With the strong growth of China’s economy, an increasing number of people from Europe and America come to China seeking new job opportunities. According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the amount of foreigners working in China stood at 244,000 end of 2013.

However, as the number of foreigners increases so do the issues. In the face of a new social environment, one needs to be aware of local laws and regulations.

Take as an example criminal responsibility. ‘This Law shall be applicable to anyone who commits a crime within the territory and territorial waters and space of the People’s Republic of China, except as otherwise specifically provided by law.’ It is important to understand that if a foreigner commits a crime in China, he/she will be punished according to local criminal law.

In some cases breaking the Criminal Laws in China may lead to much more severe punishments than in other countries for the same crime. For example, carrying illegal drugs is, in serious cases, punished by death.

Moreover, Article 32 provides that punishments are divided into principal punishments and supplementary punishments. The principal punishments are listed as public surveillance, criminal detention, fixed-term imprisonment, life imprisonment, and the death penalty. The supplementary punishments are as follows; fine, deprivation of political rights, and confiscation of property. If a foreigner is involved in a lawsuit, what means should he use to uphold his legitimate rights and interests? Assume they went through criminal detention due to suspicion of fraud.

Chinese laws dictate that the lawyer must be a Chinese; foreign lawyers cannot handle the case directly.

In the abovementioned situation, how can a foreign suspect entrust a Chinese lawyer to help? In accordance with the provisions of relevant laws (Article 9 and Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations), the suspect can ask the Ambassador or Minister of the consulate in China to entrust a Chinese lawyer in the name of the consulate but, generally speaking, the fee should be paid by the transgressor.

The responsibilities when drunk driving are such that if a foreign diver is drunk driving and violates the traffic regulations, he will be punished by Chinese law.

The traffic department can detain his/her driving license for three-month and fine ¥500. If the driver does not possess a driving license and he/she is drunk driving, he/she will be punished with three months’ detention and ¥2000 penalty.

According to the regulation of the law of road traffic safety of China, drunk driving will receive both administrative and criminal punishment. Precedent cases have shown that the punishment will not be remitted for foreigners who do not know about Chinese law. They will still receive severe punishment.

In addition, as regards administrative violation, when foreigners and foreign organizations are conducting activities in the territory of China they will be administrated by the Chinese government and need to bear the corresponding administrative responsibility if they violate administrative obligations. There are certain measures for foreigners to bear the responsibility, such as departure in a certain time frame, deportation and forbidden to leave etc.

Foreigners who work in China must know about the content of the regulations on administration of foreigners employed in China. “Foreigners who work in China without the permission of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security will get penalty of ¥1000 and in the meantime terminate their work. If the circumstances are serious, they have to leave China in certain time limitation”.

Meanwhile, administrative regulations may cover the odds and ends of life in China, which is also necessary to be known by foreigners. For foreigners to live and avoid trouble in China, the best choice may get to be familiar with certain Chinese laws.


This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completeness.