China has a long history of legal civilization. In ancient times, the Chinese legal system, as a model in East Asia, exerted significant influence on the neighboring countries and was an important part of the global legal civilization. Today, legal modernization should pay attention to our local legal resources and take into account our legal heritage. Though China should learn from the experience of the West, it is also necessary to consider the conditions and reality of China rather than following blindly. The spirit of traditional Chinese law can be summarized as (1) humanism; (2) moral enlightenment and prudent punishment (明德慎罰); (3) law of nature (the Tao follows nature); (4) the rule of law; and (5) avoidance of litigation (ADR). Such spirit does not conflict with modern legal concept, and it should be further developed and promoted by future generations.
David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies
Liu, Yi Gong. Chinese Legal Tradition and its Modernization. Hong Kong: David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies, 2009. LEWI Working Paper Series no 87.