The main gate of the Supreme People's Court in Beijing.
The front facade of the Supreme People's Court in Beijing China.

The Supreme People's Court (Chinese: 最高人民法院; pinyin: Zuìgāo Rénmín Fǎyuàn) is the highest level of court in the mainland area of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong and Macau, as special administrative regions, have their own separate judicial systems based on British common law traditions and Portuguese civil-law traditions respectively, and are out of the jurisdiction of the Supreme People's Court.

The Supreme People's Court is regarded as the superior appellate forum in China which supervises and governs the procedure of justice by all the special people courts and the local, subordinate courts. It is also the court of last resort in the whole of China.

The court is made up of 340 judges which meet in smaller tribunals to decide cases.

Since March 2013, the President of the Supreme People's Court and Grand Chief Justice has been Zhou Qiang.

The court system consists of a four level, two-hearing system trial process.



  1. Conducting trial of the following cases: first-hearing cases placed with the SPC by laws and regulations and those the SPC deems within its jurisdiction; appeals or protests against trial decisions or verdicts of the higher people's courts and special people's courts; appeals against court judgments lodged by the Supreme People's Procuratorate according to trial supervision procedures.
  2. Giving approval to death sentences.
  3. Supervising the trials by local people's courts and special people's courts at different levels.
  4. On discovering mistakes in the rulings and verdicts of local people's courts already being legally enforced, conducting questioning or appointing a lower level court to conduct re-hearing.
  5. Giving approvals to verdicts on crimes not specifically stipulated in the criminal law.
  6. Offering explanations over the concrete application of laws during the trial process[1]


In 2005, the Supreme People's Court announced its intent to "[take] back authority for death penalty approval" over concerns about “sentencing quality”,[2] and the National People's Congress officially changed the Organic Law on the People's Courts to require all death sentences to be approved by the Supreme People's Court on 31 October 2006.[3] It has been reported that since the new review process, the court has rejected 15 percent of the death sentences decided by lower courts.[4]

Organisational Structure

Courts governed by the SPC:

Departments within the SPC:

Circuit courts:

Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Court

  1. 1949 - 1954: Supreme People's Court of the Central People's Government
  2. 1954 - 1959: Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China under the 1st National People's Congress
  3. 1959 - 1965: 2nd National People's Congress
  4. 1965 - 1975: 3rd National People's Congress
  5. 1975 - 1978: 4th National People's Congress
  6. 1978 - 1983: 5th National People's Congress
  7. 1983 - 1988: 6th National People's Congress
  8. 1988 - 1993: 7th National People's Congress
  9. 1993 - 1998: 8th National People's Congress
  10. 1998 - 2003: 9th National People's Congress
  11. 2003 - 2007: 10th National People's Congress
  12. 2008 - 2013: 11th National People's Congress
  13. 2013 - present: 12th National People's Congress

See also


External links

Coordinates: 39°54′10.7″N 116°24′18.9″E / 39.902972°N 116.405250°E / 39.902972; 116.405250