NPC 2018: China's courts aim to better protect investors as country switches to high-quality growth

Mr Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice and head of the Supreme People's Court, being shown on screen as he reads the work report during the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2018.
Mr Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice and head of the Supreme People's Court, being shown on screen as he reads the work report during the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - With China switching from high-speed to high-quality growth, the country's top court has set building a conducive legal environment for high-quality economic growth as one of its tasks for this year.

It also plans to speed up its development of intelligent courts through the "deep integration" of artificial intelligence and court work among other things, said Mr Zhou Qiang, Chief Justice and head of the Supreme People's Court, on Friday (March 9).

Delivering the top court's work report over the past five years at a plenary meeting of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), or Parliament, Mr Zhou also noted that there was no let-up in efforts to go after corrupt government officials, including "tigers", referring to senior officials, and "flies", junior functionaries.

Some 195,000 corruption cases that involved about 263,000 people were concluded.

Among those he named were former security czar Zhou Yongkang, former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai and former Central Military Commission vice-chairman Guo Boxiong, all of whom are serving life sentences.

Mr Zhou was giving a five-year report because it was the first session of a new Parliament elected between late last year and early this year for a new five-year term.

Among the measures that the top court would take to support China's transition towards high-quality growth are "strengthening legal protection of property rights and legally protecting honesty and sincerity as well as fair competition", said Mr Zhou.

Such measures are to "allow entrepreneurs to concentrate on starting businesses, invest without worry and operate with confidence".

"Properties will be safer and rights better protected," he said to applause from the nearly 3,000 delegates.

In addition, to facilitate the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure along overland and maritime trade routes linking China to Africa and Europe, the top court would also promote the building of a "diversified dispute resolution mechanism".

The top court would also "strengthen foreign-related commercial and maritime trials and set up the Supreme People's Court international commercial court", said Mr Zhou.

As for developing intelligent courts, it involves strengthening the adoption of information technology, integrating artificial intelligence with court work, use of voice recognition in court trials, electronic file generation and other smart case-handling systems.

The NPC on Friday also heard a report from the Supreme People's Procuratorate presented by its head, Mr Cao Jianming.