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Gift giving, guanxi and Confucianism in a harmonious society: what Chinese law could learn from English law on aspects of directors' duties

By Jingchen Zhao and Shuangge Wen


Guanxi has had a long and deep impact on people’s understanding of how to do business in China. The historic “Confucian” philosophy rests on two primary facets: Ren and Li. Ren is described as benevolence, philanthropy, and humaneness, while Li reflects the norms of society that dictate acceptable behaviour. Additionally, the policy discourse of a “harmonious society” (hexie shehui) has become the defining discourse of the Chinese Communist Party under Hu Jintao, since it was the central theme of the 17th Party Congress in October 2007. It is claimed that establishing a harmonious society is not only the aim of modernisation, but it is also the foundation of the existence and development of the world. Focusing on law, morality and courtesies are the levers of adjustment for a harmonious society. The government tries to include elements of the humanist spirit of Confucianismwithin the theme of the “harmonious world”. In this paper, the author will discuss and analyse the potential impacts that guanxi could have on the relationships between directors of state-owned enterprises and parties who have a direct or indirect, long-term or short-term conflict of interest with these state-owned enterprises. Some critical comments regarding potential reform suggestions will be directed at provisions related to directors’ duties Chinese Company Law 2006, with reference to the UK Companies Act 2006 in the context of guanxi and the unique way of doing business in China, a country deeply rooted in Confucian values and ideology. Different approaches in facilitating corporate law and corporate governance stipulations with an “Anglo-American” style in societies influenced by Confucian values will also be also discussed, and some possible solutions proposed

Topics: K
Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell
Year: 2013
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