SOAS University of London

School of Law

Chinese commercial law

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This module studies the principal features of commercial law in contemporary China. The module explores the manner in which law regulates the resultant growth of commercial activity in modern China, looking at both general principles and specific substantive areas of law.

Particular attention is given to issues such as:

  • the general principles of civil and commercial law;
  • the commercial law-making process;
  • the relationship between law, administration and policy;
  • the principles that infuse the rapidly growing body of commercial law;
  • incorporation of foreign law and legal concepts;  
  • implementation and enforcement of commercial law and regulation.

Among the topics ordinarily covered in the module are:

  • categorisation of types of law especially relevant for commercial activity;
  • general principles of civil law;
  • contract law;
  • company and enterprise law;
  • law relating to foreign trade and investment;
  • property law;
  • law governing securities markets;
  • banking law;
  • intellectual property law;
  • anti-monopoly law;
  • commercial dispute resolution;  
  • enterprise bankruptcy law.

The module presumes no prior knowledge of Chinese language.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • objectives of the module focus primarily on the study and understanding of contemporary Chinese commercial law, especially as found in the People’s Republic of China since 1979;
  • a comprehensive examination on those fundamental and important substantive areas of commercial law and practice, such as company and enterprise law, contract law, foreign trade and investment law;
  • a grasp of key features of the commercial law and regulation and their development in China’s economic reform and transformation towards market economy;
  • a comprehensive understanding of various branches of commercial law and regulation and their practical importance and application;
  • a familiarity with key terms and phrases in Chinese and their translations related to commercial law and commercial legal documents;
  • a familiarity with a broad body of literatures, including comparative studies, on modern Chinese commercial law from Chinese and foreign scholars and practitioners;
  • an ability to search and identify relevant commercial legislative and regulatory documents of both national and local, as well as relevant judicial interpretations, cases of the court and arbitral institutions.  

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (4000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

Suggested reading

  • Bu, Yuanshi (ed.), Chinese business law, München, Germany; C.H. Beck; Oxford, U.K.; Portland, OR: Hart Pub.; [Baden-Baden]: Nomos, 2010.
  • Chen, Jianfu, Chinese Law: context and transformation, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008.
  • Wang, Guiguo, Wang’s Business Law of China, Fourth Edition, Hong Kong: LexisNexis; London: LexisNexis Butterworths Tolley, 2003.
  • Zhu, Sanzhu (2007) Securities Dispute Resolution in China, Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate. (In particular, Chapter 1, pp. 7-41, “The Legal, Regulatory and Judicial Framework”, Chapter 7, pp. 197-231, “The Development of Securities Dispute Resolution in China”.
  • Zhu, Sanzhu (ed.) (2011) Law and Institutions of Modern China, (4 Volumes Collection: Vol. I Legal Development of the People’s Republic of China; Vol. II Legal Institutions of the People’s Republic of China; Vol. III Constitution and Basic Laws of the People’s Republic of China; Vol. IV Chinese Law and Institutions in the Twenty-First Century), Routledge, 2011.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules