Wang Jiafu, born oin February 24th, 1931, male and from the, Han ethnic groupnationality, is a native of Nanchong, Sichuan Province, and a member of the Communist Party of China. He is a member of the Presidium of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Academic Divisions. He was admitted to the department of law of Peking University in 1950. In 1955, he was admitted to study at the department of law of Saint Petersburg State University at public expense as a postgraduate student, and he graduated with awas vice-doctorate of law in 1959 after he graduated. He is a researcher and PhD student advisor of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, director of the Centre for Legal Ethics, director of the Academic Committee of Chinesea Law Society, honorary president of the Chinesea Society of Civil Law, and leaderheadman of the Law Appraisal Group of the National Social Science Fund. He used to bewas once the director of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a member of the Legal Committee of the 8th and 9th National People’s Congress, a member of the standing committee of the 9th National People’s Congress, and a vice-chairman of the China Law Society. His academic expertise is civil law, commercial law and theory of lawnomology. Since 1991, he has started to enjoy a special allowance awarded byof the State Council.
Major Academic Works
Legal Issues in Economic Development, China Social Science Press, 1982
Contact Law, China Social Science Press, 1986
Chinese Patent Law, Qunzhong Press, 1987
Foreign-Related Economic and Trade Laws in Modern China, Japanese Legal Culture Agency, 1990
Theory and Practice of Chinese Land Law, People's Daily Publishing Corporation, 1991
Essence of Economic Law, China Financial and Economic Publishing House, 1988
Modern Chinese Civil Law, Japanese Legal Culture Agency, 1990
Chinese Civil Law: Creditor's Rights of Civil Law, Law Press, 1991
Research of Legal Systems of Socialist Commodity Economy, Economic Science Press, 1992
Issues of building legal system of the socialist market economy, in Collection of Legal Lectures of Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, 1995
Issues of theory and practice of governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rules of law, in Collection of Legal Lectures of Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, 1996
Governing the country by law and developing democracy and the legal system, in World Trade Organization and Development of the Legal System of Chinese Market Economy, China Legal Science, 2000
Developing democracy, completing legal system and speeding up realizing the Four Modernizations, (co-authored), in Philosophical Researches, 1979
On strengthening the legal system of socialist economy(co-authored), in Chinese Journal of Law, 1983
On the legal system reform(co-authored), in Chinese Journal of Law, 1988
Devoting to Legal Research and Promoting the Construction of a Socialist Legal State
Jiang Xihui (Jiang for short below): Mr. Wang, it is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to learn from you on upright behavior and academic pursuits. As early as my university days, I had read your books and had known you were from Sichuan province, and in the 1950s you studied in the Department of Law of Peking University, then you were sent to study in Soviet Union, and after obtaining a vice-doctorate degree you returned to work at the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). As young scholars, we are interested in getting to know about your childhood and your past experiences.
Wang Jiafu (Wang for short below): Since I came to Beijing in 1950 and started working in the Institute of Law of CASS in 1959, almost 50 years have passed. I was born in the remote and beautiful countryside of Nanchong, Sichuan province. I was not born in a rich family. My father was a common clerk, who started as an apprentice in a branded textile store and rose all the way to become the manager of Chongqing branch store. In 1947, he was elbowed aside and lost his job, because the son of his boss graduated from the Economics Department of the Central University. Then he ran a small business with relatives for several years. My mother was a virtuous and kind-hearted housewife. Not having formal primary schools in my hometown, I studied in an old-fashioned private school at age eight for one year, and it was only when I was nine that I studied in a primary school in Nanchong County. In 1941, my mother and I left our hometown and moved to live with my father in Chongqing, where I finished my primary and secondary school. Since I studied in boarding schools from an early age, I had very short intervals of living together with my parents. Nevertheless, my father’s upright behavior and my mother’s kindness, as well as their educating me to be a kind, good and useful person has always been ingrained in my mind and has never been forgotten.
Jiang: I studied in the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing, and you have given lectures there. You may still remember the university close to the Gele Mountain and encircled by the martyr’s cemetery. As well as the picturesque scenery and outstanding people, there are also the Zhazidong Cave and Baigongguan Residence. It is a sacred place for the revolution. I still remember that every Tomb-sweeping Day we would go to the martyr’s cemetery to cherish the memory of the martyrs. Mr. Wang, I heard you took part in the students’ movement before the liberation.
Wang: Yes, I actively took in the students’ movement at that time. It was just the time of the Anti-Japanese War and the Liberation War when I studied in Chongqing. I saw with my own eyes the bombardment of Chongqing from Japanese planes and witnessed the brutal attack which caused 3000 people’s death. I was full of hatred for the Japanese invaders and felt deep sorrow for the weakness of China. I personally experienced the dictatorship of the KMT government after the triumph of the Anti-Japanese War. They launched the civil war, were corrupt, caused the financial crisis and exploited the masses, all of which added to my disappointment with the society at that time. I clearly remember the big fire in Chongqing on September 2nd, 1948 and it was not under control until it spread to the house next door to my home. We were extremely frightened. But just at that moment, my father was taken away by the KMT agents with their guns under the accusation of arson, which was presumed to be under the orders of the Yan’an revolutionary base, and my father was blackmailed by the KMT agents. Being out of money, we had to borrow money to ransom my father. At that time I hated the KMT government even more deeply. As every conscientious and hot-blooded youngster I was yearning for democracy, freedom, peace and was expecting the rebirth of China. Therefore, I actively took part in the “Anti-Hunger, Anti-Civil war and Anti-Persecution” demonstration and sang the revolutionary songs coming from Liberated Areas like “The sky of Liberated Areas is Always Bright” with my schoolmates in the campus. In the spring of 1949, together with another schoolmate, we were both dismissed from school as punishment because we were activists for the students’ movement. And other schools in Chongqing were informed not to accept us. At last it was due to the help of my father’s friends in the Minsheng Shipping Company that we were able to study at the JianShan Middle School, in the Beibei district of Chongqing, for a short while. On the liberation of Chongqing on October 21st, 1949, my schoolmate and I packed our luggage in high spirits, took a wooden boat down the Jialing River, and returned to Gangyi Middle School from which we had been expelled to continue our study.
Jiang: You once studied in Peking University, and then were sent to study in Soviet Union. You were one of the first groups of students studying abroad after the founding of People’s Republic of China. I also graduated with a doctoral degree from Peking University. According to the current saying I should call you a “senior schoolmate”. As for my generation, your books accompanied our growth and you also witnessed our growth. Would you please tell us about your academic life of this period?
Wang: I graduated from high school in 1950. My schoolmates and I were full of love for the newly-born China and full of hope for the future of our country, and were eager to study in Beijing, the political centre of China, hoping that we would later on serve the people better. Then 16 of us went together to start our journey and to take exams and study in Beijing. On our arrival in Beijing, we were taken good care of by a fellow-villager of mine and party member who studied in the Chinese department of Peking University. He accommodated us in the students’ dormitory, helped us to get access to meal tickets and provided excellent conditions for our preparation for the exams. I was luckily admitted to the Department of Law of Peking University. I attended the lectures on New Democracy given by Professor Qian Duansheng, the dean of the Department of Law of Peking University at that time. I also attended the lectures on Constitution given by Zhang Zhirang, the editor-in-chief of the New Construction magazine at that time. I took part in the solemn and impressive ceremony to welcome Mr. Ma Yinchu to be the president of Peking University in the Min Zhu(Democratic) Square…All the events of my school days are still fresh in my memory. In August, 1951, I accompanied the Land Reform Group of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which consisted of the faculties and students of the Law Schools of Peking University, Tsinghua University, Yenching University and Fu Jen Catholic University, as well as the staff of the cultural institutions of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, to engage in land reform in Liucheng County, Guangxi province. There were two phases of land reform. In the first phase, I was a headman and took charge of the land reform affairs in a village; and in the second phase I was a vice-leader and assisted a leader to do the jobs in a town. These experiences deepened my understanding of Chinese society, especially the situation of rural areas, and enhanced my competence to do my job for the people. The land reform ended in July, 1952 and I came back to school with the group. In the meantime, the government conducted a large-scale adjustment to merge the law departments of Peking University, Tsinghua University, Yenching University, Fu Jen Catholic University and Zhejiang University to establish the Beijing Institute of Political Science and Law (China University of Political Science and Law). More than 20 schoolmates of ours were assigned to build up the new university. I was assigned to do assistant teaching in the Teaching and Research Office of the university and graduated in August, 1953. In the first half of 1954, I was recommended by the university to take the postgraduate examination and was admitted to study in Soviet Union. After a year’s study of Russian and philosophy in the Reserve Division for studying in the Soviet Union in the Peking Language College of Russian (which is now the Beijing Foreign Studies University), I entered the law department of Leningrad University, Soviet Union (now named the St. Petersburg State University in Russia) in August 1955 and studied under the supervision of a prestigious expert of civil law, the Professor Osage Joffe, for my vice-doctorate degree. Every Chinese student sent to the Soviet Union was carefully prepared with supplies by the Chinese government, just like what parents did for their kids. And every one of us was subsidized with 700 rubles per month by the university, which provided favorable conditions for us to study whole-heartedly. All of us were deeply moved by what the government had done for us. I read plenty of books on civil war, politics, philosophy and so on, finished my dissertation on schedule, successfully passed the doctoral defense and gained my vice-doctorate degree in law in Soviet Union in June, 1959. In the same month, along with comrade Zhang Zhonglin who had already finished his study, we were on the way back to China with the profound friendship of the Russian people and the strong desire to sever our motherland.
Jiang: You have worked in this institution since the 1950s, for almost half a century. Over the past 50 years, you have experienced the “Cultural Revolution”, the overthrow of “the Gang of Four” and the reform and opening up policy, and you have been a researcher and the director of the institution and have given lectures in the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Mr. Wang, I wonder what your deepest understanding of this half a century is?
Wang: The Institute of Law was formally founded in 1958 in accordance with the advice of Dong Biwu, a legal expert of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to strengthen the legal system. I was assigned to work in the Institute of Law in 1959 and thereafter I was trained and taken good care of by the forerunners like Zhang Youyu, Zhou Xinmin, Han Youtong, etc. They allowed me to take part in collective projects one after another, which helped foster my team-work spirit to research, discuss and create with my colleagues in groups. They taught me to focus my work on the main tasks of the country and the Party, and to conduct research based on Chinese practical needs, which urged me to constantly be concerned about the great and practical issues our country faced. They taught me to think independently. Mr. Zhang once told me: “You must not copy doctrines, you don’t deserve any royalties even if you copy those of chainman Mao”, which contributed to forming my habit of thinking and creating. They taught me that all viewpoints should have a basis, which cultivated my serious attitude in reading, researching and studying. I finished my study on the national grant. I was brought up by the state and the people with their painstaking care, and was trained to make progress by CASS (which was named the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) before 1977) and the Institute of Law. My deepest understanding is that a man should always bear in mind gratitude, requital and devotion. Only with gratitude, can we keep the passion and make constant progress through leaders and comrades who support and help us; only with gratitude, can we strengthen the awareness of potential danger and research the serious issues of the future and fate of the state; only with gratitude, can we be courageous to tackle real and tough problems and stick to the truth; only with gratitude, can we understand ourselves correctly regardless of what ups and downs there may be in life and career, and treat them as normal, keep justice, be devoted to pursuing our career and constantly move forward steadily and confidently in the right direction along with the state and the people. What I thought at that time was that our motherland ahd brought us up, and that we had to work actively for the Institute of Law and for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and contribute to the state as much as possible.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, the scholars of your generation encountered an age of “regarding class struggle as the guiding principle” when the political movements were in session, legal nihilism was rampant, legal research was ignored and the development of the rule of law was hindered. What is your opinion of such a prolonged waste of your time?
Wang: Perhaps it was a kind of experience! I entered the Institute of Law in 1959 when legal nihilism was pervasive. My leader told me that the civil law I learned was of little use at the moment, and assigned me to work in the legal theory group. Thereafter I engaged in the research of legal theory for a dozen years. Even under the circumstance of pervasive ignorance of the law, all the colleagues, young and old, spared no efforts to do legal research actively centered on the overall situation of China. No more than four to five years since I worked in the institution, I had participated in writing about 5 books. But under the circumstances of that time, most of the works were not published, not even the Fundamental Issues of Legal Science, which was valued by the editorial office of humanities textbooks of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and was revised according to its instructions. Instead of losing hearts, we collected the printed works as precious academic archives and continued academic research. We worked in the factories and rural areas many times, participated in various political movements and carried out research in practical sectors. The practical activities not only helped us understand the real situation of Chinese workers and farmers more directly, realize the conditions and reality of Chinese society more deeply, sense the sufferings and needs of the people more profoundly, but they also honed my character and academic conscience. In the course of participating in the "Four Clean-ups" movement, I realized deeply that if the problems of education, discipline, violation and crimes were tangled up and were tackled through mass movement, it would be difficult to reach anticipated goals, but only mess up the problems. I began to realize tje importance of including socialist development in the legal system and how great the responsibility was as a worker of legal science.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, in 1978 the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee brought order out of chaos. The spring breeze of the reform and opening up policy brought a scene of vitality wherever it blew. The legal research and the development of the rule of law also ushered in their spring. The Chinese Academy of Social Science had just been established from the former Philosophy and Social Science Divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Institute of Law had unprecedented opportunities for development, and many scholars applauded the reform and opening up policy. I think you also have a profound understanding of that.
Wang: The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was established from the Philosophy and Social Science Divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the prestigious theorist Hu Qiaomu was the first president. This year is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of CASS. As a senior scholar, I am really very happy. The establishment of the reform and opening up policy brought spring for philosophy and the social science, and created unprecedented opportunities for the development of CASS. At that time the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party frequently asked CASS for intellectual support. And exciting news was heard everyday. I still remember the events related to the Institution of Law and my personal experiences. In the first half of 1978, under the leadership of Mr. Han Youtong the leader of the Institution, the first national forum of legal systems was held in the hall of the Ministry of Public Security. Most famous legal scholars in Beijing attended the forum. This forum for the first time emancipated the mind in Chinese legal science, provided the ideology of democracy and the legal system as well as theoretical support for the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. In 1978 the Central Committee readjusted the periodical office of Red Flag. The comrades Wu Jianmin, Zhang Zhonglin, etc. from the Institute of Law and other comrades from other institutions of the CASS were chosen to help work for this periodical office. In the end of 1978, together with the comrades of other institutions of the CASS, I attended the Party’s theory discussion meeting, and carefully listened to and studied the report of adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles given by Deng Xiaoping. In 1979, according to the Central Committee the four comrades Wu Jianfan, Liu Hainian, OuYang tao and Zhang Zushen participated in the trial of “the counter-revolutionary cliques of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing”. Relying on the pool of wisdom of our institution, they proposed “strictly making a clear distinction between faults and crimes” and “on the application of a new criminal law”, which was accepted by the Central Committee and played an active role in the course of the trial. Liu Hainian was additionally appointed as an assistant procurator and participated in drafting the indictment of “the counter-revolutionary cliques of Lin Biao”. From 1978 to 1979, the comrades of the Institution of law, like Gao Xijiang, Wang Shuwen, Wu Jianfan, Zhang Zhonglin, Xu Yichu, etc. took part in the revising and drafting of various laws such as the criminal law, the criminal procedure law, the electoral law of the National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at all levels, the organic law of the local people's congresses and people's governments at all levels, the organic law of the court, etc. In 1979 I participated in the drafting of the government work report of the Second Session of the Fifth National People's Congress. Mr. Teng Wensheng and I were responsible for the part on the development of democracy and the legal system. The report proposed developing socialist democracy and strengthening the socialist legal system, as well as establishing public servant consciousness and opposing prerogative thoughts. In the second half of 1979, Liu Hainian, Li Buyun and I were invited to the drafting of the Central No. 64 document, namely the “Orders of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Ensuring the Implementation of the Criminal Law and the Criminal Procedure Law”. The document clearly stated the proposition of the rule of law, emphasized strengthening and improving the Party's leadership, required the courts to implement judicial power independently by law and annulled the system of examining and approving cases by the local party committees. In November, 1980, Liu Hainian, Li Buyun and I co-authored an article entitled The Milestone of Socialist Democracy and the Legal System----Comment on the Trial of the Counter-Revolutionary Cliques of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, and after finalization by Liu Jianqing it was published in the front page of the People Daily as a special commentary on December 22nd, 1980. The publication received a good response at home and abroad. In 1982 the comrades of the Institution of Law contributed to the amendment of this year’s Constitution. Mr. Zhang Youyu, the senior director of the Institute of Law, was the deputy secretary. Mr. Wang Shuwen was a member of staff of the secretariat of the Constitution Amending Committee, and the constitution office of our institute had collated a large number of data for the drafting of the Constitution. All the events fully proved that the comrades of the institute shared a common fate with the country and the people, devoted themselves to the reform and opening up and made every effort to contribute to the development of democracy and the legal system for the prosperity of the state and the happiness of the people.
Jiang: 2008 was the 30th anniversary of the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Ever since this Plenum, the Chinese legal field ushered in invaluable opportunities for its development. I remember you had researched democracy and legal systems earlier, and had proposed early on to strengthen the socialist legal system and develop socialist democracy. Nowadays, some of your opinions are of great academic value and practical significance, for instance the ones on developing democracy, completing the legal system, emphasizing governing the country by law, making a clear distinction between democracy, the legal system, absolutism and anarchy, democracy and the legal system being inviolable, avoiding confrontation between class struggle and the legal system, the party committee having to abide by the law etc…
Wang: Around the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, four comrades and I went to Shanxi, Hubei, Sichuan provinces and Chongqing for a research on democracy and the legal system. The CASS was of great prestige, and was valued by the host institutions who gave much valuable advice and suggestions. After our return, Mr. Han Youtong took me to the research office of the State Council for me to report to relevant comrades on what I learned from the research. This report mainly mentioned the problems which were urgently to be solved, such as forbidding illegal imprisonment, inquisition by torture and scuffles, damage and plunder, abolishing presumption of guilt and implementing the presumption of innocence principle, protecting the defendant's right to defense, implementing the principle of protecting the rights of the defendant; strengthening and improving the Party’s leadership of the courts and ensuring open, just and independent implementation of judicial power . In 1979, Xia Shuhua and I published an article entitled “Developing democracy, completing the legal system and speeding up the realization the Four Modernizations” in the academic journal Philosophical Researches. It pointed out that proletarian dictatorship had to complete the legal system, to straighten up the guiding principle of building the legal system and to realize the importance of governing the country by law. It also suggested the following points: that democracy should be institutionalized and codified, and the institutions and laws should be democratized, clear boundaries should be drawn between democracy, the legal system and absolutism and anarchy, democracy and legal systems are inviolable, the long-existing man-ruled ideology within the Party and the confrontation between class struggle and legal system should be overcome, the Party Committee and the conflicts within the Party had to abide by the law, and those who violated democracy and the legal system had to be resolutely punished. These opinions were put forward at the beginning of the emancipation of the mind, and relied on our trust of the Party and profound reflection on the lessons from the "cultural revolution”.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, you are one of the academic leaders of the older generation in the Chinese legal field, and have greatly contributed to Chinese legal theories. I have learned that when you were the director of the institution in the beginning of 1989, you convened an Academic Conference on Chinese Legal Reform in the Institution of Law to celebrate the 10th anniversary of resuming the Chinese Journal of Law. That conference impressed the Chinese legal field deeply and has been praised continuously until now. Would you like to say something about it?
Wang: The conference you mentioned was really a great meeting in the legal field. It was well attended because the theme of the conference attracted wide attention in the academic world. Many comrades of our institution as well as Mr. Zhang Youyu and Wang Zhongfang attended that conference. The conference was chaired by Mr. Liu Hainian and many important opinions were expressed for promoting Chinese legal reform and the development of the rule of law. We were very happy that the Institution of Law provided an opportunity to communicate and discuss the issues in Chinese legal reform.
Jiang: Just before this interview, I went to the library to make a copy of the article “The speech summary of the Academic Conference on Chinese Legal Reform” published in the second issue of the Chinese Journal of Law in 1989. With a rich and extensive content, this article explored the concepts, necessities and goals of legal reform, and a series of reforms of the legal system of legislation, administration, judicial system, civil law, economic law, criminal law, procedural law and prison law, etc… Today, many of these suggestions and viewpoints are constantly in practice and promotion.
Wang: I think we had just raised questions, but hadn’t provided satisfiying solutions. But after the academic conference attended by the top scholars in Chinese legal science, Chinese legal reform had been systematically designed in theory. In addition to what you mentioned of the conference, other issues such as the legal system being brought into the public, the ideology of the rule of law being renewed, legal reforms being gradually carried out in accordance with reality, were also stated.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, when we sought for this speech’s summary, we found out that an article entitled “On legal system reform” and co-authored by Liu Hainian, Li Buyun and you, was also published in the same journal Chinese Journal of Law. Please talk about this article.
Wang: This article was co-authored by Liu Hainian, Li Buyun and I after the “Academic Conference of Chinese Legal Reform” mentioned just now. It analyzed the historical inevitability of Chinese legal reform, proposed that the principle of supreme of law should be established for legal reform, a complete legal system should be established, the reform should adapt to the needs of the development of social productivity , it should guarantee the rights and freedom of the citizens, and the activities of the Party should be within the range of the Constitution and laws, so as to gradually achieve the goal of a state with a highly developed democracy and the rule of law. This article also proposed to renew the conception of laws, stop regarding laws only as tools for class struggle, discard the notion of obligation outweighing authority, the officials outweighing the citizens and the state outweighing the individual, change man-made ideology and establish the ideology of the rule of law.
Jiang: China has made great changes since the reform and opening up and the rule of law has been constantly promoted. We would like to know your opinion on the legal reform.
Wang: I have always been concerned and thinking about the issues of legal reform. Chinese legal reform has accompanied the reform of the Chinese economic, political, cultural and social system and has been a profound revolution and an extensive innovation of the legal system. It regards the “people-oriented” Scientific Outlook on Development as the guidance, respecting and protecting human rights as the purpose, institutionalizing and codifying democracy as the basis, building the legal system of the socialist market economy as the responsibility, proceeding from Chinese realities and drawing on the achievements of legal civilization as the principle and governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law as the aim. Only by gradually deepening the legal reform, can the Chinese legal system reflect the people’s will, reflect the law of social development and build socialism better, draw on the achievements of human civilization, represent the spirit of the times and provide important institutional guarantees for the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics
Jiang: You studied civil law in the Soviet Union, and engaged in research on legal theory for more the 10 years since you turned back to China. When did you restart your research on civil law and economic law?
Wang: After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee in 1978, the central work of the state shifted from the class struggle to economic development. I was assigned by the leaders to organize a research office for civil law and economic law in the institution, and to take charge of it. It should be said that our institution was the first national academic institution that engaged in research of civil law and economic law after the reform and opening up policy. It is still fresh in my memory that in 1980, we pooled all our wisdom to write and publish the book Legal Issues in Economic Development. This book involves the legal status of economic organizations, the property ownership system, the legal system of contracts, the legal relationship of labor, legal systems of investment and infrastructure, material supply, developing science and technology, environmental protection, economic judicature and economic arbitration., It covered the most important legal systems of economic development of the state and was the first masterpiece concerning legal issues in economic development. The publishing of this book attracted much attention in the economic field and among the governmental administrative department of economy, and some of the viewpoints of this book were adopted by policymakers, legislatures and judicial organs to support the reform and opening up from the legal perspectives. Many comrades of the research office of civil law and economic law soon became forerunners in economic law, intellectual property law, environmental law, science and technology law, company law, land law, foreign-related economic law, etc.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, the research office of the civil law and economic law you established was an important base for the research of domestic civil law and economic law at that time. Nowadays, it has retained a leading status among the same institutions. It has fostered many scholars who research Chinese civil and commercial law and economic law, something inseparable from the efforts you and your comrades made. As far as I know, the initiation of the third drafting of civil law related to the Institution of Law. Please talk about it.
Wang: Around the end of 1978, the Institution of Law received a letter sent by Mr. Hu Qiaomu, in which a comrade-in-charge suggested that the Central Committee not enact civil law. Mr. Hu Qiaomu asked us to research whether or not it was needed to enact civil law. On receiving the task, we immediately organized careful research and discussion and unanimously agreed that the suggestion was incorrect, and that civil law was urgently needed in China. We also wrote a report on suggestions for enacting civil law. This report not only proved the necessity of civil law, but also proposed the fundamental assumptions of enacting civil law. It was then adopted by the Central Committee and was approved to be co-drafted by the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Institute of Law. A leading group for the trial draft of civil law was organized with Mr. Yang Xiufeng as the group leader and Mr. Tao Xijin as the standing assistant group leader (the director of the Institute of Law Mr. Sun Yaming also took part in the leadership), and outstanding scholars of civil law were gathered to start the third drafting of the civil law. A number of comrades in our institution also took part in the work. The trial drafting lasted for three months with four revisions. Although no bill was formally shaped due to the immature social conditions at that time, it prepared for the civil legislation later on. Our institution attached much importance to domestic research and to examining various types of foreign countries, and paid attention to the data collection and collation as well as the trends of academic research. In the mid-1980s, we participated in the epoch-making work of drafting The General Principles of Civil Law, chaired by Mr. Peng Zhen, and we played active roles. Then the research office of civil law was taken over by Mr. Liang Huixing, and it exerted an important impact on enacting the contract law and the guaranty law in China, and provided an expert proposal draft for the drafting of the property law and civil law. Nowadays, the research office of civil law is in the charge of Mr. Sun Xianzhong and is still active at the forefront of civil legislation, playing an important role in drafting property laws and taking the lead in basic theoretical research on civil law. The research office of commercial law greatly contributed to the state commercial legislation in the charge of Mr. Wang Baoshu, Chen Su and Zou Hailin successively. The economic office independently separated from the research office of civil law is currently under the leadership of Mr. Wang Xiaoye, and consistently carries out beneficial work and exerts great social effects.
Jiang: In the beginning of the eighties, there was a controversy centered on the civil law and economic law, involving the status of the traditional civil law, commercial law and whether or not economic law was an independent legal sector, etc. You were one of the main participants then. When we evaluate that controversy, we should probably say without that controversy the maturity of today’s civil law and economic law would never have been reached.
Wang: In the beginning of the eighties, the state entered a new era of focusing on economic development, when the reform towards a market-oriented economic system had only begun and the ideology of the planned economy still took a dominant place. I organized the translation of General Introduction of Economic Law written by Laptev, a book whose theory of Comprehensive Economic Law proposed by the author was not dominant in the Soviet Union, but drew attention in the Chinese legal field. In the understanding of the status of two main laws that closely relate to economic issues, namely civil law and economic law, there were significant divergences within the legal field. These differences were quite understandable. The Institute of Law organized conferences many times to friendly, equally, rationally and exploratively exchange ideas, communicate on issues and finally address the problems, scientifically distinguish the respective range of adjustment, means of adjustment and social functions of civil law and economic law, lay a scientific foundation and play an active role for the healthy development of these two important laws and for the prosperity of the two legal branches. Through open-mindedness, mutual respect and rational exploration, the academic conferences enhanced cooperation and unity among scholars, and created an academic atmosphere suitable for theoretical discussion and scientific spirit. We always advocated that civil law and economic law should be developed side by side to serve the economic development of the state. In 1983, Mr. Wang Shubao and I co-authored an article on strengthening the development of the legal system of the socialist economy. In 2001 I called for enacting civil law, improving the system of commercial law and completing economic law in the article WTO and Issues on the Development of the Legal System of the Socialist Market Economy.
Jiang: Since the state decided to practice a socialist market economy in 1992, the socialist market economy has thrived and the legal system has been progressing. We cannot help remembering that in the year 1995 you gave a legal lecture entitled The Issues of the Development of the Legal System of the Socialist Market Economy for the leaders of the Central Committee in Huairentang, in Zhongnanhai, Beijing. I once saw two of your pictures of that lecture. Please talk about it.
Wang: It is an unprecedented creation to fuse socialism and a market economy, and it is a brand new cause to build a legal system for a socialist market economy. In the beginning of 1995, I received the task of giving a legal lecture on this topic to the leaders of the Central Committee on January, 20th. Since the Institute of Law and I myself had researched and been concerned with this issue for many years, I completed the task successfully with the help of my colleagues in the research group. In the lecture, I defined a socialist market economy as consisting of a basic economic system in which public ownership was dominant and diverse forms of ownership developed side by side. I advocated for the nature of the socialist market economy to be efficient, competitive, fair and commonly prosperous, and clearly proposed that the market economy should be a law-ruled economy. I also emphasized that in the process of the transition to a socialist market economic system, it is of great significance to develop and complete the legal system of the socialist market economy to avoid power stemming from the the market, power-for-money deals or combining the drawbacks and negative aspects of a planned economy and a market economy. Starting from four aspects of the legal system of the socialist market economy, a profound legal reform, the theoretical issues to be solved to build the legal system of the socialist market economy, the legal system to be completed to adapt to the needs of the development of the socialist market economy, and completing the legal system of the socialist market economy, I discussed the issues of developing the legal system of the socialist market economy and proposed a series of suggestions. The leaders who attended the lecture expressed their interest because of its practical bent. Over the lectures there were many exchanges and discussions with a very lively and active atmosphere, and the lecture was quite unforgettable. I was pleased that those proposals were agreed with and valued by the leaders due to the constant co-efforts of the scholars in the legal field. In these years, the development of the legal system of the socialist market economy has made great progress under the correct guidance of the Party’s principles and policies, as well as the endeavor of the legal field. But at thise new stage of development and based on the new strategic thought of national economic and social development, it is necessary to further improve the macro-control legislation to guarantee the coordinative and scientific development of the socialist market economy, further complete the legislation for protecting intellectual property, promoting independent technological innovation and enhancing integrated economic competition, further strengthening the legislation of energy saving, emissions reduction and ecological protection, further completing the social legislation for upholding social justice and equity, improving the social security system, protecting the rights of the workers and weak groups and further complete the legislation of state-owned natural resources, state-owned stock rights and state-owned financial assets management to ensure a good and fast development of the socialist market economy.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, we know you gave lectures in Zhongnanhai for two times. On February 8th, 1996 you gave a second legal lecture to the leaders of the Central Committee on “Theoretical and Practical Issues of Governing the Country by Law and Building a Socialist Country under the Rule of Law”. After that lecture, President Jiang Zemin delivered an important speech, in which he emphasized it was an important component of the Deng Xiaoping Theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics to strengthen the development of a socialist system of laws and govern the country by law, and a fundamental policy for the Party and the state to administrate the state and social affairs. Practicing and upholding governing the country by law is of great significance to promote a sustained, fast and healthy economic development, and safeguard the long-term peace and stability of the state. Would you please talk about that lecture?
Wang: It is with the important issue of governing the country through law and building a socialist country under the rule of law that the Institute of Law and the legal field have long been concerned. When the party group of the Ministry of Justice asked me to give a lecture on “Theoretical and Practical Issues of Governing the Country by Law and Building a Socialist Country under the Rule of Law” to the leaders of the Central Committee, it was very close to the fixed date of the lecture. Based on my long-term research of this issue and with the great help of Mr. Liu Hainian, Xiao Xianfu, Liu Han, Liang Huixing, etc., I carefully prepared for the lecture in a very short time, successfully passed the trial lecture and completed the task on schedule. In this lecture I clearly pointed out that in the up-coming crucial moment of the change of century, the issues of how to govern the country by law and build a socialist country under the rule of law proposed by the Central Committee were of great realistic and far-reaching historical significance. Centering on four aspects of governing the country through law and building a socialist country under the rule of law which is a fundamental principle for the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the essential conditions, the gradual historic development as well as strengthening and improving the leadership of the Party to strive for governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law , I discussed the significance, essential conditions, correct ideology, institutional construction and political guarantee under the leadership of the Party of governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law. I communicated and exchanged ideas with those leaders who attended the lecture on the most important principles and systems for governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law, and on the most important theoretical and practical issues that we hoped policymakers to understand and be concerned with. I received an active response, which was a great pleasure for me. I attentively listened to the important speech of the importance of governing the country by law given by Jiang Zemin after my lecture, and experienced the process of including the “governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law” in the 15th CPC National Congress report. I participated in the examination and approval of the amendment to the Constitution in 1992, witnessed the historic moment of the fundamental principle of “implementing governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law” being recognized. This great county has unswervingly been set on the road of the rule of law. My colleagues and I were pleased and inspired. Over the past years, the CPC Central Committee centered on Hu Jintao, the General Secretary, has proposed new theories and major strategic thoughts on administration by law, a people-oriented Scientific Outlook on Development and building a harmonious socialist society, which poured new energy into the fundamental principle of governing the country by law. I am convinced that as long as we constantly further realize the importance and further advance the consciousness and level and strengthen the leadership of the Party for governing the country by law we are bound to make greater achievements in the cause of governing the country by law and building a socialist country under the rule of law. Since the mid-1990s, Mr. Wu Jianfan, Li Buyun, Liu Han, Zheng Chengsi, Xia Yong, Liang Huixing, Li Lin, Wang Xiaoye and others in the Institute of Law have given lectures on important legal issues to the CPC Central Committee and the NPC Standing Committee. This is an important means by which the scholars apply their academic achievements to provide intellectual support for the decision of the Party and the state. The opportunities like the ones the Institute of Law enjoyed owe to their theoretical reserve on the research of major and realistic issues and the enthusiastic, responsible leadership of Mr. Liu Hainian. It is a good tradition for research groups to exert as think-tanks and it should be encouraged.
Jiang: Human rights is one of the issues that is most closely related to the overwhelming majority of the people and receives the most universal concern of the people. The Institute of Law has long taken the leading position in human rights study in China, and it can be said that the study of human rights is the strong point of the Institute of Law. At present, Mr. Liu Hainian and you are the directors of the Centre for Human Rights, CASS. Pleased introduce the study of human rights in the Institute of Law.
Wang: It is a lofty ideal of mankind to fully realize human rights. The Party and the state always attach importance to the respect and protection of human rights. The Constitution extensively prescribes the rights and freedom of the citizens. To promote the development of socialist human rights and cope with the international struggles of human rights, the Institute of Law initiated research on human rights at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, and published a series of important achievements. In 1991, having been assigned by the Central Committee to the task of studying theoretical issues on human rights, and following the instructions of the director Hu Shen, the Institute of Law formally placed the research on human rights as the key research field and established the Centre for Human Rights, CASS in 1992. In 1991 the first national human rights seminar proposed for the first time the concept of Marxist human rights. In the same year Mr. Liu Hainian and I respectively led groups to North America, Northwestern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia to examine the human rights systems of representative countries and the problems facing those countries, and we wrote a series of important reports. Also in the same year, on commission of the research office of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, Mr. Liu Han, Wang Dexiang and I prepared a reference report on democracy, freedom and human rights for Jiang Zemin’s visit to the Soviet Union. We concentrated on the research of major theoretical issues concerning universality and particularity of human rights, individual human rights and collective human rights, human rights and sovereignty, human rights and the rule of law, and we studied the signing, ratification and implementation of the two United Nations international human rights pacts, and submitted “Theoretical Countermeasures and Suggestions for China Taking Part in the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993”, “Research Report of Joining in International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, “Research Report of Joining in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, and “Advices and Suggestions of Merger and Cut Death Penalty in the Criminal Law”. Many comrades of the Institute of Law were invited to take part in the Sino-US, Sino-Australia and Sino-EU human-rights dialogues, and chaired the Sino-EU human rights network on the commission of the Foreign Ministry. The Institute of Law also established friendly and long-term cooperative relations with the human rights institutions of many countries worldwide, held international human rights conferences many times and strengthened communication and understanding of this field among the scholars from various countries. The Institute of Law also published a series of academic works on human rights, and edited the first Chinese Encyclopedia of Human Rights. In 2005 Mr. Liu Hainian left for Laos to give lectures on human rights to the Party and government of Laos on the commission of the International Department of the Foreign Ministry. What pleased me most is that after constant efforts lasting more than ten years, a large number of outstanding scholars in our institution formed a vigorous academic group for human rights, and among them there are famous and senior scholars such as Liu Hainian, Lli Nanlai, Li Buyun and Wang Keju, as well as nationally and internationally prestigious younger scholars like Xia Yong, Xin Chunying, Hu Yunteng, Li Lin, Chen Zexian, Huang Lie, Qu Xuewu, Mo Jihong, Zhu Xiaoqing and Xiong Qiuhong. I sincerely hope the cause of human rights research of the Institute of Law will be more prosperous under the charge of the new leaders.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, the NPC passed the Property Law of the Peoples Republic of China with the majority of votes this March. This is an event in developing a socialist legal system. As an expert who participated in the drafting of the General Principles of Civil Law and Civil Law, what is your opinion?
Wang: The property law is a basic law that adjusts property relations arising from ascription and exclusive utilization of belongings of equal parties and is a fundamental law that lays a solid legal foundation for the people’s livelihood. In the past we only valued the system of ownership while ignoring the rights of ownership, and even smashed the concept of real rights, which led to a severe destruction of productivity. Since the reform and opening up, one of the profound changes in our institution was the initial establishment of a Chinese real rights system. It was this system that aroused the enthusiasm of millions of people to create, accumulate and cherish wealth, and created economic miracles that shook the world over a short period, lifted Chinese people out of poverty and led them on the path of prosperity. The Fifth Session of the 10th National People's Congress passed the property law and scientifically summarized, fully completed and holistically improved the existing imperfect real rights system. The property law reflected the will of all the people, the law of social development, the law of building socialism and the common worldwide property law, and it was full of the spirit of the times and possessed Chinese characteristics. The birth of the property law was a crucial step to promote the formation of a Chinese socialist legal system and an important measure to implement building and governing the country by law, and building a socialist country under the rule of law. It is of great significance to enact the property law and complete the socialist legal system of property law with Chinese characteristics. It is favorable to uphold and improve the basic economic system at the primary stage of socialism, to consolidate and develop the public economy and to support, encourage and guide the non-public economy unswervingly. It is favorable to equally protect the property of the state, the collective and individual and to promote the fair, healthy and orderly development of the socialist market economy. It is favorable to protect legitimate private property, to lay a solid foundation to constantly improve people's material and cultural life and to provide the material conditions for realizing the right to wealthy, decent and dignified subsistence as well as the free and all-round rights of development for all the people. It is favorable to greatly inspire the motivation and exhaustive energy of millions of people to create wealth, to develop productivity and to promote all-round social progress. The enacting of the property law is a paragon of democratic and scientific legislation that is hard-earned, and has to be cherished, abided by, and implemented to ensure the people are happier, the economy is more prosperous, the society is more harmonious and the state is stronger.
Jiang: Mr. Wang, in the eyes of my generation, you are not only a prestigious and respected scholar of legal science, but also an enthusiastic forerunner to guide, support and encourage younger scholars. Those who engage in the study and research of law must have more or less read your works or attended your lectures. You have fostered many students, including post-doctors, doctors and masters. Would you like to talk about your expectations for them?
Wang: The younger scholars have surpassed us in many aspects. Today’s China has ushered in the best period of development in history, and academic research has been vigorous and prosperous. Nowadays the legal science is highly valued by the state and the society, and the academic atmosphere of humanities has been unprecedentedly relaxed, the notion of the pursuit of science and respect laws has become deeply rooted in thw people’s mind, national and international communication has increasingly tightened, and various means of obtaining information through electronic techniques and networks have been extensively applied. All of these provide favorable conditions of free communication and attentive research for the young scholars, and has endowed them with a broad horizon and solid capacity for research. By virtue of their intelligence and endeavor, they have become the mainstay of the Institute of Law and have made tremendous and valuable achievements.
From my point of view, it is necessary to carry forward the following spirit to consolidate and further promote a good situation for young scholars: firstly, to unswervingly adhere to the correct political orientation. Legal science is a very political and practical discipline. As Chinese scholars, we have to adhere to the correct political orientation, the correct guiding principle, constantly apply the developed Marxism with Chinese characteristics to guide the research, and uphold the scientific nature and the truth of Chinese legal science. Secondly, we have to serve and be concerned with the country and people as our duty and shoulder the historic mission willingly, constantly be concerned with the fate and future of the state, and attentively be concerned with the people’s sufferings and their realistic needs, and regard promoting social progress and enhancing people’s well-being as the starting point and ultimate mission of academic research. Thirdly, we should be diligent. Being diligent and industrious is the basic premise to do research. Making achievements through diligence and shaping behavior through mediation. Making sure to hurry up and work hard for more fruitful academic achievements. Fourthly, we should carry forward the spirit of practice. Theory derives from practice and practice is the endless source of academy. It is necessary to highlight research on issues concerning major legal theories and legal countermeasures in the great practice of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and a harmonious society, and provide a scientific theoretical basis, applicable solutions and intellectual support. Fifth, we should carry forward the spirit of innovation. The vitality of theory is rooted in innovation, and innovation is the soul of academy. Engage in creative research and explore unknown fields, seek for the truth, and never follow the instructions of books or authority blindly, but only seek the truth. Think and judge independently. Lastly, carry forward the spirit of truth, kindness and virtue. Be sincere, honest and tell the truth. Be kindhearted and love the people and the country. Be sympathetic to the weak, be righteous when you witness unfairness, and be hateful of ugly phenomena like greed and brutality. Have noble virtue, a beautiful soul and a lofty character. I am convinced that with the endeavor and fostering of a large number of diligent, industrious and devoted young scholars, the Chinese legal science will be increasingly prosperous. I sincerely hope these promising young scholars will make more excellent academic achievements and more contributions in the future.
Jiang Xihui, male, was born in January, 1975 in Hengyang, Hunan province. He received a Ph. D. degree in Law from Peking University. Currently he is working as an associate professor in the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He has published one monograph, ten co-authored books, and a dozen of academic articles in the Chinese Journal of Law, China Legal Science, etc.
(Translated by Xu Xiujun)
(Translated by Xu Xiujun)
Editor: Wang Daohang