Legal changes in preparation for the nation's impending entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) will move on a step Tuesday as legislators vote on amendments relating to foreign investment.
These revisions are based on pledges made by the Chinese government during negotiations for the nation's WTO accession and are widely seen as a move to boost foreign investors' confidence.
The amendments refer to Chinese-foreign joint ventures, Chinese-foreign cooperatives and solely owned foreign funded ventures in China.
The changes, being discussed by the National People's Congress, China's legislation body, will generally help foreign firms compete equally with Chinese companies.
Recent revisions on rules relating to foreign trade and economic cooperation were made in preparation for WTO entry, said Legislator Li Yining.
The legislation body should now review all domestic laws and rules relating to WTO and establish a transparent legal system as WTO accession requires such commitments by member governments, he added.
China has already finished revising a number of laws, including a patent law, to make them more compatible with WTO rules.
In addition, Li Guoguang, vice president of the Supreme People's Court, said Chinese courts will give priority to WTO rules over China's domestic laws when handling civil cases involving foreigners after the nation joins the organization, if the two laws are inconsistent.
In cases where Chinese law is consistent with WTO rules, Chinese laws will be applied, he added.
Li Guoguang added Chinese courts will guarantee equal protection to Chinese and foreign litigants.
"When dealing with cases relating to foreign parties, Chinese courts should act in line with Chinese laws and international or bilateral treaties the country has ratified," he said. "Foreign-funded enterprises, registered in China, should be treated as Chinese legal entities."
How Chinese courts should adapt after the nation joins WTO is among the major topics to be looked into by the Supreme People's Court this year.
It is now very important for judges to improve their proficiency, as they are expected to be dealing with a soaring number of economic disputes between Chinese and overseas litigants after China's WTO accession, according to Liu Hanfu of the National Judges College.
(China Daily 10/31/2000)