Should Australian business be interested in The fourth plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Why does business care that the rule of law was a central theme at a gathering of the most important members of the CCP? For Australian business the rule of law, ie the idea that government and leaders, as well as all private and public entities, are equally accountable under the law in the same way as ordinary citizens, is like oxygen – taken for granted as the way things are.
But, for many of our clients the rule of law is more than an abstract issue. Like local Chinese businesses they are concerned about whether they will get a fair hearing before an unbiased arbitrator. This explains what President Xi Jinping meant when he said that “strong and effective law enforcement builds a strong nation, but slack law enforcement weakens a nation” and “in the whole process of reforms, a mindset and governance method under the rule of law must be prioritised and the guiding and driving role of the rule of law should be fully tapped.” Clearly President Xi sees the rule of law as a part of his ambition to deliver the Chinese dream. Is there a place for the rule of law in the wider ambition of “rejuvenating” China?