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China's First Civil Code on the Way

Sun, 29 Mar 2020
Categories: Insights



China has been compiling its first civil code since 2015. The draft has been deliberated many times by China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), and it is very likely to be adopted in 2020.

For related posts on the PRC Civil Code, please click here.

For China Civil Code (Free English Version), please click each part as follow:

Book I General Principles (English, Chinese)

Book II Real Rights (English, Chinese)

Book III Contract (English, Chinese)

Book IV Personality Rights (English, Chinese)

Book V Marriage and Family (English, Chinese)

Book VI Succession (English, Chinese)

Book VII Liability for Tort (English, Chinese)


How is the Chinese civil code compiled?

China has adopted a two-step plan.

Firstly, the compilers prepare the general provisions of civil law, which are submitted to the NPC for voting. Secondly, the compilers prepare the specific provisions separately, then merge them with the general provisions into an integral civil code, which will be submitted to the NPC for voting. [1]

Up to now, the compilers have completed the specific provisions and have got an integrated draft of the civil code.

China’s current civil legal system has covered all the contents involved in the civil code, the compilation of which is based on these laws and the amendments thereto.

These laws include the General Principles of Civil Law (amended on 27 Aug. 2009), the Contract Law (adopted on 15 Mar. 1999), the Marriage Law (amended on 28 Apr. 2001), the Succession Law (adopted on 10 Apr. 1985), the Adoption Law (amended on 4 Nov. 1998), the Guarantee Law (adopted on 30 June 1995), the  Property [Real Rights] Law (adopted on 16 Mar. 2007), and the Tort Law (adopted on 26 Dec. 2009). [2]

The said civil code under compilation includes general provisions, real rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, succession, tort, and supplementary provisions.

The progress made in compiling the civil code includes:

In Mar. 2015, the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee organized the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the China Law Society to establish a coordination group for the compilation of the civil code. The institutions and experts involved in the compilation are collectively referred to as compilers.

On 27 June 2016, the NPC Standing Committee deliberated the first draft of the general provisions of civil law. On 31st Oct. 2016 and 19 Dec. 2016, the NPC Standing Committee deliberated the second and the third drafts of the general provisions of civil law respectively. [3]

On 15 Mar. 2017, the NPC passed the General Provisions of Civil Law (中华人民共和国民法总则)(draft), which was implemented on 1st Oct 2017.

In Aug. 2018, the NPC Standing Committee held an initial deliberation on the specific provisions of the civil code (draft). Since then, the specific provisions have been further deliberated for several times. [4]

On 28 Dec. 2019, the NPC Standing Committee integrated the General Provisions of Civil Law (in force) and the specific provisions under compilation into the civil code (draft), and decided to submit the draft to the NPC for deliberation. [5]

The NPC would have deliberated the civil code (draft) at the third annual session of the 13th NPC in Mar. 2020, during which China’s first civil code is expected to be adopted. But due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the NPC Standing Committee decided to postpone the annual session, and the opening of the session is yet to be decided.



[1] 常腾飞、卢林茂:“民法典编纂的‘两步走’”,《人民政坛》2017年第6期。

[2] 关注民法典立法,

[3] 《民法典编纂时间表与民法总则大事记》,

[4] 盛世修典:新中国首部民法典草案亮相,

[5] 民法典草案将提请全国人民代表大会审议,


Photo by zhang kaiyv( on Unsplash

Contributors: China Laws Portal Team

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