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Foreign State Immunity Law of the People’s Republic of China

Promulgation Date: 2023-9-1
Title: Foreign State Immunity Law of the People’s Republic of China 
Document Number:
Expiration date: 
Promulgating Entities: Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Source of text: http://www.npc.gov.cn/npc/c30834/202309/f4b3f3d2ac9e4483ab2362ba03e555bb.shtml

Article 1This Law is formulated on the basis of the Constitution to improve the system of foreign state immunity, to clarify the jurisdiction of courts of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over civil cases involving foreign states and their property, to protect the lawful rights and interests of litigants, to safeguard the equality of state sovereignty, and to promote friendly exchanges with foreign countries.

Article 2: “Foreign states” as used in this Law includes:

(1) foreign sovereign states;

(2) state organs or constituent parts of foreign sovereign states;

(3) organizations or individuals who are authorized by foreign sovereign states to exercise sovereign authority and who engage in activities on the basis of such authorization.

Article 3: Foreign states and their property enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts, except as otherwise provided by this Law.

Article 4: Where a foreign state has expressly consented to the jurisdiction of PRC courts by one of the following means with respect to a particular matter or case, the foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation over the matter or case:

(1) by international agreement;

(2) in a written agreement;

(3) by submitting a written document to the PRC court handling the case;

(4) by submitting a written document to the PRC through diplomatic channels and such other means;

(5) other means by which the jurisdiction of PRC courts is expressly consented to.

Article 5: A foreign state is deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction of PRC courts over a particular matter or case in one of the following circumstances:

(1) where it filed a lawsuit in a PRC court as a plaintiff;

(2) where it participated in a lawsuit accepted by a PRC court as a defendant, and has filed an answer or a counterclaim on the merits of the case;

(3) where it participated in a lawsuit accepted by a PRC court as a third party;

(4) where it filed a lawsuit as a plaintiff or filed a claim as a third party in a PRC court, and a counterclaim arising from the same legal relationship or facts as said lawsuit or claim was filed against it.

Where a foreign state falls within the circumstance set forth in item (2) of the previous paragraph, but it can prove that it could not have known facts based on which immunity can be invoked until after it has filed the answer, it may invoke immunity from jurisdiction within a reasonable period of time after it knew or should have known such facts.

Article 6: A foreign state is not deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction of PRC courts in one of the following circumstances:

(1) where it answered a lawsuit only to invoke immunity;

(2) where a representative of the foreign state appeared before a PRC court as a witness;

(3) where it agreed to the application of PRC law with respect to a particular matter or in a particular case.

Article 7: Where commercial activities between a foreign state and an organization or individual of another state, including the PRC, took place in PRC territory, or have had a direct effect in PRC territory even though they took place outside PRC territory, the foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation arising from such commercial activities.

“Commercial activities” as used in this Law refers to transactions of goods or services, investments, borrowing and lending, and other acts of a commercial nature that do not constitute an exercise of sovereign authority. In determining whether an act constitutes a commercial activity, a PRC court shall undertake an overall consideration of the act’s nature and purpose.

Article 8: Where a contract concluded by a foreign state to obtain the labor or personal service provided by an individual was, in whole or in part, performed in PRC territory, the foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation arising from the contract, except in one of the following circumstances:

(1) where the labor or personal service provided by the individual was obtained to perform specific functions in the foreign state’s exercise of sovereign authority;

(2) where the individual who provided labor or personal service was a diplomatic agent, a consular officer, a staff member of the PRC representative office of an international organization that enjoys immunity, or any other individual enjoying the relevant immunity;

(3) where the individual who provided labor or personal service, when filing suit, is a national of the foreign state and has no habitual residence in PRC territory;

(4) where the foreign state and the PRC have otherwise agreed in writing.

Article 9: A foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation for compensation arising from personal injury or death or damage to movable or immovable property caused by the relevant act of the foreign state in PRC territory.

Article 10: A foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation over the following property matters:

(1) any right, interest, or obligation of the foreign state with respect to immovable property located in PRC territory;

(2) any right, interest, or obligation of the foreign state with respect to movable or immovable property arising by way of gift, testamentary gift, succession, or bona vacantia;

(3) any right, interest, or obligation of the foreign state that is implicated in the administration of trust property or bankruptcy property or in the liquidation of a legal person or an unincorporated organization.

Article 11: A foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts in litigation over the following intellectual property matters:

(1) determination of ownership and related rights and interests in intellectual property of the foreign state that is protected by PRC law;

(2) infringement by the foreign state, in PRC territory, of intellectual property rights protected by PRC law and related rights and interests.

Article 12: Where a dispute arising from the commercial activities between a foreign state and an organization or individual of another state, including the PRC, has been submitted to arbitration pursuant to a written agreement, or where a foreign state has agreed, by an international investment treaty or otherwise in writing, to submit to arbitration an investment dispute between it and an organization or individual of another state, including the PRC, the foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts over the following matters that require review by a court:

(1) the validity of the arbitration agreement;

(2) the confirmation or enforcement of the arbitral award;

(3) the setting aside of the arbitral award;

(4) other matters with respect to which laws have provided for review of the arbitration by PRC courts.

Article 13: The property of a foreign state enjoys immunity from the judicial compulsory measures of PRC courts.

A foreign state’s consent to the jurisdiction of PRC courts is not to be deemed a waiver of its immunity from judicial compulsory measures.

Article 14: In any of the following circumstances, the property of a foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the judicial compulsory measures of PRC courts:

(1) where the foreign state has expressly waived immunity from judicial compulsory measures by international agreement, in a written agreement, by submitting a written document to a PRC court, or by other such means;

(2) where the foreign state has allocated or earmarked property for enforcement by judicial compulsory measures;

(3) where, to enforce an effective merits or procedural ruling of a PRC court, judicial compulsory measures are taken against the property of the foreign state that is located in PRC territory, used for commercial activities, and connected to the litigation.

Article 15: The following property of a foreign state is not to be deemed property used for commercial activities as provided for in paragraph 3 of article 14 of this Law:

(1) property, including bank accounts, that is used or intended for use by [the foreign state’s] diplomatic mission, consular posts, special missions, missions to international organizations, or delegations to international conferences, for official business;

(2) property of a military character, or property used or intended for use in military affairs;

(3) property of the central bank of a foreign state or a regional economic integration organization, or the financial management institution thereof that performs the functions of a central bank, including cash, negotiable instruments, bank deposits, securities, foreign exchange reserve, gold reserve, and the immovable property and other property of the central bank or the financial management institution performing the functions of a central bank;

(4) property forming part of the state’s cultural heritage or archives and not for sale or intended for sale;

(5) property that is an object of scientific, cultural, or historical value used for exhibition and not for sale or intended for sale;

(6) other property that PRC courts consider is not to be deemed as being used for commercial activities.

Article 16: Where this Law has no provision on the adjudication or enforcement procedures in civil cases involving foreign states and their property, apply the provisions of the civil procedure laws and other relevant laws of the PRC.

Article 17: PRC courts shall serve process or other litigation documents on a foreign state by following means:

(1) the means provided for in the international agreements concluded between the foreign state and the PRC or to which they are both parties;

(2) other means accepted by the foreign state and not prohibited by PRC law.

Where service cannot be made by the means set forth in the previous paragraph, [the documents] may be transmitted to the foreign state’s foreign affairs department through a diplomatic note, and service is deemed to have been made on the day the diplomatic note is sent.

A litigation document served pursuant to the means set forth in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article shall be accompanied by a translation into the relevant language in accordance with the provisions of international agreements concluded between the foreign state and the PRC or to which they are both parties; or, where there is no relevant international agreement, be accompanied by a translation into an official language of the foreign state.

When serving a copy of a complaint on a foreign state, the foreign state shall be notified at the same time to file an answer within three months of receiving the copy of the complaint.

After a foreign state has answered on the merits in litigation brought against it, it may not thereafter object to the means by which litigation documents were served.

Article 18: After service has been made, where a foreign state has not entered an appearance within the period of time specified by a PRC court, the court shall sua sponte ascertain whether the foreign state enjoys immunity from its jurisdiction. In a case where a foreign state does not enjoy immunity from the jurisdiction of PRC courts, the court may render a default judgment, but shall only do so six months after the day litigation documents are served.

A default judgment rendered by a PRC court against a foreign state shall be served in accordance with the provisions of article 17 of this Law.

The time limit for a foreign state to appeal from a default judgment rendered by a PRC court is six months and begins to run from the day a copy of the judgment is served.

Article 19: PRC courts shall accept certificates issued by the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the following factual issues concerning acts of state:

(1) whether the relevant state in a case is a “foreign sovereign state” under article 2, item 1 of this Law;

(2) whether and when a diplomatic note provided for in article 17 was delivered;

(3) other factual issues concerning acts of State.

The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs may issue opinions to PRC courts on issues other than those set forth in the previous paragraph that concern foreign affairs and other such major state interests.

Article 20: The provisions of this Law do not affect the privileges and immunities enjoyed by foreign diplomatic missions, consular posts, special missions, missions to international organizations, delegations to international conferences, and relevant persons of the foregoing institutions under PRC laws and the international agreements the PRC has concluded or to which it is a party.

The provisions of this Law do not affect the privileges and immunities enjoyed by foreign heads of state, heads of government, foreign ministers, and other officials of comparable status under PRC laws, the international agreements the PRC has concluded or to which it is a party, and international custom.

Article 21: Where foreign states accord the PRC and its property narrower immunity that is provided by this Law, the PRC will apply the principle of reciprocity.

Article 22: Where international agreements the PRC has concluded or to which it is a party have provisions different from those of this Law, apply the provisions of the international agreements, except for clauses with respect to which the PRC has made a reservation.

Article 23: This Law takes effect on January 1, 2024.

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2 Comments

  1. edwin li edwin li 2023/09/05

    thanks for your efforts which should have been done by Chinese government.

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