Tag Archives: Role of the Supreme People’s Court

Supreme People’s Court’s Ongoing Contribution to the Revision of the Arbitration Law

Justice Tao Kaiyuan, speaking at the Beijing Arbitration Commission

Among the many issues that I am discussing in my “neverending article” is the role of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in the complicated process of drafting new legislation and amending existing legislation, as is sometimes revealed in the “Services and Safeguards Opinions” about which I write often.  The role of the SPC is for the most part unseen and unnoticed.   Because the Arbitration Law is so critically important to dispute resolution between Chinese and non-Chinese parties,  this blogpost highlights the SPC’s role in the unfinished process of revising the Arbitration Law and includes some of my own comments on the positions taken by the SPC. I flag one particular issue that in my view would benefit from discussion and analysis by those with international arbitration law expertise. 

Justice Tao Kaiyuan participated in a meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)’s Committee on Social and Legal Affairs on 30 May on the Arbitration Law draft revision (link is to the Chinese original) and provided a summary of some of the work of the SPC and lower courts in “pushing forward the progress of amending the Arbitration Law. ”  (Mao Xiaofei of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, International Law Institute has kindly shared her translation into English of the Arbitration Law revision, which includes a comparison with the current text.)

The 2020 document Guiding Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court on the People’s Courts Serving and Guaranteeing the Further Opening Up to the Outside World (最高人民法院关于人民法院服务保障进一步扩大对外开放的指导意见) about which I previously wrote, contains the phrase “push forward the progress of amending the Arbitration Law (and several other laws) (推动仲裁法、海商法、海事诉讼特别程序法等国内商事海事法律的修法进程).  Additionally, the Annual Report on Judicial Review of Commercial Arbitration (2019), edited by the SPC’s #4 Civil Division (I had a cameo role in improving the English version) also mentions the SPC will support the amendment of the Arbitration Law. Persons whose eyes glaze over when reading official documents would miss this curious phrase. Few persons outside of China have access to the Annual Report.   

Xu Liquan, one of the deputy heads of the CPPCC,  also spoke at the 30 May meeting discussing the Arbitration Law draft and revealed arbitration statistics I had not previously seen–that Chinese foreign-related enterprises have a dispute rate of up to 10% ( 涉外企业纠纷发生率高达10%) in cross-border transactions, over 90% select arbitration as the dispute resolution method, but a large majority select arbitration outside of China.   Mr. Xu did not mention the source of these statistics, but I understand them to be derived from a report by the China Arbitration Institute of the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL).   The report summarizes the China Arbitration Institute’s survey of more than 100 foreign-related enterprises recommended by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).  The full report has not yet been made public.

From these statistics, it can be seen that if China wants to be considered a more attractive destination for commercial dispute resolution, improving the Arbitration Law is crucial.

A translation  (amended machine translation) of Justice Tao’s remarks (I surmise they are a summary) follows below, along with some of my own comments in italics

Some background on her remarks, for those who need it: The Ministry of Justice, as the regulator of arbitration institutions, is the institution charged with providing draft amendments to the Arbitration Law to be forwarded to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.  (I myself had the good fortune to be involved in a cameo role in this process as a consultant to the Great Britain China Centre (GBCC) before and during the pandemic. )

The Supreme People’s Court has been actively participating in this work, and supports the revision of an arbitration law that is based on China’s national conditions, draws on international practices, and takes into account the development stage of our country’s arbitration industry.

Justice Tao signals the SPC’s very active involvement in providing input to the Ministry of Justice. It appears from her summary that views from several different divisions and offices of the SPC are reflected in what she said, including the #4 civil division (responsible for international arbitration matters), #3 civil division (intellectual property and anti-monopoly), and the enforcement bureau. I surmise that it will actively involve itself in commenting on the draft of the Arbitration Law when it is considered by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. 

“Drawing on international practices” is a broad term, including the UNCITRAL Model Law and “international practices” of leading courts on arbitration-related issues.  On China’s national conditions, although most foreign practitioners are aware of the top 3-5 Chinese arbitration institutions, the vast majority are funded by local governments. The local arbitration institutions have appointed arbitrators sometimes more for their official position than their knowledge of arbitration, and have management and staff with varying levels of competency. Local lawyers prefer the courts, where an appeal is possible if the initial decision is unfavorable.

Regarding further opening up of the domestic arbitration market and allowing overseas arbitration institutions to conduct business in the Mainland. In recent years, the Supreme People’s Court has successively issued a number of judicial documents to support the introduction of foreign arbitration institutions to set up branches to carry out arbitration business in the construction of Lingang New Area of ​​China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Hainan Free Trade Port and Beijing “two zones” [pilot free trade zone and  service trade zone]. In the next step, we will support the opening of the arbitration market in other pilot free trade zones.

I wrote a report on this almost two years ago. There are many practical issues to be ironed out, and Zero Covid plus the unamended Arbitration Law makes it even less likely that a major foreign arbitration institution will agree to commit to opening an office in China that handles cases.  

Regarding the reasonable expansion of the scope of arbitration cases. We agree with the suggestion that intellectual property, sports, and anti-monopoly disputes be included in the scope of arbitration, but it depends on the type [of dispute], and only civil and commercial disputes should be submitted to arbitration.

There has been a great deal of discussion in China about the arbitrability of intellectual property, sports, and anti-monopoly disputes, with cases having been heard in the courts.   See this detailed discussion of the sports law issues here in an earlier volume of the Beijing Arbitration Commission’s annual volume Commercial Dispute Resolution In China: An Annual Review And Preview by Guo Cai and Jeffrey Benz. On intellectual property issues, a search in Chinese or English will turn up many articles–this one by Baker & McKenzie and this one by the intellectual property firm SIPS are two of many.  The arbitrability of antimonopoly disputes in China has been discussed by both practitioners and academics.  Another highly disputed issue is the scope of the disputes that are arbitrable, linked to the definition of “civil and commercial” disputes in the areas of intellectual property and anti-monopoly law.

However, we suggest further research on whether the international investment arbitration between the host country and the investor should be regulated by the Arbitration Law. First, international investment arbitration is different from commercial arbitration, and it is suggested to retain the provision that commercial arbitration applies to civil and commercial disputes between equal parties. Second, the investment protection agreement signed by my country provides different solutions to international investment disputes. According to the commercial reservation statement made when our country joined the “Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards”, the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards disputed between the host country and investors, the Convention does not apply.

Some of the Belt & Road “Services and Safeguards Opinions” have flagged investment arbitration as an issue of concern. Enabling investment arbitration in China involves a number of interlinked issues. I recommend Professor Chi Manjiao’s recent article on the many complicated issues related to improving Chinese law on investment arbitration. 

Regarding the boundary between confidentiality and disclosure of information in the process of judicial review of arbitration. We agree with the suggestion that the advantage of arbitration confidentiality should be maintained in arbitration judicial review cases.  It is difficult to make specific provisions in the Arbitration Law drawing the line between confidentiality and transparency, and it is suggested that it can be resolved through judicial interpretation. In judicial practice, judges do not involve facts irrelevant to arbitration judicial review when writing documents. The parties may also request the people’s court not to disclose the judgment documents on the grounds that the case involves personal privacy and commercial secrets. In the future, it may be considered to establish clearer rules to further balance the relationship between arbitration confidentiality and judicial openness.

Drawing the line between confidentiality and transparency is an issue worldwide, so it makes sense to leave this matter to the SPC to provide more detailed rules through a judicial interpretation.

On the protection of the rights and interests of third parties (案外人). The Arbitration Law should protect the legitimate rights and interests of third parties, but the current draft amendment to the Arbitration Law [Article 84] stipulates that the prerequisite for a third party to challenge the subject matter of enforcement is that the enforcement has not yet been completed, and even if the grounds are valid and the People’s Court decides to terminate the enforcement, it still cannot negate the validity of the arbitral award that has harmed his or her legitimate rights and interests, and this situation is particularly prominent when the parties to an arbitration case apply for arbitration in bad faith or sham arbitration. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce a system of application for setting aside an arbitral award by a third party, so as to fundamentally solve the problem that the current system of remedies for third parties in the draft amendment is insufficient to adequately protect their lawful rights and interests.  

This is the section that I hope will attract discussion by those highly knowledgeable about arbitration law.  Article 84 of the consultation draft of the Arbitration Law gives third parties in [domestic] arbitration enforcement proceedings the right to challenge the subject matter of the enforcement. Justice Tao is taking the view that the remedies for third parties in the draft are insufficient, and third parties should have the right to apply to a court to set aside the arbitral award at the enforcement stage.  It appears that Justice Tao was persuaded by the views of the SPC’s Enforcement Bureau, as set forth in an article published a year ago by Judge Shao Changmao, head of one of its offices. Silence by other divisions does not necessarily signal agreement.

In my view, incorporating such a provision in the Arbitration Law could lead to even more challenges to arbitral awards and appears to signal a return to earlier law, in which courts could set aside domestic arbitral awards.  It likely reflects the SPC’s concern with stopping sham dispute resolution, whether it is sham litigation (subject to criminal penalties) sham mediation (about which I have written earlier), or sham arbitration. However, it could lead to the “cure being worse than the disease.”  The Chinese arbitration community is likely to take the view that this will not be helpful in making China become a more attractive destination for cross-border arbitration. 

I surmise that incorporating this provision would make major international arbitration institutions more reluctant to establish case management offices in China. It would mean that Chinese courts could set aside their awards, which they could not do if the award was considered to have been made outside the mainland.  I look forward to further discussion by the international arbitration community on the appropriateness of incorporating such a  provision in the Arbitration Law.

Finally, amending the Arbitration Law, from my own brief involvement in the process and discussions with persons involved, is more complex that it appears but is a crucially important matter for the future of Chinese and China-related dispute resolution. Once the law is finalized, the process deserves a study of its own.  The final version of the amended Arbitration Law will be an indication of the balance between internationalization (harmonization with international practice) and Chinese characteristics.

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Many thanks to three anonymous peer reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this blogpost.

My apologies to the patient followers of this blog for the long gap between blogposts.

Decoding the Supreme People’s Court’s Services and Safeguards Opinions

I recently published a short article on the Perspectives blog of the  New York University School of Law U.S. -Asia Law Institute, with the same name as this post, linked here.  I am posting a “homemade” PDF version temporarily and will replace it when an official one is available. I am close to finishing a longer version of the same article. The research on which this article is based draws on discussions with many persons who cannot be thanked by name and others who will be whenever the longer version is published.

About a year ago, I published an article on the same blog, entitled Why I Research China’s Supreme People’s Court.   The PDF version is available here.

Many thanks to Katherine Wilhelm, Executive Director of the U.S. -Asia Law Institute, for her skillful editing of both articles.

Why & How the Supreme People’s Court is Providing Services and Safeguards for the Unified Market Policy

Press conference, at which representatives from the SPC’s Research Office, Civil Division #2 and #3 spoke, as well as the SPC spokesperson

In the middle of July (2022), the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued another document providing “judicial services and safeguards” to another major government policy initiative, this one on the work to create a unified market, entitled Opinions on Providing Judicial Services and Safeguards for Accelerating the Construction of a Unified National Market (SPC Unified Market Opinion 最高人民法院关于为加快建设全国统一大市场提供司法服务和保障的意见). (See bilingual version here). It implements the April 2022 Communist Party Center and State Council Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of a Unified National Market.  The SPC also released ten   typical/model/exemplary cases.  These cases provide guidance to the lower courts through specific examples phrased in current political language.   The document and cases are a shining example of the long series of “judicial services and safeguards opinions” that the SPC has issued since 2015. The SPC issued the first one with that title in the Xi Jinping New Era to anticipate legal issues created by the then-new (or relatively new) Belt & Road Strategy.

The SPC Unified Market Opinion reveals a great deal about what is on the agenda of the SPC as well as deeper trends in the development of the Chinese courts in the New Era.  A  summary of what the SPC’s Unified Market Opinion covers and reveals follows, with some comments on what it says about larger trends.

I.  What Does the SPC’s Unified Market Opinion Cover?

The SPC Unified Market Opinion covers many aspects of the work of the courts. only some of which are discussed in this overly long blogpost.  Therefore the SPC’s Research Office took the lead in drafting it, along with the #2 Civil Division, focusing on domestic commercial matters and the #3 Civil Division, focusing on intellectual property matters. For that reason, representatives from those offices spoke at the press conference, along with Justice Yang Wanming, who must have been the SPC leader responsible.  However, it is clear from the document that many other entities within the SPC contributed to the drafting, particularly the #4 Civil Division, which focuses on cross-border commercial matters, including arbitration, maritime, trade and investment issues.  The International Cooperation Bureau, which has substantive responsibilities in addition to its duties under China’s foreign affairs system clearly contributed to it as well.

It is consistent with other judicial services and safeguards opinions for the document to serve as a “package” for judicial measures, broadly understood. Many of the measures are not new to the regular reader of SPC documents, indicating that the problem is important and the related issue has not gone away.

Japanese wrapping cloth, photo ©japanobjects.com

the classic multitool, the Swiss Army Knife

In the SPC’s bureaucratic language contained in the SPC’s press release, the document “coordinates the precise efforts in all areas of the judiciary” (统筹司法各领域精准发力” ). In plain language, it means that measures across all relevant areas of law for which the SPC is involved are incorporated. It also means that different types of measures are included in the package, including relevant administrative matters.

The function of coordinating with Party and state institutions, about which I wrote last year is described in the press release as “coordinating all forces to implement comprehensive policies 统筹各方力量综合施策.”  Oddly enough, at least one well-known Chinese scholar who has written about the Chinese courts doubted that this is a judicial function.  From these points, it can be seen that this document is a multifunctional tool.

II.  What is On the SPC’s Agenda?

For those of us seeking to monitor what is on the SPC’s judicial interpretation agenda since the SPC stopped publishing its annual agenda,  the SPC Unified Market Opinion has a great deal of useful information.  The document also flags forthcoming judicial policies and related administrative matters that the SPC leadership has approved and a great deal of guidance for the lower courts.  For cross-border matters, because I am more familiar with the SPC’s judicial policies, I will go into greater detail.  In several other areas, I will flag forthcoming judicial interpretations and other important matters.

A.  Cross-border commercial matters

As relates to cross-border commercial matters, Articles 5 and 16 of the SPC Unified Market Opinions signal many matters to the careful reader.

  1.  Judicial interpretations on the ascertainment of laws and application of international treaties and international practice and possibly others are on the agenda. I surmise that they are at an early stage because it says “research shall be conducted.”  It would not be surprising if one or more of the SPC’s Belt & Road Research Bases would be tasked with providing research.  If that is so, given the usual gap between academic research and the requirements of the Chinese courts, it will be some time before drafts of these judicial interpretations are circulating within the court system and among selected experts.
  2.  Another topic on the judicial interpretation agenda, seemingly again at an early stage, is one on jurisdiction over foreign-related civil and commercial cases tried by the courts of first instance.  I surmise that this is linked to last year’s reforms to the four levels of the Chinese courts and is likely to involve centralized jurisdiction over cross-border cases (foreign and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), as has been the trend thus far.
  3. One sentence flags developments related to service of process and possibly collection of evidence, although the latter is not specifically mentioned.  It calls for judicial assistance to be strengthened [improved], foreign-related service mechanisms to be improved, and work to commence on a  unified electronic platform for the service of process abroad.   As mentioned earlier, Greater Bay Area policy documents have included this.  Chinese Civil Procedure Law permits electronic service of process from China, although no mention is made of being more flexible in the service of process from abroad to China.   The latter matter would involve the Ministry of Justice, which is designated as the Central Authority under the relevant Hague Conventions.
  4. Another early stage project is  “promoting the construction of a system for the extraterritorial application of Chinese laws to legally protect the lawful rights and interests of enterprises and citizens that go global.” So I believe that we will eventually see more Chinese legislation providing for extraterritorial jurisdiction (or what is called in Chinese discourse, “longarm jurisdiction”), and likely eventually judicial interpretations.  This language suggests that the SPC takes the view that its expertise is needed in the drafting of such legislation because its judges would be able to thoroughly consider what type of system will not cause further decoupling of interactions between China and the outside world.
  5. There is language about improving the operation of the China International Commercial Court, the expert committee, and the affiliated one-stop platform.  It appears from the language that some procedural rules are needed.
  6. Article 5 has a long reminder to lower court judges on “correctly applying” foreign investment law, foreign (non-mainland Chinese) law, international treaties and practice, as well as equally treating domestic and foreign-funded companies.  So it appears that additional training is needed for lower court judges if the Chinese courts are to become a preferred jurisdiction for international commercial dispute resolution, as the political leadership would like the Chinese courts to be.
  7. Article 16 focuses on improving the connection between domestic laws and international rules., highlighting improving domestic rules as well as foreign-related ones (as addressed in at least one blogpost last year).  Much of Chinese legislation is domestically focused and is inconsistent with international practice.  The Construction Law’s prohibition on subcontracting is one example, that often arises in dispute resolution in BRI projects.  As this article explains, Chinese general contractors often subcontract part of their projects to other Chinese companies in Chinese law-governed contracts (regardless of the requirements of local law), in violation of Chinese law.  It also mentions modernizing China’s foreign-related adjudication system and capacity, which I understand to be a signal that the SPC would like to see changes to the foreign-related section of the Civil Procedure Law as well as resources allocated to the training of judges hearing foreign-related cases (see last year’s blogpost for further details).
  8. Two of the model cases concern foreign-related matters–one on foreign investment law, the other on maritime law, the latter signaling the accomplishments of the Chinese courts in resolving disputes at source and mediating to conclusion a dispute with a foreign arbitration clause.

B. Other Areas of Law

When read together, the other provisions of the SPC Unified Market Opinion can be seen as an assessment of the state of legality and the economy after ten years of documents issued by the political leadership as well as SPC (and other institutions).  The impact of multiple campaigns, regulatory and otherwise, and the grip of government on the economy is visible.   Many new and forthcoming developments are visible as well, such as the implementation of Chinese government undertakings concerning climate change and the challenge of new forms of employment.

Abuse of Administrative and Prosecutorial Power

Articles 3 and 4, entitled  “helping the implementation of unified market entry” and “enhancing equal protection of property rights” provide guidance to lower courts on trying cases related to abuses of administrative power that harm business, the misuse of administrative power to exclude or restrict competition. property, and the abuse of prosecutorial power that transforms a business dispute into a criminal case.  The language “it is imperative to improve the mechanism for petition and retrial, etc. of enterprise-related property right cases and refine the mechanism for effective prevention and correction of wrongful convictions” signals that the many documents issued to protect the interests of private entrepreneurs have not been effective and that the campaign (now normalized) to sweep out organized crime and get rid of evil (saohei 扫黑除恶) has likely resulted in another group of persons wrongfully convicted. That section and one of the model cases also signal that the protection of private property rights in criminal cases continues to be a problem.

Bankruptcy

Article 6 focuses on bankruptcy (insolvency) law. In addition to a long list of guidance, it mentions the SPC facilitating (推动) amendments to the Bankruptcy Law and legislation on individual bankruptcy.    SPC President Zhou Qiang has received delegations from the NPC working on the drafting of the Bankruptcy Law several times, and it is likely that staff-level interactions occur much more often.

Another matter to note in that article is the establishment of the normalized  “government-court interaction” coordination mechanism (常态化“府院联动”协调机制).  SPC judges who have spoken about this mention that the coordination mechanism faces many barriers, but it is a fact that in the Chinese context, bankruptcy cannot proceed without the assistance of local governments.

Quickly mentioned

Article 7 is on enforcement, and mentions that the SPC will cooperate (presumably with the NPC Standing Committee and its Legislative Affairs Commission) on efforts relating to the Civil Compulsory Enforcement Law and amend or otherwise issue a judicial interpretation to enforce it.

Article 8 is on unifying the urban and rural land markets.  In addition to a great deal of guidance, it mentions that to adapt to the adjustments of land supply policies, the standards for the hearing cases involving disputes over the assignment and transfer of the right to use state-owned land shall be unified. It does not specify the form that the unification will take.

Article 9 relates to the securities and financial markets.  In addition to a great deal of guidance, it mentions that the SPC will improve rules (审 理规则)  for hearing new types of cases:  private equity investment, entrusted wealth management, asset securitization, and cross-border financial asset transactions, among others. It flags that the SPC will research legal issues concerning digital currency and mobile payment (I surmise possibly looking to the academic sector for initial research),

Article 10 focuses on the unification of the data and technical market, flagging that judicial safeguards will be provided for the data element market driven by data and the SPC will focus on improving judicial protection of data property rights.

Article 11 relates to energy and the environment.  Those focusing on these issues would be able to write an entire article on this article–I would only mention that the SPC plans to research judicial policy support for achieving the target of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.

Article 12 focuses on the judiciary and business environment, mentioning work on establishing an indicator system consistent with China’s national conditions and international standards; issuing judicial interpretations and judicial policies providing services and safeguards for the business environment, and cooperating with relevant functional departments (unspecified有关职能部门), in promulgating an implementation plan for building a business environment under the rule of law.

Article 13 is devoted to creating a good faith transaction environment.  At least three points to be noted: the issuance of the judicial interpretation of the Contract Part of the Civil Code, work on deep integration of socialist core values with the work of the courts; and exploring paths for better integrating the social credit system with the work of the courts.

Article 14 focuses on regional market integration and Article 15 on improving the linkage of rules between the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, (and mentioned less, Taiwan). The last blogpost explored Greater Bay Area judicial policy in depth.

Article 18 focuses on labor issues, reminding judges that employment discrimination cases should be tried properly but not mentioning the drafting of a judicial interpretation. It flags that the SPC will do research related to a judicial interpretation concerning labor disputes of employees in new business forms.

Article 20 focuses on providing better protection for the consumer.  It mentions improving e rules for hearing cases involving online consumption, mechanisms for trying consumer disputes, work on establishing a  collective litigation system for consumer cases plus a related public interest litigation system and cooperation mechanism with consumer protection authorities.

Article 21 is a long paragraph on anti-monopoly law, so much in this area can be anticipated. It mentions “strengthening” judicial regulation over monopoly by platform enterprises, improving rules for making judgments in competition cases and eventually issuing a judicial interpretation on anti-monopoly civil litigation.  The article on intellectual property law, Article 19, appears to be a summary of current policies.

Article 22, on supervising and supporting market regulators also deserves standalone analysis.  It mentions amending and improving the judicial interpretations relating to public disclosure of government information and cooperating with the procuratorate to  push market regulatory departments to improve their regulatory system  through administrative public interest litigation cases and judicial recommendations. The courts will communicate and cooperate more with the market regulators to unify administrative and judicial rules.

Article 23 focuses on criminal and other violations of market order. On the agenda in this area is a future judicial interpretation on hearing tax-related criminal cases. It also mentions intensifying the punishment of tax evasion by making use of dual contracts and by high-net-worth individuals in culture and entertainment fields. As could be anticipated the judiciary will collaborate with the taxation and public security authorities on tax matters.

Article 24 summarizes SPC policy in support of epidemic prevention and the economy.  I have a forthcoming short article on this topic.

Implications for the Courts

The concluding section (Articles 25-29) of the SPC Unified Market Opinion focuses on the courts themselves. The message from the SPC is that this document is important and that lower court leaders should regard it as an important political task.  This section summarizes recent litigation-related reforms, SPC efforts to unify the application of law, smart courts, and diversified dispute resolution.

III. What Does It Signify About Larger Trends?

I surmise that the SPC issued this document in July so that it could be included in its forthcoming mid-term report to the NPC Standing Committee about the piloting of the reforms to the four levels of the courts. That reform means a shift in focus of the work of the SPC, especially SPC headquarters, to judicial policy, judicial interpretations, and guidance of the lower courts as well as reducing the number of cases the SPC considers.  It is meant to illustrate to the members of the NPC Standing Committee the many contributions the SPC makes when focused on judicial policy, interpretations, and guidance of the lower courts. For that reason, it also appears designed “to welcome” the upcoming 20th Party Congress by showing the relevance of the SPC and the court system to promoting the development of the economy and socialist rule of law (with Chinese characteristics).

Assuming that the mid-term report is approved and the reform of the four levels of the Chinese courts continues to be implemented,  we will see more of such relatively comprehensive judicial services and safeguards opinions promoting the multiple functions of the Chinese courts. These will strengthen the centralizing role of the SPC, or as I have mentioned often in this blog, strengthen the firm guiding hand of the SPC.