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The Great Qing Legal Code (or Great Ching Legal Code), also known as the Qing Code (Ching Code) or, in
Hong Kong law The law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has its foundation in the English common law English law is the common law legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: c ...
, as the ''Ta Tsing Leu Lee'' (大清律例), was the
legal code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of Codification ...

legal code
of the
Qing empire The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
(1644–1912). The code was based on the
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
legal code, the Great Ming Code, which was kept largely intact. Compared to the Ming code which had no more than several hundred
statutes A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
and sub-statutes, the Qing code contained 1,907 statutes from over 30 times of revisions between 1644 and 1912. One of the first of these revisions was in 1660, completed by Wei Zhouzuo and Bahana. The Qing code was the last legal code of
imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...

imperial
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
. By the end of Qing dynasty, it was the only legal code enforced in China for nearly 270 years. Even with the fall of imperial Qing in 1912, the Confucian
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
of social control enshrined in the Qing code remain influential in the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...
-based system of the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
, and later, the
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
-based system of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
. Part of the Qing code were practice in
British Hong Kong Hong Kong was a colony and dependent territory A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency (sometimes referred as an external territory) is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sove ...
until 1971. The code was the end result of a complex legal culture and occupied the central position of the Qing legal system. It showed a high level of continuity with the Tang Legal Code which indicated that there was an active legal tradition at the highest level of Imperial Chinese bureaucracy that had existed for at least a thousand years.


Structure

The Great Qing Code is made up of 436 articles divided into seven parts which are then further subdivided into chapters. The first part (Names and General Rules) is a General Part similar to the General Part of the BGB. The first part contains the general legal rules, principles and concepts that are applied to the rest of the Code. The other six parts are named after the
Six Ministries The Three Departments and Six Ministries () system was the main central government structure in History of China#Imperial China, imperial China from the Sui dynasty (581–618) to the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). It was also used by Balhae (698–9 ...
of government and each part contains laws that are perceived as applicable to each ministry. * First part (Names and General Rules), Articles 1 through 46 - includes but not limited to laws on the Five Punishments (art. 1) and the Ten Great Wrongs (art. 2) * Second part (Laws relating to the Board of Personnel), Articles 47 through 74 - includes but not limited to laws on the System of Offices (ch. 1) and Official Rules for Carrying Public Administration (ch. 2) * Third part (Laws relating to the Board of Revenue), Articles 75 though 156 - includes but not limited to laws on Marriage (ch. 3 - 4; art. 101 - 107) and Taxes (ch.7; art. 141 - 148) * Fourth part (Laws relating to the Board of Rites), Articles 157 through 182 - includes laws on Sacrifices (Ch. 1) and Rules of Demeanor (Ch. 2) * Fifth part (Laws relating to the Board of War), Articles 183 through 253 - includes but not limited to laws on Guarding the Palace (ch. 1, art. 183 - 198) and Military Affairs (ch.2; art. 199 - 219) * Sixth part (Laws relating to the Board of Punishments), Articles 254 to 423 - includes but not limited to laws on Homicide (ch. 8 - 10; art. 282 - 301) * Seventh part (Laws relating to the Board of Works), Articles 424 to 436 - includes laws relating to Construction (ch. 1) and Dikes (ch. 2)


Five Punishments

The five punishments in the code contained in Article 1 are: * The punishment of beating with the light bamboo. * The punishment of beating with the heavy bamboo * Penal Servitude * The punishment of Exile * The penalty of Death.


Nature of the Code

A traditional Chinese legal system was largely in place during the Qing dynasty. The process of the amalgamation of a
Confucian , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...

Confucian
world-view and a legal code was considered complete by the ''
Tang Code The ''Tang Code'' () was a penal code that was established and used during the Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural ...
'' of AD 624. The code was regarded as a model of precision and clarity in terms of drafting and structure.
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (p ...
continued to be the state orthodoxy under the
Song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...
,
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
and
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
dynasties. Throughout the centuries, the Confucian foundations of the ''Tang Code'' were retained with even some aspects strengthened. During the Qing dynasty, criminal justice was based on an extremely detailed criminal code. One element of the traditional Chinese criminal justice system is the notion that criminal law has a moral purpose, one of which is to get the convicted to repent and see the error of his ways. In the traditional Chinese legal system, a person could not be convicted of a crime unless they confessed. This often led to the use of
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

torture
, in order to extract the necessary confession. These elements still influence modern Chinese views toward law. All
death sentences
death sentences
were reported to the capital and required the personal approval of the
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
. There was no
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law Private law is that part of a civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. ...
separate from the
criminal code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, ha ...
, which led to the now discredited belief that traditional Chinese law had no civil law. More recent studies have demonstrated that most of the magistrates' legal work was in civil disputes, and that there was an elaborate system of
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
which used the Qing Code to establish
torts A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...
. The ''Qing Code'' was in form exclusively a criminal code. Its statutes throughout stated as prohibitions and restrictions, and the violation of which was subjected to a range of punishments by a
legalist Legalist, Inc. is a Legal financing, litigation finance company based in San Francisco, California that funds commercial lawsuits on behalf of plaintiff attorneys, applying machine learning algorithms to evaluate its potential investments. History ...
state. In practice, however, large sections of the code and its sub-statutes dealt with matters that would properly be characterised as civil law. The populace made extensive use (perhaps a third of all cases) of the local magistrate courts to bring suits or threaten to sue on a whole range of civil disputes, characterized as "minor matters" in the ''Qing Code''. Moreover, in practice, magistrates frequently tempered the application of the code by taking prevalent local custom into account in their decisions. Filed complaints were often settled among the parties before they received a formal court hearing, sometimes under the influence of probable action by the court.


Qing Code and the West

The ''Great Qing Legal Code'' was the first written Chinese work directly translated into
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
. The translation, known as ''Fundamental Laws of China'' was completed by English traveller Sir George Staunton in 1810. It was the first time the Qing code had been translated into a European language. The French translation was published in 1812. The
First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...
and
Second Opium War The Second Opium War (), also known as the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A gov ...
s between the Qing dynasty and several
Western powers The Western world, also known as the West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east, and is the direction in whic ...

Western powers
led to the forced signing of several
unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between China (mostly referring to the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in t ...
by the Chinese government, which granted subjects of the foreign nations in question
extraterritoriality In international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common con ...
in China, which included being exempted from the Great Qing Legal Code. According to historian Ronald C. Po, foreign exemption from Chinese laws as a result of the unequal treaties "substantially challenged" Chinese control over its maritime border. In the late Qing dynasty, there was a concerted effort to establish legal codes based on
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
an models as a part of the
Self-Strengthening Movement The Self-Strengthening Movement, also known as the Westernization or Western Affairs Movement (–1895), was a period of institutional reforms initiated in China during the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), wa ...
. Due to the German victory in the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire (later the Third French Republic) and the North German Confeder ...
and because
Imperial Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Imperial Japan
was used as the model for political and legal reform, the adopted legal code was modelled closely on that of
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...
.


The end of the Qing Code and its remaining influence

In the early 20th century, with the advent of the "Constitutional Movement", the imperial government was forced by various pressures to quickly modernise its legal system. While the Qing Code remained law, it was qualified and supplemented in quick succession by the '' Outline of the Imperial Constitution'' of 1908 and the ''Nineteen Important Constitutional Covenants'' of 1911, as well as various specialist laws, such as the ''Great Qing Copyright Code'' in 1910. In 1912, the collapse of Qing dynasty ended 268 years of its imperial rule over China and 2000 years of Chinese imperial history came to an end. The Qing court was replaced by the Republic of China government. While some parts of the Qing Code and other late Qing statutes were adopted for "temporary application" by the
Beiyang Government The Beiyang government (), officially the Republic of China (), also sometimes Chinese postal romanization, spelled Peiyang Government or the First Republic of China, refers to the government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic o ...
of the Republic of China, as a general legal position the Qing Code ceased to have effect ''de jure'' due to the dissolution of the Qing state.


Republic of China

The newly founded
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
adopted the existing German-based legal codes, but these codes were not immediately put into practice. Following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1912, China came under the control of rival warlords and had no government strong enough to establish a legal code to replace the Qing code. Finally in 1927,
Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek (31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also known as Chiang Chung-cheng and romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured syst ...

Chiang Kai-shek
's
Kuomintang The Kuomintang (KMT), also referred to as the Guomindang (GMD) or the Chinese Nationalist Party, is a political party in the Taiwan, Republic of China, initially Republic of China (1912–1949), on the Mainland China, Chinese mainland and ...
government attempted to develop Western-style legal and penal systems. Few of the KMT codes, however, were implemented nationwide. Although government leaders were striving for a Western-inspired system of codified law, the traditional Chinese preference for collective social sanctions over impersonal legalism hindered constitutional and legal development. The spirit of the new laws never penetrated to the grass-roots level or provided hoped-for stability. Ideally, individuals were to be equal before the law, but this premise proved to be more rhetorical than substantive. Law in the Republic of China on
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
today is based on the German-based legal system carried to Taiwan by the Kuomintang. The influence of the Qing Code manifests itself in the form of an exceptionally detailed penal code, with a large number of offences punishable by
death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organi ...

death
. For example, in addition to the offence of
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publi ...

piracy
, there are also ''piracy causing grievous bodily harm'' (punishable by death or life imprisonment pursuant to Section 3 of Article 333 of the ''Criminal Code of the Republic of China'' ( 中華民國刑法)), as well as ''piracy causing death'' and ''piracy with arson, rape, kidnapping or murder'' (both entail mandatory death penalty pursuant to Section 3 of Article 333 and Article 334 of the ''Criminal Code''). One legacy from those bygone era is the offence of ''murder of a family member'' (e.g.
patricide Patricide is (i) the act of killing one's own father, or (ii) a person who kills their own father or stepfather. The word ''patricide'' derives from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece ...
and
matricide '' Orestes Pursued by the Furies'' by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Clytemnestra">William-Adolphe_Bouguereau.html" ;"title="Orestes Pursued by the Furies'' by William-Adolphe Bouguereau">Orestes Pursued by the Furies'' by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. ...
). The offence entails life imprisonment or death pursuant to Section 1 of Article 272 of the ''Criminal Code'', even for minors under 18 years old until abolition on July 1, 2006 of Section 2 of Article 63 of the ''Criminal Code'' that allowed for life imprisonment or the death penalty against minors committing crimes under Section 1 of Article 272.


People's Republic of China

In the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
, while the legal system was, and to some extent still is, based on
socialist law Socialist law or Soviet law denotes a general type of legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law or combinations of these. Howe ...
, it incorporates certain aspects of the Qing Code, most notably the notion that offenders should be shamed into repentance - in the form of the practice of parading condemned criminals in public from 1927 (the beginning of the Agrarian Revolutionary War) to 1988, when "the declaration of the
Supreme People's Court The Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China (SPC; ) is the highest court of the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the ...
, the
Supreme People's Procuratorate The Supreme People's Procuratorate also translated as the "Prosecutor General's Office" () is the highest national level agency responsible for both prosecution A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either th ...
and the Ministry of Public Security on resolutely stopping the street display of convicted and unconvicted criminals" was issued.


Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, after the establishment of
British rule The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, ...
in 1841, the Great Qing Legal Code remained in force for the local Chinese population. Until the end of the 19th Century AD, Chinese offenders were still executed by
decapitation Decapitation or beheading is the total separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is invariably fatal to humans and most other animals, since it deprives the brain of oxygenated blood Blood is a body fluid in humans and other a ...

decapitation
, whereas British offenders would be put to death by
hanging Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose A noose is a loop at the end of a rope in which the knot tightens under load and can be loosened without untying the knot. The knot can be used to secure a rope to a post, pole, or animal but ...

hanging
. Even deep into the 20th Century and well after the fall of the Qing dynasty in China, Chinese men in Hong Kong could still practice
polygamy Polygamy (from Late Greek Late Greek means writings in the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family o ...
by virtue of the Qing Code—a situation that was ended only with the passing of the Marriage Reform Ordinance 1970 (Cap.178) which came into force on 7 October 1971. Therefore, the Great Qing Legal Code was actually enforced in some form for a total of 327 years, from 1644 AD to 1971 AD. Because there are still existing alive
concubines Concubinage is an interpersonal relationship, interpersonal and Intimate relationship, sexual relationship between a man and a woman in which the couple does not want, or cannot enter into a full marriage. Concubinage and marriage are often r ...
married before the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap.178), and their rights (of inheritance, and the inheritance rights of their sons and daughters) are respected by the Hong Kong legal system (even after the 1997
handover In cellular telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, Optical system, optical, or other Electromagnetism, electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in t ...
), the Great Qing Legal Code is still admissible in evidence when handling legal cases relating to events that occurred before 1971.


See also

*
Chinese law Chinese law is one of the oldest legal traditions in the world. The core of modern Chinese law is based on Germanic-style Civil law (legal system), civil law, socialist law, and Traditional Chinese law, traditional Chinese approaches. For mo ...
*
Traditional Chinese law Traditional Chinese law refers to the laws, regulations, and rules used in China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geogr ...
*
Law of the People's Republic of China Law of the People's Republic of China, officially referred to as the Socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, is the legal regime of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It i ...
*
Law of Taiwan The law of the Republic of China Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in t ...
*
Five PunishmentsThe Five Punishments () was the collective name for a series of physical penalties meted out by the legal system of pre-modern dynastic China. Over time, the nature of the Five Punishments varied. Before the time of Western Han dynasty The Ha ...
* Ten Abominations


References

*Notes


Further reading

*Bodde, Derk, and Clarence Morris, eds. ''Law in Imperial China: Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing dynasty Cases.'' Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967. *Jones, William C. ''The Great Qing Code: A New Translation'', Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.


External links


The Qing Code
Wallace Johnson, ed. * * * {{Qing dynasty topics Legal codes Legal history of China Qing dynasty Hong Kong law