The Supreme Peoples' Procuratorate

Article 129 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China states that the people's procuratorates are state organs for legal supervision and the Supreme Peoples' Procuratorate is also authorized by NPC to issue the procuratorial interpretations. The publications published by the Supreme Peoples' Procuratorate are less than those of the Supreme People's Court's. The general sources is the Gazette of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (1991-date, irregularly, about six times a year), which contains usually the procuratorial interpretations, circulars, documents and typical criminal cases. The full text of the Gazette from 2000 is available online at Other procuratorial documents prior to 1991 can be tracked using the Procuratorial Handbook (China Procuratorial Press, 1979-date, yearly).

Law Reports

Official Publication

The legal system of China is considered part of the Continental Legal System, and court decisions are not the source of Chinese law and do not have the legal binding effect in judicial practices, which is different from that of Anglo-American legal system. But some publications, including judicial reports in both official and commercial editions, have been published since 1990 for the purpose of instructing the work of lower courts and procuratorates. The major official ones are the Selected Cases of the People's Court (People's Court Press, 1992-, Quarterly) and the Series of Criminal Cases (China Procuratorial Press, 1991).  The former, compiled by the China's Applied Law Institute, are subject to the authorization of the Supreme People's Court and are published regularly. They consist of many big and puzzling cases involving criminal, civil, economic, administrative, marine ones. The cases compiled are usually chosen from the courts of all levels and special courts, and each case is composed of three parts, including fact of case, adjudication, theoretical analysis and experiences and lessons, which plays an important role in directing courts to hear the similar cases. Its bound edition, Selected Cases of the People's Court: 1992-1999 (China Legal System Press, 2000), incorporates the reported cases into seven volumes, covering respectively criminal, civil, commercial, intellectual property, maritime, transportation, administrative and state compensation cases. The latter, containing about 6,000 cases selected from those prosecuted by the national procuratorial institutions at deferent levels since 1979, when the Penal Code was enacted, has been published in 23 chapters, and the cases, selected from about 100 crimes, were classified into scores of titles and each chapter includes several cases.

Gazette of the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China is another authoritative source in respect to the court decision. Each issue carries several leading cases. In order to bring into fully play the directive role of typical cases, the Editorial Department of the Gazette edited a case book, A Complete Collection of Leading Cases From the Gazette of the Supreme People's Court: 1985.1-1999.2 (Police Officer Press, 1999), which contains about 300 cases that have appeared in the Gazette during the period 1985-1999.

In recent years, some local courts at the provincial level have also compiled case books for the purpose of improving the trial quality of basic courts and the ability of judges to handle specific cases, and to raise the scholastic levels of judges. So, a number of local law reports have been published one by one, such as:

  • Selected Cases Adjudicated in the Courts of Guangdong Province (Guangdong People's Press, 1997);
  • Selected Cases Decided by the Courts of Qingdao City (Law Press, 2001);
  • Selected Cases Tried by the Courts of Tianjin Municipality (Law Press, 2001);
  • Noted Cases Adjudged by the Courts of Beijing Municipality (Law Press, 2001);
  • Annotated Cases Handled by the Courts of Hebei Province (Law Press, 2001).

Among the local case publications which deserve to be praised is the case book series entitled Selected Cases Adjudicated in the Courts of Shanghai (Shanghai People's Press, 1994-date, yearly). Published under the direction of the Higher People's Court of Shanghai, each year it includes about 100 or more cases selected carefully from more than 600 cases recommended by different levels of courts in Shanghai. These cases cover a wide range of dimensions and are typical in each type of cases. They reflect the new types of cases appeared in recent years' social, economic and legal transactions.

Judicial Document Selections of the People's Court (Law Press, 2001-date) is another official series of court judgments which consists of a dozens chapters including the full text of written judgments, awards and mediation documents selected by the higher people's court of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government.

English Version

Presently, most of law reports are still available in Chinese only, but case publications in English have already emerged and will continue to grow. The higher people's court of Shanghai municipality, for example, in 1999 compiled a Chinese-English Edition case book, Protection of Intellectual Property Rights cases and Comments (Law press, 1999). This book includes a dozen typical cases on intellectual property, some noted cases about copyright disputes are reported, such as:

  • Wu Guanzhong v. Shanghai Duoyunxuan & Hong Kong Yongcheng;
  • Qian Zhongshu and People's Literature Press v. Xu Zhifen and Sichuan Literature &Art Press;
  • Feng Chuyin et al. (successors of Zhang Leping) v. Jiangsu Sanmao Group Inc.

Of the fourteen cases selected, four are disputes involving at least one foreign party; three involve a party from Taiwan or Hong Kong; six are copyright disputes; four are disputes concerning the right to the exclusive use of trademarks; two are disputes of unfair competition; one is a dispute over a patent infringement; and one involves the theft of technical secrets. The judgments for many of these cases have been affirmed by the Supreme People's Court or published in the Supreme Court's Gazette or cited by the Supreme People's Court in its news release. The character of this book is that there are comment attached to each judgment written by the presiding judges and thus adding more authenticity and authority to the judgments.

Commercial Publication

In addition to those case books compiled by courts, there are some commercial editions have been published among which the most significant and scholastic one is China's Court Judgments Study (China Renmin University Press, 1992-date, yearly). Compiled Jointly by the Training Center of Senior Judge of China and the Law School of Renmin University of China, it is a large and voluminous case book published continuously since 1992 and the cases involved cover the every field of law and are selected carefully by the legal experts from the cases sentenced by all levels of courts. Each year it includes about more than 300 cases; and in each case, the judgment gives a clear report of the fact, the trial process and the reasoning. In addition, there is also a brief comment written by legal scholars in the end of the judgment.

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Reference Sources

Judicial Yearbooks

A yearbook is a very useful reference source chronologically recording the events and important documents each year. Presently, there are three legal yearbooks which are national in scope in China. They are:

China Law Yearbook (China Law Yearbook Press, 1987-date);
This publication is the most comprehensive legal reference work that consists of selections from a wide range of legal sources, including descriptive commentaries on legal construction, major laws and regulations, judicial instruments, court decisions, judicial statistical data, and general conditions of legal science and legal education. The first issue of law yearbook was also published in English from which the readers abroad can read many translated materials for the first time about China's legal construction since 1979.

Yearbook of People's Court (People's Court Press, 1989-1992);
This is a reference book chronologically recording the events and materials in the area of justice work each year. It usually contains:

  • Work reports of the Supreme People's Court and courts of province, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government;
  • Survey of national justice work involving criminal, civil, economic and administrative trial;
  • Major laws and judicial interpretations;
  • Selection of documents for the administration of justice issued by the Supreme People's Court;
  • Important Speech of state leaders and of present, vice-present of the Supreme People's Court;
  • Report on important meeting;
  • Selection of cases;
  • Chronicle;
  • Judicial Statistical data.

Regrettably, it ceased to publish in 1993.

Procuratorial Yearbook of China (China Procuratorate Press, 1988-date).
This is a comprehensive reference book which records the information and materials about the procuratorial work of China each year. The columns in the book commonly include:

  • Speech and reports delivered by leaders of state or the Supreme People's Procuratorate;
  • Work reports of people's procuratorates of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government;
  • Selection of the procuratorial documents;
  • Typical cases;
  • Foreign exchange and cooperation in procuratorial area;
  • Research of theory, newspaper and magazine and press;
  • Statistical data, etc.

Historical Judicial Materials

China Today: the People's Judicial Work (two volumes, China Today Press, 1993).  This book is an essential work on China judicial history. It records mainly the judicial work and significant events of China from 1949 to 1989 and provides a wealth of historical data about developing process, achievements, experiences and lessons of courts. The content of the book encompasses six parts plus a preamble which expound, in detail and accurately, the justice activities of national courts in different period and aspects, including some major events in the history such as:

  • Punishing the criminals of breaking finance and engaging in commercial speculation to stabilize commodity Prices and the People's Life in the initial period of New China;
  • Punishing the criminals of committing embezzle and theft exposed during the movements against the "Three Evils" and the "Five Evils" to eliminate the bad influence of the old society;
  • Handling the Japanese war criminals;
  • Handling ten principal criminals of Lin-Biao and Jiang-Qing counter-revolutionary cliques.

In 1999, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, a number of publications pertaining to the history of the people's court have been published among which the significant ones are as follows:

Collection of Historical Data Regarding Judicial Statistics of National People's Courts: 1949-1998 (Law Press, 2000). This is the most useful judicial statistical source book ever published in China. Compiled by the Research Department of the Supreme People's Court, it collects a wealth of valuable data of judicial statistics recording chronologically the various kinds of cases tried by national courts at different levels from 1949 to 1999. Many statistics, especially those in the period of "Culture Revolution" (1966-1976), are published for the first time in this book. The whole book consists of three volumes according to the type of cases. The first volume contains criminal cases; and the second, civil, economic and administrative cases; and the third, cases decided by higher courts at provincial level. Each volume contains two parts, the first part involves the consolidated figures of the cases sentenced by national courts of all levels and the second part, the primary data reported by courts of whole country.

Another historical book is the Collection of Report on the Work of the Supreme Peoples' Procuratorate (China Procuratorial Press, 1999) which embraces work reports delivered by the chief procurators of the Supreme Peoples' Procuratorate at all the previous National People's Congress from 1955 to 1999 and is an authoritative source searching for the historical documents and events of national procuratorial work in the past 50 years.

Local Judicial Chronicles

Annals is a very useful information sources recording historical events and documents. China has a fine tradition in compiled chronicles. From 1990s the publication of judicial annals have mushroomed everywhere in China. Many courts at different levels compiled their own annals and in some provincial annals there is also a judicial volume within it. Here is a list of judicial annals below:

  • Court Annals of Baotou City (Inner Mongolia People's Press, 1990);
  • Court Annals of Chengdu City (Sichuan People's Press, 1997);
  • Court Annals of Chuxiong Prefecture (Yunnan University Press, 1997);
  • Justice Annals of Xianyang City (Shaanxi Peeople's Press, 1997);
  • Justice Annals of Yulin Prefecture (Shaaxi People's Press, 1999);
  • Court Annals of Jinhua City (Annals Press, 1999);
  • Court Annals of Jingjiang District of Chengdu City (Sichuan Dictionary Press, 1999);
  • Court Annals of Wuyi County (Zhejiang People's Press, 2000);
  • Court Annals of Jinan City (Shandong People's Press, 2002);
  • Henan Provincial Annals: Vol.20: Justice and Administration of Justice Chronicle (Henan People's Press, 1993);
  • Jiangsu Provincial Annals: Justice (Jiangsu People's Press, 1997);
  • Sichuan Provincial Annals: Public Security & Justice (Sichuan People's Press, 1997);
  • Hubei Provincial Annals: Justice (Hubei People's Press, 1998);
  • Shandong Provincial Annals: Justice (Shandong People's Press, 1998).

These annals commonly records the historical materials and events about local justice work, and chronicle the changes and development of judicial organs, adjudication, brief biography of judge, historical documents and photos. They mirror from one side the justice work of China.

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