Check the latest legislative reforms on consumer law protection in China - do they work? An analysis by Professor Hu

In this essay, Professor Hu embarks on a very complex and thorny topic: the new legislative framework of China’s Tort Liability system and its broader implications on product safety and liability, and consumer protection. It examines historically and critically the legislative steps that led to the last tendencies and innovations on the regulation of product safety and civil liabilities of producers, its functions and practical repercussions. By doing so, it offers an up-to-date picture of the pros and cons of this field in China – enriched by concrete cases and scholarly discussions. The analysis starts by pointing out that this field is marked by contradiction: on the one hand the Government has increasingly introduced stricter rules and legal norms on product safety but on the other hand the consumer safety cases with serious damage constantly arise. The question How this is possible? Or how could it be explained? Firstly, the Author denounces that the legislative materials all together lack specific definitions of the product quality/product safety distinction. Secondly, the “top-down” model of regulation is examined. In short, what is underlined here is that this system is focused on an “ex ante” supervision: according to the law, the national product quality supervision department carry out random supervision inspections, and those national inspections will determine the product’s quality based on national and local standards. In the following chapter, Professor Hu goes on discussing in great detail the cases of Fuyang powder-milk accident (occurred in 2002) and melanine milk powder accident (occurred in 2007) and how these cases triggered new legislative regulations, now included in Chapter V of the Tort Law, especially in relation to food law. In conclusion, Professor Hu offers a key instrument for those (academics or practitioners) interested in China’s latest legal reforms, explained through relevant cases and discussions.