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Chinese Law Research Guide: Free Web Resources & Research Guides

Resources for researching Chinese law.

Four Official Websites Publisizing Court Information

China has four official online platforms for publicizing court information.  For an overview of these resources, see the July 2015 White Paper: Judicial Transparency of Chinese Courts:

  • Live Broadcast of Court Trials - In September 2016 China officially launched this website to live broadcast court trials in an effort to increase judicial transparency.
  • China Trial Process Information Disclosure Website - In 2014 the Supreme People’s Court became the first court in China to disclose information on trial process at this disclosure website. Parties to the case may log on with their ID cards to search and download court records, trial documents, and process information.  
  • China Judgments Online - In 2013, the Supreme People's Court began making judgment documents from more than 3,000 courts across China accessible and searchable through this website.
  • Enforcement of Court Decisions - The Supreme People’s Court has integrated the disclosed information of all courts in China to develop and construct a uniform China Enforcement Information Disclosure Website. 

Free Sources of Chinese Law Online

  • World Legal Information Institute: China - This is an excellent collection of links to most of the best websites for Chinese legal information on the Internet.
  • The China Guiding Cases Project is an initiative of Stanford Law School aimed at advancing knowledge and understanding of Chinese law. It allows judges and legal experts both inside and outside of China to contribute to the evolution of Chinese case law through ongoing dialogue on “Guiding Cases” released by China’s Supreme People’s Court. 
    • The Growing Significance of Cases in China: The Guiding Cases System  (Judge Sidney H. Stein, 2017)
      • "Guiding Cases represent a constructive step towards judicial autonomy and transparency." 
      • Started in 2010, "the Guiding Cases System has the potential to move the Chinese legal system closer to the goal set in 1982 by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China—that “[t]he people’s courts exercise adjudicative power independently, in accordance with the provisions of law, and not subject to interference by any administrative organ, social organization, or individual.”
      • "The ultimate value and efficacy of the Guiding Cases System relies on continued participation from all stakeholders, including members of the bench, the bar, and academia."
      • "To be certain, the term “Guiding Cases” is something of a misnomer—they are not “cases” as we know them but are, rather, decisions and cases that have been re-constituted into easily-digested adjudicative data. Chinese courts are not ultimately obligated to genuinely consider Guiding Cases in their judgments—they exist for reference, not as binding precedent—and practitioners before these courts are not obligated to cite Guiding Cases in the course of their representation.
      • "[T]he Detailed Implementing Rules prohibit a Chinese court from resting a decision solely on the strength of a Guiding Case, and the present composition of the National Judicial Examination means that neophyte Chinese lawyers most likely begin the practice of law with no—or little—familiarity with the Guiding Cases regime."
    • The Stanford Law Guiding Cases website includes the full-text of the Guiding Cases, provisions of the Supreme People’s Court concerning Guiding Cases, expert commentaries on the Guiding Cases, and summaries of selected laws.
    • Guiding Cases at LawInfoChina - Use the filter on the left to locate 110 Guiding Cases from the Supreme People's Court and 8 Guiding Cases from the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
  • China Judgments Online - The official Chinese language web site developed by the Supreme People's Court for searching judgments.  It contains selected PRC judgments from the Supreme People's Court and local courts since 2013. Judgments can be searched by keywords or case number, or can be browsed by region or subject areas (e.g. civil, criminal, administrative, intellectual property, etc.). 
  • Supreme People's Court - Includes Resources, Judicial System, Reports, Laws & Rules, Court Statistics & White Papers.
  • Ministry Of Foreign Affairs - Includes Foreign Policies, Official Activities, Speeches, Communiqués & Diplomatic Agenda.
  • Government White Papers - A collection of official Chinese government "White Papers" (in English) published by the Information Office of the State Council. Some of these may be useful research resources on various topics. State Council documents available online in English include: State Council Gazettes, White Papers, and Work Reports.
  • National People's Congress - The news website maintained by The National People's Congress, The People's Republic of China, is very good and is updated frequently. This website focuses on reporting all major missions and activities of the congress and its standing committee, releasing the laws, resolution/decisions and lists of appointments and removals passed by the standing committee. One interesting feature at this site is the Law & Regulations Database. Using this database you can quickly research English translations of Chinese statutes -- Either browse the collection or search by keyword using the search boxes at the bottom of the webpage. [Note: For some reason, this Law Database isn't always available.]
  • Legislative Affairs Office (LAO) of the State Council P. R. China - This 2016 archives website includes the free database which provides the summaries of English translations of selected laws and regulations, summaries of departmental rules, and summaries of judicial interpretations up to 2007. The LAO was abolished in 2018 and it's functions have been assumed by the reorganized Ministry of Justice (MOJ)..
  • Congressional-Executive Commission on China - This website was created by U.S. Congress in October 2000 with a legislative mandate [H.R. 4444, 106th Cong. (2000)] to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The commission consists of nine Senators, nine members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President. This website includes the annual reports of the commission, the topical papers, and the statements of panelists participating in the roundtables organized by the commission. It includes the full-text of Selected PRC Legal Provisions and is a good place to track current legal issues in China.
  • China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) - If you want to do business in China, you need to know about CIETAC. At this website you can find arbitration rules, Chinese laws, case analysis, and reports.
  • The Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China - This is an official website. It is a gateway to all Chinese government information and services, and an interactive channel between government and the public. It includes laws and regulations, the Constitution, official publications (such as State Council Gazettes, Statistical Communiqués, White Papers, & Work Reports), and the searchable China Legislative Information Network System.
  • China's Ministry of Justice website - It includes information on legislative developments, judicial assistance, legal aid, and a Chinese law search system.
  • Hong Kong e-Legislation - This free online database contains: the statutes & laws of Hong Kong in English and Chinese; constitutional and other relevant documents, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Basic Law of the HKSAR and the PRC national laws that apply in the HKSAR; English-Chinese Glossary of Legal Terms and the Chinese-English Glossary of Legal Terms; Chinese Subject Index of Ordinances; English Subject Index of Ordinances. 
  • The China Business Information Center - Maintained by the U.S. government, this site contains a list of links to China-U.S. Trade News sources, links to: China Commercial Guide and Advice on doing business in China
  • China Labour Bulletin - Publishes research reports on issues such as the Chinese workers' movement, migrant workers, health and safety, and trade unions and collective bargaining.  Provides overviews on topics like the Chinese dispute resolution system and social security along with links to Chinese laws and empirical data.
  • - See the Laws section

China Legal Research Guides

An Overview of English Resources for Chinese Legal Research - An excellent overview of Chinese legal research by John Bahrij and Lily Ko published in 13 Legal Information Management 25 (March 2013).

Asian Law Online - A website maintained by Melbourne Law School's Asian Law Centre with useful links to online PRC legal information and a bibliography of print resources.

Beyond the Border: The Construction of the Chinese Legal System in Cyberspace - By Joan Liu, China law research liaison, New York University Law Library. Published on July 4, 2000.

China Law Research - (updated 2021) UCLA School of Law library research guide

Chinese Law and Legal Research (2005) - This book, published by Wei Luo of Washington University School of Law Library, is a comprehensive treatment of how to research Chinese law. It covers print and online resources and provides background on the legal system, court system and legislation.

Chinese Legal Research (2014) [RECOMMENDED] - By Paul Kossof, this book covers China's legal system, constitution, government, legislation, and treaties.  It provides research guidance on finding laws, using secondary sources, and citations.

Complete Research Guide to the Laws of the People's Republic of China - (2003) by Chinese law experts Wei Luo and Joan Liu. This extensively documented guide details the major print and online sources on the PRC's legal system, case law, primary and secondary sources, commercial database services, periodicals, directories, government agency websites, and also evaluates the authority of these resources.

Finding Chinese Law on the Internet (updated 2021) [RECOMMENDED] - Globalex guide by Joan Liu and Anna Guo.  Includes background information about the Chinese Legal System, Characteristics and Sources of Chinese law, a list of Major Chinese or Bilingual Online Sources, and a discussion about features of Online China Law Sources and Search Strategies

Foreign Law Guide: China - (updated 2019) This extensive online guide to foreign law is available through the  Hastings library. Select the country at the bottom of the webpage.  Includes useful information about China's legal history, legislation, and judicial system. [Note: To access this resource off-campus, you are required to authenticate that you are a Hastings student by entering your Hastings email username/password.]

Guide to Foreign Law - by NYU Law Library

Library of Congress China Law Research Guide (updated 2021) - A basic guide to China Law, including links to China Courts and Government Agencies.

"One Country, Two Systems” of Legal Research: A Brief Guide to Finding the Law of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (updated 2018) - By Foreign and International Law Librarians, Sergio Stone & Roy L. Sturgeon

PRC: Legal Resources (updated 2021) - Legal research guide published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library.  Includes descriptions of Legal Resources, Major Ministries, and Useful Links

Archived Research Guides

Chinese Law Resources on the Internet (Archived website from 2008) - Wei Luo of the Internet Chinese Legal Research Center maintained a webpage of annotated links to Chinese Law Resources on the Internet, including databases of China law mostly in Chinese with limited availability of English translations. This site is in English, but is more useful for students who read Chinese.

Section of International Law: China Committee (Archived 2018) - A limited collection of ABA links to web-based and print research guides on PRC legal & business resources.

Selected Resources on Chinese Business Research (Archived 2013) - Guide to China business law contains links to online research guides, websites and a select bibliography of relevant books.

WashLaw's PRC Law Guide (Archived 2019) - People's Republic of China law resource page with links to the China constitution, China government, China law firms, China law, China law discussion group, China legal research, China judiciary, China study abroad programs, China law schools, China legislature, China law guide, and more.