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English Version of China's Civil Code Published Overseas

By VIVIAN YANICHONGQING|May 13,2022

Chongqing- The English version of the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China has been published by US publishers, offering readers worldwide an authoritative reference book on the landmark law.

It was translated by a team of experts from the School of Foreign Languages of Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL) and proofread by Professor Song Lei, a senior national translator and former dean of the school. It was co-published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc. and Wells Information Services Inc.

Southwest university of political science and law. (Photo/ SWUPL)

As the only English version of the law, the book has also been included in the internationally renowned legal database HeinOnline.

It is the first law with  “code” in the title since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the promulgation of the Civil Code is not only an important event in the history of the Chinese rule of law but also an important part of the codification process in the world.

The rule of law serves as the greatest consensus in international communication, and legal translation is the international bridge for the spread of the Chinese rule of law outside the region.

Spread Chinese legal culture

“There are many original Chinese concepts in the Civil Code,” said Zhu Yuanqing, one of the translation team members, former associate director of SWUPL’s Foreign Language School, and now associate director of the Human Rights School. “The translation of Chinese law contributes to the construction of China’s international discourse system and the promotion of international discourse power.”

Zhu continued that this plays an important role in helping foreign readers understand the latest progress of China’s rule of law construction and spreading the global image of China’s rule of law.

“For example, the term ‘minshi zhuti’ is mostly translated as ‘civil subjects’ in China, but foreign jurists are confused about the translation,” said Zhu. “After multiple verifications and consultation with foreign experts, the translation team temporarily translated this as ‘parties to civil legal affairs.'”

According to Zhu, the new era calls for cultural exchanges and mutual learning between different countries and ethnic groups. Comments and criticism of professional translation can improve the quality of foreign legal translation and the depth and breadth of dissemination.

He hopes that more translators can dedicate themselves to the foreign translation of Chinese law, including laws and regulations, and judicial cases, to help the global spread of Chinese legal culture.

Niu Benlin, another translator, said that so far, many unique Chinese legal concepts have not been defined by a specific standard. Next, they will continue to study legal translation and contribute to the normalization of Chinese legal terms.

The Civil Code took effect on Jan 1, 2021. It has six parts: real rights, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and tort liabilities.

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