Comparative Law in China

The Chinese defeat in the 1840 Sino-British Opium War led to the publication and diffusion of many Western books in China. More and more Chinese people realised that the prosperity of the West was not only based on its military power, but also on its advanced political and legal system. As a result, the Chinese began realising the importance of study of foreign laws and comparative implications thereof with Chinese law. The 1911 Revolution put an end to the 2000 years of feudal rule. The period between 1911 and 1949 saw a development of comparative law of which the main peculiarity was a strong objective to model of the Western capitalist countries. Legal research and study on comparative law in this period made an important progress and contributed significantly to the modernization of modern Chinese law. Between 1949 to the early 1960s the development of comparative law was constrained. The Cultural Revolution was dominated by the prevalence of legal nihilism, resulting in a halt to all legal study and research. Starting from 1990s the Chinese legislature has moved, first tentatively, then comprehensively, to espouse successful foreign legislative experiences. Current comparative legal research and development in Mainland China has undergone great progress and contributed significantly to the modernization of the Chinese legal system, but it still falls behind in comparison to other countries since it is still difficult for Chinese scholars to have access to first-hand, unprocessed materials and information. 

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