The PRC legal system is based on the PRC Constitution and is made up of written laws,
regulations, directives and local laws, laws of Special Administrative Regions and laws resulting from international treaties entered into by the PRC government. Court case verdicts do not constitute binding precedents. However, they are used for the purposes of judicial reference and guidance.
The National People’s Congress of the PRC (‘‘NPC’’) and the Standing Committee of the
NPC are empowered by the PRC Constitution to exercise the legislative power of the State. The NPC has the power to amend the PRC Constitution and enact and amend basic laws governing State agencies and civil and criminal matters. The Standing Committee of the NPC is empowered to enact and amend all laws except for the laws that are required to be enacted and amended by the NPC.
The State Council is the highest organ of the State administration and has the power to enact
administrative rules and regulations. The ministries and commissions under the State Council are also vested with the power to issue orders, directives and regulations within the jurisdiction of their respective departments. All administrative rules, regulations, directives and orders promulgated by the State Council and its ministries and commissions must be consistent with the PRC Constitution and the national laws enacted by the NPC. In the event that a conflict arises, the Standing Committee of the NPC has the power to annul administrative rules, regulations, directives and orders.
At the regional level, the provincial and municipal congresses and their respective standing
committees may enact local rules and regulations and the people’s governments may promulgate administrative rules and directives applicable to their own administrative areas. These local laws and regulations must be consistent with the PRC Constitution, the national laws and the administrative rules and regulations promulgated by the State Council. The State Council, provincial and municipal governments may also enact or issue rules, regulations or directives in new areas of the law for experimental purposes. After gaining sufficient experience with experimental measures, the State Council may submit legislative proposals to be considered by the NPC or the Standing Committee of the NPC for enactment at the national level.
The PRC Constitution vests the power to interpret laws in the Standing Committee of the
NPC. According to the Decision of the Standing Committee of the NPC Regarding the Strengthening of Interpretation of Laws passed on June 10, 1981, the Supreme People’s Court, in addition to its power to give general interpretation on the application of laws in judicial proceedings, also has the power to interpret specific cases. The State Council and its ministries and commissions are also vested with the power to interpret rules and regulations that they have promulgated. At the regional level, the power to interpret regional laws is vested in the regional legislative and administrative bodies which promulgate such laws.