Internet Chinese Legal Research Center

A Strategy to Start Searching or Update
the Laws of the People's Republic of China

Wei Luo


Even though China Laws for Foreign Business (North Ryde, N.S.W. : CCH Australia Ltd., 1985-) and The China Law Reference Service(Hong Kong : Asia Law & Practice Ltd., 1996-) have fairly advanced indexing and updating systems, to update to the most current Chinese law is not straightforward because the PRC has not had a law codification system, and to obtain the full text of new Chinese laws in English is rather difficult. In addition, these two Chinese law services do not cover all Chinese laws and regulations. Therefore, a strategy for updating Chinese law by using the available sources needs to be established. The following is one established by the author. Thanks to the Internet and more and more Chinese legal websites are developed. Some times, the Internet is the only place for finding some newly promulgated Chinese laws.

Step 1. If you cannot read Chinese, point your web browser to http://www.lawinfochina.com/ (This website, by far, is the largest English database of Chinese laws and administrative regulations with about 2,000 pieces of translations.) Though this site is a fee-based site, searching is free. You could run either title or full text searches to identify what laws you need. After you retrieve a list of laws, only the subscribers can access full text of laws in English. The annual subscription fee to this website is only US$500.

Step 2. If you read Chinese, point your web browser to http://www.chinalawinfo.com (Chinalawinfo is the most comprehensive and reliable Chinese legal website with a sophisticated searching engin. Its law and regulation database is updated daily.) If you are a subscriber, you can log into the laws and regulations database by entering your username and password at the column of law and regulation subscriber. If you are not a subscriber, searching laws and retrieving titles are free. If you are not sure how to search, you can select different categories of law and browser listed titles. After running searches, don't forget to browser the newly promulgated laws, regulations, local law, and judicial interpretation sections to see any relevant laws being changed. The annual subscription fee to this website is only US$250.

Step 3. If don't have access to the Internet but have access to the loosleaf service of China Laws for Foreign Business, consult its main subject index first, then look for texts in the main volumes. Again, please remember the Chinese laws and regulations are not codified, so you need to find all the laws and regulations which are relevant to your research topics by looking for all relevant indexed terms. Don't forget to check its recent special law update and alert reports in pamphlets which are sent to subscribers almost every month, to see any recent changes. So far this looseleaf service is the best Chinese law and regulation compilation, but it is very expensive. Only a few libraries in the United States have it. To see which library near you owns this loosleaf service, check the Appendix.

If you have access to The China Law Reference Service, consult its Index Volume or Digest sections first. Then, use its reference number and page number to locate full text of laws in English translation. Don't forget to check with the cross reference boxes at the end of each law to see any related or repealed legislation and other references.

Although China Laws for Foreign Business and The China Law Reference Service include most Chinese laws and regulations, their primary coverage is Chinese law related to foreign business and trade. Therefore, if you cannot find the laws in this set, you need to check with other sets of Chinese law compilations, such as Zhonghua renmin gongheguo falu faguei : huo yeh = Chung-hua jen min kung ho kuo fa lu fa keui: huo yeh (Laws and regulations of the People's Republic of China: looseleaf) (Beijing : Legal Publishing House, 1995-).

Step 4. Consult the New Law Digest section in recent issues of China Law and Practice (Hong Kong : China Law and Practice Ltd., 1987-). This section lists titles, promulgating and effective dates, applicability, main contents and related legislation of new laws, regulations and judicial and administrative decisions. If you are a subscriber to China Law and Practice.

Step 5. If you could not get a clue from the above sources, post an e-mail note on the Chinese Law Net, to seek help. Many Chinese law experts subscribe to this mailing list. Someone on the Net may solve your research problem. The e-mail address is Chinese Law Net <clnet@u.washington.edu>. However, (1) you need to be a subscriber to the Chinese Law Net before you can post a message to it. (This rule was implemented in order to avoid junk mail.); (2) a query to the Chinese Law Net is most likely to get a response if (a) it is narrow and focused (e.g., "Where can I find a copy in English of the Law on XYZ" or "Have the 1990 Regs on ABC been superseded?"), and (b) it states briefly the steps the researcher has already taken to solve the problem.

Internet Chinese Legal Research Center

*Last modified 7/26/2006*

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