’s democracy profoundly reflects the features of socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics, and comprehensively and systematically reveals the concept of people’s democracy as providing important mechanisms of national and social governance. Based on the traditional democratic understanding of democracy as majority rule, whole-process people’s democracy emphasizes the universality and extensive range of democratic governance, but also has the natural value defects of democratic value itself. Therefore, we must organically combine democracy with the values of the rule of law and human rights, to build a well-defined governance order based on people’s democratic value. The whole process in the “whole-process people’s democracy” has really resolved the situation of people’s “absence” from many links of state power operation caused by over-emphasizing the election-democracy in the Western capitalist democratic system. Through the people’s extensive participation and effective supervision, the state power operation mechanism based on the fundamental political system, the people’s congress system, has been ensured to be always in the framework of people’s democratic governance. This effectively realizes the people’s sovereignty and is consistent with the declaration that “all power in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) belongs to the people,” stipulated in the Constitution of China. To improve the governance efficiency of whole-process people’s democracy in practice, we must bring it onto the rule of law, and use the rule of law philosophy and methods to reasonably and effectively resolve all kinds of theoretical and practical problems.
The concept of whole-process people’s democracy can be analyzed in terms of four the rule of law dimensions: continuous democracy, authentic democracy, extensive democracy and consultative democracy. Continuous democracy means that democracy provides a continuous and uninterrupted mechanism in terms of stage, time and space, which can ensure the continuous participation of the people in the management of state and social affairs. Authentic democracy is not only embodied creation of opportunities and conditions for the people to have more channels and methods of participation in the management of state and social affairs, but is also reflected in the process of democratic practice, including the protection of legitimate rights and interests of the minority. Extensive democracy means that the people are fully and deeply involved in the management of state and social affairs as well as their own affairs, from the operation of the state system to social life at the community level, and from pre-election to post-election. Consultative democracy is a means of realizing people’s democracy in the whole process. It applies consultation and seeks truth, aiming at building consensus. Moreover, it integrates various channels of consultation, and integrates democracy into all aspects of the work of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and government and in all aspects of the people’s political and social life.
The Chinese have created the concept of “humanity, reason and law” and developed a mentality around it. Since Confucianism was highly valued in the Han Dynasty, especially during the Han, Wei, and Six Dynasties periods, the exploration and analysis of “humanity and reason” in judicial practice has been widespread. This has led to the “filtering” and examination of laws based on “humanity and reason.” The objective aspect of “humanity” refers to the facts and circumstances of a case, extending to the latent emotions of the people involved. Confucian scholars proposed the principle of “judging a case based on its original sentiments and emotions.” The subjective aspect of “humanity” refers to sentiment and emotion, such as the “willingness” or “unwillingness” of both parties in a divorce case. The combination of the objective and subjective aspects of “humanity” together with their “reason” form the essence of “humanity, reason and law” and is the main content of this concept. “Humanity, reason and law” serves as both a principle of legal formulation and a method of application and interpretation. In modern times, SHEN Jiaben and XIE Juezai were pivotal in the development of “humanity, reason and law” mentality. SHEN Jiaben facilitated the transition from tradition to modernity, while XIE Juezai integrated ancient and excellent traditions into revolutionary legal practices, giving it a modern significance.
The fine family values incorporated into China’s Civil Code can effectively resolve the contradiction between the Marriage and Family Law’s specific socialization requirements and the relatively insufficient socialization they present after they have been incorporated into the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China. The fine family values clauses can reflect the ethics of Marriage and Family Law by introducing the family’s subject position in identity law, by specifying the scope and source of public order for judging behavior legitimacy in family relations, and by checking and balancing the tendency of turning Marriage and Family Law into Property Law. The clauses’ normative effect includes the organizational effect aimed at regulating family power, social power and state power, and the advisory effect for promoting moral education. However, its core lies in its behavior normative effect for guiding the judicial process and its adjudicative normative effect. In terms of specific application, we should focus on realizing the normative function of the fine family values clauses. This function includes proving the relationship between a guardian’s “lack of control and education” and external damage caused by family members, balancing family stability and personal freedom value, limiting seeking improper property interests by means of identity behavior and creating independent legal interests.
The educational function of law is to inherently and positively standardize and institutionalize core ideologies and values by directly affecting those ideologies, incorporating the outlook on values, ethics, life and honor and disgrace. The purpose of the Legislative Revision Plan of Integrating the Core Socialist Values into the Construction of Rule of Law, adopted by China’s central government in 2018, is to comprehensively strengthen the educational function of law under the guidance of the socialist core values within the entire socialist legal system, to consolidate a solid socialist ideological foundation, and to improve ideology and ethics across China. As a family is the cell of a society and the first classroom of life, family value is not only at the core of a family but also an essential part of a society. The legal system relating to family property, based on the family property system and spousal inheritance right, can rationally adjust the family property relationship; this system can combine, cultivate and carry forward socialist core values, guide and cultivate ethics, and promote family values, family culture and family traditions. Moreover, it can educate people to formulate an appropriate outlook on life, values and money and sense of honor. Today, the legal system of family property, such as the joint possession of marital incomes and the unlimited right to spousal inheritance, has shown a negative effect on educational function, since it was born during the period of the relative shortage of family property in the past. Therefore, the Civil Code should follow the socialist core values, and update and innovate the family property legal system and thereby provide an effective and efficient path to rectify the hitherto negative effect on educational function of the family property legal system.
In dealing with the problem of determining whether a debt should be a marital community debt and how such a debt should be collected, judges may have different value orientations regarding the tradeoff between the protection of marriage and family and the protection of the creditors, which needs to be studied based on empirical evidence. After the Judicial Interpretations  No. 2 (Fa Shi  No. 2) was enacted, we analyzed 863 judgments and motions of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the high people’s courts, and found that under the framework of existing normative regime, judges can still reach different value judgments based on different interpretative techniques. Judges differed in interpreting the terms of “common intent,” “family daily needs,” “common livelihood,” and “joint production and operation,” and they applied various debt collection rules. These facts indicate that sometimes judges have a complex value balancing process in marginal cases, and they have made different value judgment through extending or confining debt determination rules or debt collection rules. In some other cases, the different application of rules indicate that judges have interpreted those rules in a wrong way. By studying the judges’ existing value orientations and how judges made their decisions, we can evaluate whether existing rules for determining and collecting marital community debts have balanced conflicting values properly, and such facts can also build further consensus for the development of rules.
As an important accomplishment of self-governance exploration for the Chinese nation, the Chinese legal system has contributed significantly to human rule-of-law civilization, and should be reinterpreted from three dimensions: historical tradition, prevailing practice, and future development. Following the constant logic of rule-of-law development in China, Chinese rule-of-law modernization marks a new era of the Chinese legal system and is a specific embodiment of Chinese modernization in the domain of rule of law. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has explored the China’s socialist rule-of-law practice with Chinese characteristics, carried forward the essence of fine Chinese rule-of-law culture, and learned from others’ important rule of-law achievements, modernizing the rule of law for the needs of China. Furthermore, XI Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law, adapting to the times to promote the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, understands and grasps the basic laws of national governance, the laws of socialist rule-of-law building and the principles of law-based humane civilization development. The Chinese legal system has thereby been revised and expanded through linking history with reality, the international scene with the domestic one, and theory with practice. Surely, the updated Chinese legal system with China characteristics and with world significance will return to global centre-stage in rule-of-law development. Also, the updated Chinese legal system in the new era will embrace the revival of Chinese rule-of-law civilization, while the Chinese rule-of-law modernization will advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
1.HAO Tiechuan, 中华法系的创造性转化 (Creative Transformation in Chinese Legal System), 1 东方法学 (Oriental Law), 13–25 (2022). Abstract Through the analysis of 18 characteristic cases in the current Chinese rule of law system, it is pointed out that the creative transformation of the Chinese legal system is an important way to form a characteristic of the current Chinese rule of law. Through the analysis of 102 aspects of the Chinese legal system, it is pointed out that if feudalistic content is eliminated, other contents of the Chinese legal system can be creatively transformed. Therefore, to carry out the creative transformation of the Chinese legal system, we must transform from unconscious and subtle changes to conscious and rational choices. The reference standards for the creative transformation of the Chinese legal system are: First, the socialist core value system and socialist core values. Second, the modern rule of law thinking and basic values of the rule of law. Third, the relevant international human rights conventions that China has participated in. The operating methods of the creative transformation of the Chinese legal system mainly include basic inheritance, partial inheritance and new interpretations of old words. China is the only survivor of the four major ancient civilizations in the world. The Chinese legal system is the only one that has no religious background and is human-oriented. Therefore, realizing the creative transformation of the Chinese legal system is an unshirkable historical mission.
The 5000-years uninterrupted Chinese legal culture embodies the political and legal wisdom of the Chinese nation and is a source of pride for the Chinese nation. It has provided extremely rich resources and treasures for the construction of socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics. It has been inherited vertically, evolved intergenerationally and reserved continuously. Originating from both the historical legal system and from Marxist historical materialism, the Chinese legal system has profoundly influenced neighboring countries. The comprehensive governance of politics, law, and morality in ancient China, as reflected in the Rites of Zhou, a book of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC) on cultural ideology and political structure, provides an early work on the governance of ancient China. Chinese legal culture has remained progressive, and with the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, it is now important to promote Chinese legal culture for construction of the Chinese legal system in the new era.
Currently, research on the Chinese legal system is flourishing, and more and more issues are worthy of exploration. The Chinese legal system is unique among the five major legal systems in the world. It is the only ancient secular legal system, and the only ancient secular legal system to have been disseminated by non-coercive means. The openness of the Chinese legal system is a powerful proof that traditional Chinese law plays a role in importing and exporting legal policies and measures from and to other states. Indeed, these issues are important in research on the Chinese legal system, and a correct understanding of them can help to comprehensively understand traditional Chinese legal culture. It is essential to deepen the research on the Chinese legal system to contribute to its revival and to the inheritance of traditional Chinese legal culture. In addition to comprehensive discussions, it is also necessary to fill gaps and advance the research on the Chinese legal system.
The family system has always been effective in maintaining basic social order at the grassroots level in traditional Chinese society. At the beginning of the 20th century, Chinese society underwent tremendous changes, and traditional Chinese law was modernized; the family system became the most contested point of conflict between tradition and modernity, forcing lawmakers to be particularly cautious in making legal modernization. During the modern period, the political power struggles of various warlords led to chaos and disorder across the entire social legal system, yet legislative construction never ceased, and the legal modernization of traditional family systems became the focus of legislative endeavors for maintaining basic social order.
Legal practices from ancient to modern times have shown that law is closely related to language and writing. To compensate for the inherent uncertainty of language and writing, current laws use relatively sophisticated textual expression structures. Most of the lofty slogans and principles introduced from the West is nothing but a vain name and brings substantial harm. The concepts, systems, legislative techniques, and legal texts of traditional law have specific critical and reference significance for today’s legislation. It is especially significant for us to be vigilant about the reflection of traditional law on legal modesty.