Six draft sections on specific areas of civil law were submitted to China's top legislature on Monday, beginning the second phase of formulating the country's long-expected civil code.
The drafts were presented to a bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which is expected to run from Monday to Friday.
The first part of the code, General Provisions of the Civil Law, was adopted on March 15 last year and entered into force on Oct. 1.
The General Provisions are based on a 1986 version, also called the General Principles of Civil Law.
Monday's meeting marked the beginning of the second phase, which is expected to run until 2020, according to Shen Chunyao, head of the Legislative Affairs Commission under the NPC Standing Committee.
During this week's session, the six draft sections were submitted as a package but may be put through follow-up readings for further deliberation, reviews, and revisions in different batches, Shen said while presenting the drafts at the opening meeting.
After that, the revised draft sections will be combined with the General Provision to form a draft civil code and submitted to the plenary session of the NPC in March 2020, said Shen.
The six draft sections, namely provisions on property, contract, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and torts, consist of 1,034 articles.
Many of them were copied from existing laws in respective areas, but changes were also proposed.
-- cooling-off period before divorce
The draft stipulates that a divorce application may be revoked by either side of the couple within the cooling-off period of one month after it is received by the authority.
According to Shen, the provision is meant to reduce hasty decisions.
Official statistics revealed that over 4.3 million Chinese couples split up last year, registering a 5.2 percent increase from the previous year. China's divorce rate also rose from two per thousand in 2010 to 3.2 per thousand last year.
Also, considering the changes in the country's demographic situation, provisions related to family planning in current laws are not included in the draft.
-- punitive damages for environmental violations
According to the draft, punitive compensations will be imposed on those who had intentionally violate laws and regulations and damaged the environment.
It also stipulates restoration obligations in cases of such violations.
The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) pledged to intensify ecosystem protection and take tough steps to stop and punish all activities that damage the environment.
The draft also requires parties of a contract to follow conventional practices to save resources and reduce pollution with good faith while performing the contract.
-- personality rights
The draft sets a separate section on the right of personality, in a bid to highlight the protection of citizen's personal dignity.
According to Meng Qiang, a civil law scholar with the China Law Society, the draft clearly spells out the protection of citizens' privacy and personal information.
In response to social concerns, the draft also includes a provision on anti-sexual harassment measures. Employers are required to take reasonable measures to prevent, stop, and deal with complaints about sexual harassment.
Also, the draft is believed to strengthen protection of the honor and reputation of late war heroes, Meng said.
The CPC 19th National Congress report pledged protection of people's personal rights, property rights, and right to dignity.