Published date01 December 2004
Date01 December 2004

His Excellency Mr Xiao Yang, Chief Justice of China, delivered the Singapore Academy of Law Annual Lecture 2003 on 9 September 2003. His Excellency’s speech, delivered in Mandarin, gave an insight into the economic changes that have been sweeping China since the late 1970s, and detailed the series of laws, including changes to China’s Constitution, that have been enacted to promote the development of the market economy.

English translation of the speech

The Honourable the Chief Justice Yong Pung How, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

1 How time flies. It was fifteen years ago that I first visited Singapore. At that time, the beauty and the prosperity of Singapore, and its strong legal and judicial system left an indelible impression on my mind. I am very pleased to meet up with my old friends in Singapore again. My colleagues and I extend our heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to The Honourable the Chief Justice Yong Pung How and all of you present today.

2 As you all know, China is a developing country. We used to be very poor. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “Change will be born out of the chaos of despair; prosperity will arise from the crucible of change; and stability will be secured by the endurance of prosperity.” Ever since China adopted the policy of “reform and opening-up” in the late 1970s, our economy has expanded rapidly at an annual rate of over 7%. The economy has grown four times in size in the last 20 years. In 2002, the volume of China’s foreign trade reached US$620.8bn, ranking the fifth in the world. Foreign direct investment to China exceeded US$52.7bn, and China has replaced the United States to become the world’s largest foreign direct investment recipient for the first time. The overall economic strength of China has ascended in world ranking from the 11th place in the early 1990s to the sixth place. Our per capita GDP increased from about US$300 at the beginning of the 1980s to the current level of almost US$1,000. Most Chinese people have gotten out of poverty and are now leading a relatively well-off life. Although China still has a long way to go to reach the standards of the developed countries, we have already become one of the world’s biggest markets and boast one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

3 Today’s world is one of the rule of law. The prosperity of a nation, the integrity of its politics, the stability of its society, the development of its economy, the solidarity of its ethnic groups, the flourishing of its culture and the contentment and well-being of its people, all hinge upon the maintenance of law and order and the soundness of the legal system. China is no exception. The national strategy of a country determines its future and destiny. At the end of the 20th century, China, with our population of 1.2 billion, publicly

proclaimed to the world that we would adopt the rule of law as...

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