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General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China

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The General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China (Chinese: 中华人民共和国民法通则) is a law in the PRC that was promulgated in 1986 and came into force on January 1, 1987. It is intended to create a consistent framework for civil law interpretation in the People's Republic of China and is heavily influenced by the German Civil Code. Unlike most civil law jurisdictions, the PRC does not have a comprehensive civil code, and attempts to create one have proven difficult and controversial.

It is the most important codification after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It is significantly different from the French and German civil codes. It consists of 9 chapters and 156 articles. The chapters deal with the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: Consists of the basic principles of civil activities like equality of parties in civil proceedings, voluntariness and honesty, protection of civil rights and lawful interests of legal persons, respect for social justice, public interest, state economic policies, etc. The general rules of the 1st chapter stipulate that the civil law of China regulates property and personal relationships among citizens and legal persons;
  • Chapter 2: Deals with legal capacity of natural persons;
  • Chapter 3: Deals with legal persons;
  • Chapter 4: Deals with legal acts and power of attorney;
  • Chapter 5: Deals with state, collective and individual ownership;
  • Chapter 6: Deals with remedies for breach of contract and torts;
  • Chapter 7: Deals with general provisions like limitations;
  • Chapter 8: Contains provisions for private international law;
  • Chapter 9: Contains supplementary and closing provisions;


It is the first systematic legislation after the foundation of the PRC.