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Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China

Adopted by the Second Session of the Fifth National People's Congress on July 1, 1979 and amended by the Fifth Session of the Eighth National People's Congress on March 14, 1997

Part I     General Provisions

Chapter I   Tasks, Basic Principles, and Scope of Application of the Criminal Law

Article 1.   This law is formulated in accordance with the Constitution and in light of the concrete experience of China launching a struggle against crime and the realities in the country, with a view to punishing crime and protecting the people.

Article 2.   The tasks of the PRC Criminal Law are to use punishment struggle against all criminal acts to defend national security, the political power of the people's democratic dictatorship, and the socialist system; to protect state-owned property and property collectively owned by the laboring masses; to protect citizens' privately owned property; to protect citizens' right of the person, democratic rights, and other rights; to maintain social and economic order; and to safeguard the smooth progress of the cause of socialist construction.

Article 3.   Any act deemed by explicit stipulations of law as a crime is to be convicted and given punishment by law and any act that no explicit stipulations of law deems a crime is not to be convicted or given punishment.

Article 4.   Every one is equal before the law in committing crime. No one is permitted to have privileges to transgress the law.

Article 5.   The severity of punishments must be commensurate with the crime committed by an offender and the criminal responsibility he bears.

Article 6.   This law is applicable to all who commit crimes within the territory of the PRC except as specially stipulated by law.

This law is also applicable to all who commit crimes aboard a ship or aircraft of the PRC.

When either the act or consequence of a crime takes place within PRC territory, a crime is deemed to have been committed within PRC territory.

Article 7.   This law is applicable to PRC citizens who commit the crimes specified in this law outside the territory of the PRC; but those who commit the crimes, provided that this law stipulates a minimum sentence of less than a three-year fixed-term imprisonment for such crimes, may not be dealt with.

This law is applicable to PRC state personnel and military personnel who commit the crimes specified in this law outside PRC territory.

Article 8.   This law may be applicable to foreigners, who outside PRC territory, commit crimes against the PRC state or against its citizens, provided that this law stipulates a minimum sentence of not less than a three-year fixed term of imprisonment for such crimes; but an exception is to be made if a crime is not punishable according the law of the place where it was committed.

Article 9.   This law is applicable to the crimes specified in international treaties to which the PRC is a signatory state or with which it is a member and the PRC exercises criminal jurisdiction over such crimes within its treaty obligations.

Article 10.   Any person who commits a crime outside PRC territory and according to this law bear criminal responsibility may still be dealt with according to this law even if he has been tried in a foreign country; however, a person who has already received criminal punishment in a foreign country may be exempted from punishment or given a mitigated punishment.

Article 11.   The problem of criminal responsibility of foreigners who enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunity is to be resolved through diplomatic channels.

Article 12.   If an act committed after the founding of the PRC and before the implementation of this law was not deemed a crime under the laws at that time, the laws at that time are to be applicable. If the act was deemed a crime under the laws at that time, and if under the provisions of Chapter IV, Section 8 of the general provisions of this law it should be prosecuted, criminal responsibility is to be investigated according to the laws at that time. However, if this law does not deem it a crime or imposes a lesser punishment, this law is to be applicable.

The effective judgments that were made according to the laws at that time before the implementation of this law will continue to be in force.


Chapter II   Crimes

Section 1.   Crimes and Criminal Responsibility

Article 13.   All acts that endanger the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of the state; split the state; subvert the political power of the people's democratic dictatorship and overthrow the socialist system; undermine social and economic order; violate property owned by the state or property collectively owned by the laboring masses; violate citizens' privately owned property; infringe upon citizens' rights of the person, democratic rights. and other rights; and other acts that endanger society, are crimes if according to law they should be criminally punished. However, if the circumstances are clearly minor and the harm is not great, they are not to be deemed crimes.

Article 14.   An intentional crime is a crime constituted as a result of clear knowledge that one's own act will cause socially dangerous consequences, and of hope for or indifference to the occurrence of those consequences.

Criminal responsibility shall be borne for intentional crimes.

Article 15.   A negligent crime occurs when one should foresee that one's act may cause socially dangerous consequences but fails to do so because of carelessness or, having foreseen the consequences, readily assumes he can prevent them, with the result that these consequences occur.

Criminal responsibility is to be borne for negligent crimes only when the law so stipulates.

Article 16.   Although an act objectively creates harmful consequences, if it does not result from intent or negligence but rather stems from irresistible or unforeseeable causes, it is not a crime.

Article 17.   A person who has reached the age of eighteen who commits a crime shall bear criminal responsibility.

A person who has reached the age of fourteen but not the age of eighteen who commits the crimes of intentionally killing another or intentionally injuring another, even causing serious injury or death, and the crimes of rape, robbery, drug trafficking, arson, explosion, and poisoning shall bear criminal responsibility.

A person who has reached the age of fourteen but not the age of eighteen who commits a crime shall be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment.

When a person is not criminally punished because he has not reached the age of eighteen, the head of his family or guardian is to be ordered to subject him to discipline. When necessary, he may also be given shelter and rehabilitation by the government.

Article 18.   A mentally ill person who causes dangerous consequences at a time when he is unable to recognize or unable to control his own conduct is not to bear criminal responsibility after being established through accreditation of legal procedures; but his family or guardian shall be ordered to subject him to strict surveillance and arrange for his medical treatment. When necessary, he will be given compulsory medical treatment by the government.

A person whose mental illness is of an intermittent nature shall bear criminal responsibility if he commits a crime during a period of mental normality.

A mentally ill person who commits a crime at a time when he has not yet completely lost his ability to recognize or control his own conduct shall bear criminal responsibility but he may be given a lesser or a mitigated punishment.

An intoxicated person who commits a crime shall bear criminal responsibility.

Article 19.   A deaf-mute or a blind person who commits a crime may be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.

Article 20.   Criminal responsibility is not to be borne for an act of legitimate defense that is under taken to stop present unlawful infringement of the state's and public interest or the rights of the person, property or other rights of the actor or of other people and that causes harm to the unlawful infringer.

Criminal responsibility shall be borne where legitimate defense noticeably exceeds the necessary limits and causes great harm. However, consideration shall be given to imposing a mitigated punishment or to granting exemption from punishment.

Criminal responsibility is not to be borne for a defensive act undertaken against ongoing physical assault, murder, robbery, rape, kidnap, and other violent crimes that seriously endanger personal safety that causes injury or death to the unlawful infringer since such an act is not an excessive defense.

Article 21.   Criminal responsibility is not to be borne for damage resulting from an act of urgent danger prevention that must be undertaken in order to avert the occurrence of present danger to the state or public interest or the rights of the person, property rights, or other rights of the actor or of other people.

Criminal responsibility shall be borne where urgent danger prevention exceeds the necessary limits and causes undue harm. However, consideration shall be given according to the circumstances to imposing a mitigated punishment or to granting exemption from punishment.

The provisions of the first paragraph with respect to preventing danger to oneself do not apply to a person who bears specific responsibility in his post or profession.

Section 2.   Preparation for a Crime, Criminal Attempt and Discontinuation of a Crime

Article 22.   Preparation for a crime is preparation of the instruments or creation of the conditions for the commission of a crime.

One who prepares for a crime may, in comparison with one who consummates the crime, be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.

Article 23.   Criminal attempt occurs when a crime has already begun to be carried out but is not consummated because of factors independent of the will of the criminal element.

One who attempts to commit a crime may, in comparison with one who consummates the crime, be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment.

Article 24.   Discontinuation of a crime occurs when, during the process of committing a crime, the actor voluntarily discontinues the crime or voluntarily and effectively prevents the consequences of the crime from occurring.

One who discontinues a crime shall be exempted from punishment when there is no harm done or be given a mitigated punishment when there is harm done.

Section 3.   Joint Crimes

Article 25.   A joint crime is an intentional crime committed by two or more persons jointly.

A negligent crime committed by two or more persons jointly is not to be punished as a joint crime; those who should bear criminal responsibility are to be punished separately according to the crimes they have committed.

Article 26.   A principal offender is one who organizes and leads a criminal group in conducting criminal activities or plays a principal role in a joint crime.

A crime syndicate is a more or less permanent crime organization composed of three or more persons for the purpose of jointly committing crimes.

The head who organizes or leads a crime syndicate shall bear criminal responsibility for all the crimes committed by the syndicate.

A principal offender other that the one stipulated in the third paragraph shall bear criminal responsibility for all the crimes he participated in, organized, or directed.

Article 27.   An accomplice is one who plays a secondary or supplementary role in a joint crime.

An accomplice shall, in comparison with a principal offender, be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.

Article 28.   One who is coerced to participate in a crime shall, according to the circumstances of his crime, be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.

Article 29.   One who instigates others to commit a crime shall be punished according to the role he plays in the joint crime. One who instigates a person under the age of eighteen to commit a crime shall be given a heavier punishment.

If the instigated person does not commit the instigated crime, the instigator may be given a lesser punishment or a mitigated punishment.

Section 4.   Crimes Committed by a Unit

Article 30.   A company, enterprise, institution, organization, or group which commits an act endangering society that is considered a crime under the law shall bear criminal responsibility.

Article 31.   A unit responsible for a criminal act shall be fined. The person in charge and other personnel who are directly responsible shall also bear criminal responsibility. Where there are other stipulations in the Special Provisions of this Law or other laws, those stipulations shall apply.


Chapter III   Punishments

Section 1.   Types of Punishments

Article 32.   Punishments are divided into principal punishments and supplementary punishments.

Article 33.   The types of principal punishments are:

    (1) control;

    (2) Criminal detention;

    (3) fixed-term imprisonment;

    (4) life imprisonment; and

    (5) The death penalty.

Article 34. &nbs