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Criminal Law must not be misused to intervene in economic disputes

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-08 07:58
[Photo by Hao Yanpeng/China Daily]

ON MONDAY, the Supreme People's Court instructed judicial departments to resolutely avoid treating economic disputes as crimes. Qianjiang Evening comments:

The supreme court released the instruction after Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, urged better protection of private business owners' property rights and legal interests, last week.

To put it bluntly, as required by the instruction, the judicial departments must prevent the crime of illegal business operations and the crime of contract swindling-two accusations based on the Criminal Law-being misused when dealing with economic disputes.

The supreme court has also called for the legal clauses that are contradictory to the principle of equality and justice for the private economy to be abolished or amended.

Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, the development of the private economy has been directly related to the relaxing of legal and institutional restrictions upon it. Nowadays, the legal status of the private economy has been written into the Constitution. Were it not for a flourishing private economy, it would have been almost impossible for the Chinese economy to weather the various storms that it has encountered in recent years.

The main problem the private economy faces today is the judicial authorities' misuse of the Criminal Law in economic disputes that should be settled out of court or through civil actions.

The crux of the matter is the tendency for some government officials to directly meddle and intervene in such cases-mostly for their own vested interests-and pressure the judicial authorities to criminalize the defendants in economic disputes.

The supervisory, discipline inspection departments and other anti-corruption organs are obliged to prevent power-holders audaciously stepping across their boundary to pervert justice for their own ends.

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