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Civil Code of China: Book IV Personality Rights (2020)

民法典 第四编 人格权

Type of laws Law

Issuing body National People's Congress

Promulgating date May 28, 2020

Effective date Jan 01, 2021

Validity status Valid

Scope of application Nationwide

Topic(s) Civil Law Civil Code

Editor(s) C. J. Observer Xinzhu Li 李欣烛

China promulgated its first-ever Civil Code in May 2020, which includes seven parts, i.e., General Principles, Real Rights, Contracts, Personality Rights, Marriage and Family, Succession, Liability for Tort, and Supplementary Provisions.

Book I General Principles

Book II Real Rights

Book III Contract

Book IV Personality Rights

Book V Marriage and Family

Book VI Succession

Book VII Liability for Tort

The Personality Rights is its fourth part.

Different from other parts, Part IV Personality Rights has no pre-existing specific law as its foundation. Instead, it is drafted on the base of existing laws, administrative regulations, and judicial interpretations. Incorporating Personality Rights as an independent part of the Civil Code is a significant development and innovation of China’s civil legislation, which is also a new page in the world history of civil code compilation.

“Book IV Personality Rights” is divided into 5 chapters: General Provisions, the Right to Life, the Right to Bodily Integrity and the Right to Health, the Right to a Name, the Portrait Right, the Right to Reputation and the Right to Honor, as well as the Right to Privacy and the Protection of Personal Information.

We have selected some noteworthy points as follows:

1.Personality Rights

Personality Rights refer to the right to life, right to bodily integrity, right to health, right to a name, portrait right, right to reputation, right to honor, right to privacy, and other rights enjoyed by civil subjects.

If the civil subject is a natural person, he/she also enjoys other personality rights and interests generated from personal freedom and personal dignity.

Personality rights shall be protected by the law, which shall not be infringed upon by any organization or individual.

Personality rights shall not be renounced, assigned, or inherited.

2.The Right to Bodily Integrity

A person with full capacity for civil conduct shall have the right to decide on his/her own to voluntarily donate his/her human cells, human tissues, human organs, or remains in accordance with the law. No organization or individual may force, cheat, or induce others for such donation.

Purchasing or selling human cells, human tissues, human organs, or remains in any form shall be prohibited.

Anyone who engages in medical and scientific research activities related to human genes or human embryos shall abide by laws, administrative regulations, and relevant regulations of the State, and shall not endanger human health, violate ethics or damage public interests.

3.Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is stipulated in the second chapter: the Right to Life, the Right to Bodily Integrity, and the Right to Health. Where a person conducts sexual harassment to another person in the forms such as verbal remarks, written language, images, physical behaviors in violation of his/her will, the victim shall have the right to request the person to bear civil liability according to the law.

Entities such as organs, enterprises, and schools shall adopt reasonable measures on prevention, acceptance, and handling of complaints, investigation and disposal, among others, to prevent and curb sexual harassment by making use of official powers and affiliation, etc.

4.The Portrait Right

A natural person enjoys the portrait right. Without his/her consent, the right holder of portrait work shall not use or make public the portrait of such a person by means of publication, reproduction, issuing, lease, exhibition, etc.

However, if it is to reasonably conduct certain acts provided for by laws, it may be possible without the consent of the holder of portrait right.

5.The Right to Reputation

Except for the specific circumstances provided for by law, if the person conducts news reports, public opinion supervision, and other acts for the public interest, which affects the reputation of others, he/she shall not bear civil liability.

Civil subjects may inquire about his/her own credit rating according to the law; if he/she finds that any credit rating is improper, he/she has the right to raise an objection and request necessary measures such as corrections or deletions. The credit evaluators shall verify the objection promptly and, if the claim is substantiated, shall take necessary measures in a timely manner.

6.The Right to Privacy

A natural person shall enjoy the right to privacy. No organization or individual may infringe upon the right to privacy of any other person by spying, intrusion, disclosing or publishing the relevant information or by any other means.

Personal information about natural persons shall be protected by laws.

Personal information refers to all kinds of information recorded by electronic or otherwise that can be used to independently identify or be combined with other information to identify a specific natural person, including the natural person’s names, date of birth, ID numbers, biometric information, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail address, health information, whereabouts, etc.

The processing of personal information shall first obtain the consent of the natural person or his/her guardian, and shall not violate laws, administrative regulations, or the agreements of both parties.

The processing of personal information includes the collection, storage, use, processing, transmission, provision and disclosure of personal information, etc.

An information processor shall not divulge or tamper with the personal information that is collected and stored by him/her. Without the consent of the natural person, the information processor shall not illegally provide the personal information of such a natural person to any other, except for the information that has been processed so that the specific person cannot be identified and that cannot be recovered.

This English translation comes from the NPC Website. In the near future, a more accurate English version translated by us will be available on China Laws Portal.