In the second segment of the china.org.cn series on the Chinese legal system, Professor Li Lin, director of the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, discusses the framework of the country's "socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics".
According to Li, China's legal system can be represented as a pyramid, with the constitution on the top, laws in the middle and administrative regulations and rules at the bottom. Generally speaking, laws in China can be classified into public law, private law and social law, which is similar to the classifications used in Western countries, Li said.
Public law mainly governs the exercise of power by public bodies. Examples include constitutional law, administrative law, penal law and other laws concerning public order. Private law deals with the relationships between individuals or groups, including the contracts, torts and obligations. Social law involves both the state and individuals, and possesses features of both public law and private law. Relevant social laws include labor and employment promotion laws.
Furthermore, in the Chinese system, public, private and social laws can be further subdivided into seven divisions, which include Constitutional law, civil and commercial law, administrative law, economic law, social law, penal law, and litigation and non-litigation procedural law. The structure differs with that of the former Soviet Union, which had ten divisions.