Later in 2018 the NZCFS will arrange a Lawyers tour to China. The tour will give New
Zealand legal practitioners a chance to learn about the Chinese system. In light of this I
decided to do a bit of research and find some of China’s more interesting laws. Some the
laws were local government laws, some date back to imperial China.
1. In 2013, the BBC reported that China introduced a new Elderly Rights Law, which,
among other things, required adult children to visit their ageing parents. The law actually
serves an important social purpose, as it’s aimed at curtailing loneliness among the elderly.
In China, family systems are extremely important, and the law essentially codifies an age-
old practice (pun) of frequently visiting elderly parents. There are however several
loopholes in this law, the biggest being the law doesn’t specify how often children need to
visit their parents.
2. A county in Guizhou Province came up with a law to help boost local tourism. The law
ordered its government offices to send visitors to an ancient village, hoping to artificially
boost the attendance numbers and attract more real visitors. The county was hoping to
report 5,000 visitors within the first two months of the policy – it worked!
3. With some striking parallels to the previous law, a county in Hubei instituted another
regulation, ordering its civil servants, as well as employees of state owned enterprises to
buy a local brand of cigarette, the goal was to promote local economic development.
Following the success of that law another Hubei province established a similar law but to
promote the purchase of locally produced baijiu. Luckily central government stepped in a
scrapped the law.
4. During imperial China giving away the secret of silk-making carried the death penalty.
Taking tea plants out of China was also illegal, the story of the great tea theft coming soon!
5. Chinese law forbids households to store more than a ton of explosives in their basement
or cellar. Explosives would include fireworks, however the fact that a law was needed to
regulate this raises many questions.
6. Another local government law enacted by the Beijing city government helps to explain a
lot about the issues with crossing the road. According to Article 40 of Beijing’s traffic laws,
drivers of power- driven vehicles are forbidden to stop at pedestrian crossings, and risk a
fine of RMB 5 or a warning.
7. In both New Zealand and China it is illegal to name your child strangely. While there
have been multiple instances of this law being enforced in New Zealand I was only able to
find one case in China, a child who fortunately avoided being called ‘@’.