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May 26, 2020

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Shanghai ups support for business

Shanghai will improve its business environment and ensure equality, fair play and transparency, said Li Qiang, Party secretary of Shanghai, during the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress.

Li, also a deputy to the congress, made the comments when discussing a draft civil code set to be voted on during the session.

“The code will play an important role in the development of the market economy in China and the protection of legal rights for all civil subjects,” he said.

Li said Shanghai will strive to make the rule of law “a significant mark of the city’s core competitiveness.”

Gong Zheng, acting mayor of Shanghai, said the government will improve its efficiency and governance with the new civil code to protect people’s rights and increase their welfare.

Other deputies from Shanghai also backed the draft and some gave advice on revisions, especially on business-related issues.

Chen Mingbo, vice secretary general of the Shanghai government, suggested the civil code further support businesses to secure credit, as China’s ranking in this regard in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report has dropped.

“Guarantees on movable assets are a major way for businesses to get credit, but current laws in China don’t offer enough support for this,” he said.

Xu Lirong, director of the board of COSCO Shipping, noted that the draft allows shippers to unilaterally demand carriers to stop service and return goods or change arrival ports.

Xu said this runs counter to the duties of shippers and carriers to fulfill their contracts. In practice, this could infringe the rights of other shippers.

Chen Jingying, vice president of East China University of Political Science and Law and a business law expert, noted that the draft allows shippers to demand from carriers a refund of the freight fees in cases where the goods are destroyed due to force majeure, but in law, parties should be able to cancel the contract with no obligation.

And as a practice of the international shipping industry, prepaid freight fees are not to be returned in any case.


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