A Guide to China's Tax and Business Laws, and: Commercial Laws in the People's Republic of China: Regulation and Reform Affecting the Market (review)
- China Review International
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 1997
- pp. 134-136
- Additional Information
134 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 Howard Gensler and Jiliang Yang. A Guide to China's Tax and Business Laws. Hong Kong: FT Law and Tax Asia Pacific, 1995. xv, 379 pp. Paperback , isbn 962-661-001-8. Bryan S. Bachner and H. L. Fu. Commercial Laws in the People's Republic ofChina: Regulation and Reform Affecting theMarket. Singapore: Butterworths Asia, 1995. xix, 247 pp. Paperback, isbn 0-409-99796-x. Perhaps no area of China's legal system is developing faster than the field ofcommercial law. Encompassing corporate governance, taxation, and the regulation of access to the domestic and international capital markets, the importance of commercial law has grown in tandem with the development and "opening up" of China's economy. Not coincidentally, it is also the area ofChinese law which most involves foreign lawyers. Sadly, many American lawyers assigned to projects in China or Hong Kong lack the language skills or the background needed to understand the role oflaw, as well as the specific provisions ofthe individual laws, in commercial transactions in China. Two recent publications attempt to meet, in very different ways, the needs of foreign lawyers servicing clients in China. A Guide to China's Tax and Business Laws is a bilingual presentation ofprimary sources oflaw (statutes and regulations ) prefaced by explanatory notes. In contrast, Commercial Laws in the People's Republic ofChina contains a collection ofpapers, written by a diverse group of Chinese government officials and legislators, which summarizes the present state ofcommercial law in the PRC and offers suggestions for future legislative efforts. The authoritative Chinese codification oflaws and regulations, the Huibian, is often difficult to use and often out ofdate. As a result, lawyers and academics are commonly reduced to scanning newspaper articles in order to find the text of a recently promulgated law, and obtaining complete versions of Chinese tax laws is an especially difficult endeavor. A Guide to China's Tax and Business Laws addresses this situation quite well. The Guide collects the major pieces of tax, accounting , and corporate governance legislation, and presents them side-by-side with an (unofficial) English translation. This is exacdy the kind ofinformation that the practicing lawyer needs, and the dual-column approach allows the foreign lawyer to locate quickly fhe relevant provision in the English column, and then switch to Chinese for purposes ofparsing the statute or regulation. It is un-© 1997 by University clear, however, why the authors chose to publish a single, softcover volume. The ofHawai'iPressmore common approach in this situation would be a loose-leafservice, where new material is periodically added to the original set ofmaterials, and amended or repealed laws are updated or discarded. Reviews 135 The Guideis full ofrather precise translations ofthe text ofthe laws, but its real contribution is its treatment of the numeric calculations that appear in the tax laws. These formulas, used in computing certain categories ofincome, are more prose than symbolic representation in the Chinese original. The Guide's translators transform them into purely mathematical representations, through the use ofclearly defined variables and standard notation. This representation ofincome calculations in the translation column is so much clearer than the original text that it may even prove valuable to native speakers of Chinese. Each law in the Guide is prefaced by a short legislative history. Often, knowing why a law was promulgated or amended is more valuable than the text ofthe current draft, especially if a particular issue predates the present incarnation of the statute or regulation. Here the editors deserve criticism, though not because these prefaces are not useful; the situation is quite the opposite. In fact, these histories are worth reading in their own right, and the editors should have encouraged the translators to include longer and more detailed prefaces. Commercial Laws in the People's Republic ofChina is a different kind ofbook. It is a compilation ofpapers, in both the original Chinese and English translation, presented by mainland legal scholars and government officials at a 1994 conference on "China's Company, Securities and Arbitration Law," held in Beijing under the auspices of the Center for Chinese and Comparative Law of the City University of Hong Kong. The book...